One of the key services we provide at HOPE Center is advocacy. We show up. We listen. We have difficult conversations. We seek to give voice to those who have lost theirs or whose voices have been taken from them by force.

The work of advocacy, particularly within domestic and sexual violence, is that of recognizing and working to acknowledge who has power within the relationship, whose voice is not being heard, asking what a healthy relationship would look like.

We often pause and ask what does a future without violence both within specific relationships and in our community look like?

Within healthy relationships, we are able to challenge each other, we are able to take in new perspectives, we are able to acknowledge when we have done harm — intentionally or not.

Within strong relationships, where trust has been broken, we actively strive to rebuild trust, knowing that the first step is always to listen and acknowledge what we have missed.

Now we need to take those same skills from our personal relationships and from our advocacy toolbox and apply them to our system relationships. We recognize that many of our society’s systems are broken and have caused significant harm to far too many in our community.

HOPE Center stands firmly rooted in the dignity and worth of all human beings. We recognize that Black and Brown lives continue to be harmed and disproportionately impacted by a system that is inherently designed to give power to a select few while silencing the voices and autonomy of so many.

The various organizations with whom we work in Rice County have demonstrated time and time again that they are willing to look at how we all serve our clients, work together and have the courage to have the hard conversations and determine new paths forward.

I invite you to learn with us, listen to the voices that haven’t been given center stage, who have been made invisible by poverty, racism, power, and pride. HOPE Center is committed to learning what we don’t know, to unearthing hard truths and to finding a new path through.

These are historic times. There is a momentum, a hunger for change, a desire to act.

Let’s use this moment in time to make necessary changes, but let us start by taking a step back, listening to those who have been harmed and then move forward together.

HOPE Center will be conducting listening sessions, talking through what healing and advocacy look like, checking in with our clients, system partners and the community to continue to work towards our mission of ending violence in our community.

We hope you join us.

HOPE Center services include phone support, emergency shelter, counseling, hospital support and legal advocacy. For assistance for yourself or someone else, call our 24-hour Safeline: 800-607-2330. For more information, visit us at hopecentermn.org.

Erica Staab-Absher is executive director of the HOPE Center. Reach the center at 507-332-0882.

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