My first week interning at the Women’s Law Project was a roller coaster of adjustment, frustration, sadness, bonding, and shared inspiration. And the fact that I felt all of that in only 4 days is proof to me that I am working at an organization that will truly change my life and allow me to create meaningful change. I spent the first two days training to become a telephone counselor. In this role I am expected to speak to callers about legal issues they are having and direct them to relevant information that can help them. And most importantly to stress that we are not a legal aid service, nor do we provide personal legal representation. After 16 hours of pouring over pages of legal documents about custody, divorce, sexual assault, child abuse, abortion, and gender equity I was eager and excited to make my first call. And obviously I was not prepared. Women call us because they are being overwhelmed from all sides- their partners are abusive, their jobs aren’t paying enough, they can’t get the healthcare they need, they don’t understand the law, they can’t afford a lawyer, and they usually have children to take care of. Most of them just need someone to talk to. And as a counselor I listen to tragedy after tragedy and can only offer the most basic legal counsel like to visit this website or call this community legal service. After my first shift I was wired with emotions, frustrated at my inability to help, and angry at the world for putting so many women in the most difficult of positions. Luckily my office is filled with thoughtful, empathetic, and supportive women and we all take lunch together each day. I expressed my concerns with them and was reminded in that conversation of why I sought this job in the first place. Even though we are limited in our ability to help women, our existence as an organization is helpful in itself. We are a reminder to women that somebody cares, somebody hears them, and somebody wants to help. They are not invisible, they are not alone, and they are not powerless. This summer I can help women tackle the daunting force that is the legal system, guide them to the places that will offer them the most help, and listen to the stories that the rest of the world is choosing to ignore.
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