#MakingTime: A Day in the Life of a Domestic Violence Court Advocate in D.C.

Woman at desk



Women can do anything — but not everything. As the largest online career community for women, we at Fairygodboss realize that balance is a myth, and that picking what to prioritize when everything feels important on a day-to-day basis isn't always easy. In the #MakingTime series, women share with us how, for one day, they chose to spend their most precious resource: time.


Who: Erin

What: Senior Domestic Violence Court Advocate

Where: Arlington, Virginia


6:30 a.m.

My alarm goes off twice (okay, three times) before I crack open my eyes and get the day started. If I wasn’t paying as much as I am for my yoga studio membership, I swear I would not be able to wake up this early. As it is, I have a class starting at 7 a.m. a quick car ride away, and I’m not going to miss it! 

My job is impactful and rewarding, but can also be extremely emotionally draining — I work as an advocate at a D.C.-based organization that assists survivors of domestic violence in filing for orders for protection and navigating the legal system, including by providing physical at-court support for these women (and sometimes men). There’s a lot of burnout in this line of work, so starting my day on a note of self care is essential. 

6:45 a.m.

Smoothie in hand, I’ve kissed my boyfriend goodbye (he’ll be gone by the time I get back) and am out the door. I’m going to be three minutes to this class, but the instructors kind of expect that by now! 

7:50 a.m.

I’m breathing deeply and heading back home to quickly shower before it’s time to commute to the office. Prior to starting my yoga regimen, I’d probably be at home glued to my laptop and answering emails right now. This is a much healthier and more mindful start to my morning! 

8:45 a.m.

Back in the car, I drive to the train stop while catching up on some news via NPR. Once I’m on the train, I’ll switch over to getting some email catchup going.

9:30 a.m.

Walking into the office and had just enough time to grab a coffee beforehand. Score! Now it’s time to take fuller scope of the day ahead and divide my to-do list into buckets of “urgent,” “nice to do,” and “can get to this later.” We are a small team doing work that is making a powerful impact for survivors of trauma that may not have an advocate in their corner otherwise. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork and operational duties involved, and taking stock in terms of the bigger picture at the start of my day helps. 

10 a.m.

Our new intern is here! I have an hour blocked off to train her on some operational details, particularly around intaking clients, sharing safety processes with them, and the confidentiality this whole process entails. None of us are licensed therapists, but we’ve undergone training on the language and protocol specifics of working with clients who have many times experienced a great degree of trauma. There’s an extreme amount of sensitivity, and confidentiality, involved in even the smallest piece of communication.

Also, I speak some Spanish, but this intern is fully bilingual, which is going to be a major benefit as we look to expand the communities we’re serving, so we chat a bit about what this will look like.

11 a.m. 

Time for a quick 1:1 with our program director. She was a lawyer for many years before switching into this line of work and is an incredible resource to our team and the population we’re serving. 

11:30 a.m.

Emails, emails, emails!! Then I need to get out the door and grab lunch on my way over to the court. I will be working with one client for the better part of this afternoon. 

12:30 p.m.

I’m at the court to meet my client. This is her first day in court, and I will be serving as her advocate as she seeks full custody of her kids. Some of what you see and hear in court can be incredibly difficult, particularly where there are children involved. But all women (and men!) deserve to live their lives safely, and I can’t imagine not contributing my time and energy to helping make that possible for our clients. 

4 p.m.

I’m back at the office for a meeting with our community outreach coordinator. Her job (it’s a big one!) is making sure our program information is accessible to people in particularly underserved communities, and that they’re able to take note of that information in a safe way. When so many victims of domestic violence are in situations of being heavily monitored by their abuser — many aren’t allowed to have a cell phone or internet access in general — sometimes, having information for getting help posted in an unexpected public place, like a supermarket, can be what literally saves lives. For this meeting, there is a festival within the Spanish-speaking community taking place here in a couple of weeks, and I have some ideas for how we can be a part of it. 

5:30 p.m.

It’s been a full day, and I’m ready to get home to my boyfriend. We love cooking dinner together. Tonight, it’s going to be shrimp and veggies cooked on our grill! But first, I’ve got to run a couple errands en route home. 

7:45 p.m.

Dinner is served! We eat outside on our apartment’s back deck, which was a huge incentive for us to buy this place. We catch up on each other’s days and watch the fireflies come out. 

9 p.m.

Time for an episode of “Killing Eve” (our friends just got us into it!). Except, I can’t stay awake for the full thing… my boyfriend wakes me up from the couch and we go to bed. Time to do it all again tomorrow! 


Do you need to talk to someone about domestic violence? Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or speak with an advocate online.
Interested in contributing to Fairygodboss' #MakingTime series? Email [email protected] with "#MakingTime" in the subject line.

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