Volunteer Claire Murphy lives our Mission at the Intervention Center for Assault and Abuse
Claire is an Everett native, currently studying at University of Washington School of Medicine. She began volunteering at the Pavilion for Women and children while in high school to prepare for a career in medicine, she enjoyed interacting with patients and giving back to her community.
In 2007, Claire’s grandmother passed away leaving behind hundreds of Beanie Babies in mint condition. Wanting to find a new home for the well cared for stuffed animals, Claire and her family came across the Providence Intervention Center for Assault and Abuse (PICAA). At the Intervention Center, whenever a child discloses abuse they are seen by the medical staff and at the end of their session they get a beanie baby, a blanket from the Linus Project or a stuffed animal to bring home with them. As they leave, children are also given a sticky hand toy to throw on the ceiling. The hundreds of other sticky hands that hang from the ceiling serve as a reminder to the children that they are not alone in their experiences.
The mission of the Intervention Center made an impression on Claire, and she sought an opportunity to volunteer after graduating from college in 2014. At PICAA, there is a need for office volunteers as well as advocates. Volunteer advocates are required to complete 30 hours of training in victim advocacy in addition to shadowing current advocates before dealing directly with victims. “I loved advocating for patients in the office during medical visits and law enforcement interviews,” Claire said, “but I immediately noticed a need for more nighttime on-call advocates who would respond to victims presenting at the emergency department.”
Claire soon took on more nighttime on-call advocacy shifts, and eventually transitioned to working as a full-time volunteer serving patients all over Snohomish County in a team with our Forensic Nurse Examiners. “Our patients come in after experiencing violent crimes, sex crimes, and abuse, the worst things people can experience,” said Claire, “these families need someone and I can be that person in their corner.”
Patients are referred to the Intervention Center by the 24-hour crisis hotline, local law enforcement, Child Protective Services, medical professionals and community partners. Advocates are often called to emergency departments all over Snohomish County when the ED’s have victims of sexual or physical assault. Once initial contact is made, advocates help set medical appointments, assess patient needs, and help them access counseling and legal services as well as providing emotional support. “Having the Intervention Center be a part of Dawson Place Child Advocacy Center is a huge benefit, we are near counseling, Child Protective Services and the Special Investigation Unit for Snohomish County,” Claire said, “it’s great to be able to provide families with a centralized place to receive all the services they need and not add additional stress.”
When families come to the Intervention Center it is during moments of crisis, the caregivers and advocates at PICAA focus on empowering them and giving them resources to help the healing process. “One of our goals when working with a patient is to help them transition from victim to survivor,” said Claire, “My most meaningful interactions with patients have been the moments when I see the light go on and they understand that the abuses they have experienced were not their fault and that they have agency.”
Claire’s experiences as an Intervention Center advocate in the emergency department has inspired her to become an Emergency Medicine Doctor. She hopes to complete fellowships in child abuse and non-accidental trauma to continue her work in easing the way of victims of assault and abuse. She continues to serve the community as an on call nighttime advocate for the Intervention Center as she attends medical school.
Thank you Claire for helping us live our Mission by providing compassionate service to some of our most vulnerable patients.