Empowering DV advocates through practical experience

As with any industry, there is a need to evolve as the ecosystem we operate in changes, be it social, political or environmental. However, our goal at Penny Appeal USA is to find the balance while still staying true to our core mission and values.

By Hiba Radwi, Donor Relations Manager, Penny Appeal USA

At Penny Appeal USA, we’re grateful for the support we receive from our interns and volunteers who are helping us achieve our mission every day. The following is a letter from Abby Gears, MSW Intern, that was shared with Sa’idah Sudan, our Domestic Violence Shelter Lead. The letter illustrates the incredible work being done at the shelter to empower women and help advocates gain practical experience in the field of social work.

April 29, 2024

Dear Ms. Sudan,

I am writing to share my experience as a Master of Social Work Intern at Baitul Hemayah. I have nothing but good things to say about my time here. I am so grateful that you were willing to take me on as an intern so late in the year. Although I only spent a few months interning with you, I learned so much. 

My orientation was extremely informative as I had the opportunity to participate in training on the basics of domestic violence and working with survivors. Additionally, I had the chance to hear from loved ones of individuals who lost their lives in domestic violence scenarios in this training process. I learned about trauma-informed care, secondary trauma, and self-care. 

I was always encouraged to do my own research and seek out additional learning opportunities to learn and grow in my work at the shelter. In this, I read first-hand accounts of survivors’ experiences living in abusive relationships. I engaged in online trainings on the intersectionality of domestic violence and human trafficking, providing services to young men of color, humanity in supporting victims, and victim assistance in general. 

Most importantly, I had the chance to get to know and work with the survivors living in the shelter. I was challenged to step out of my comfort zone in communicating with residents, engaging in case-management, and holding residents accountable. I gained insight into supporting individuals in crisis through answering hotline phone calls and completing intake assessments. I had the opportunity to investigate local community resources, connect individuals, and compile a working list of agencies to support victims in a variety of areas.  

Prior to my time here, I had very little experience working with adults and had no experience with domestic violence. This placement has taught me so much and equipped me with skills that I hope to take with me and apply in future social work settings. I am so grateful that I had the chance to intern at Baitul Hemayah. Ms. Sudan is an exemplary victim advocate, fantastic teacher, and inspiring individual. It is due to her, and the work done at the shelter she created that I now have a new appreciation for advocating for others. 


Abby Gears, MSW Intern

Learn more about our Domestic Violence Shelter at purplepenny.org.

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