Doctor offers free training to advocates working with victims of violence
To encounter Daily Light Point Price honored Dr. Amber D. Gray. During the third annual Global Volunteer Month, we celebrate the power of people who take on society’s greatest challenges and build stronger, more vibrant communities through volunteerism and everyday actions, like Dr. Gray. Read her story and join the celebration of Global Volunteer Month.
Content Disclaimer: Points of Light is proud to share the following uplifting and inspiring story. However, we recognize that a small part below may be difficult for some readers. We encourage you to take care of your own well-being above all else.
The daughter of philanthropists and volunteers, Dr. Amber D. Gray has always valued service work. The behavioral health doctor has worked in the field of violence prevention and intervention for over two decades and has found a love for helping victims of violence. It was only natural for Dr. Gray to continue her advocacy and violence prevention work as a volunteer as well. Four years ago, she participated in the co-foundation The Freedom Train Projectwhich helps victims of sectarian abuse.
As the nonprofit’s Director of Violence Prevention and Victim Advocacy, Dr. Gray helps train advocates to help victims of abuse. In addition to this work, Dr. Gray makes sure to volunteer ten extra hours a month, often providing free training to professionals and organizations that work with victims of violence. She also served International children for eight years by sponsoring four children to whom it helps provide food and medical care.
What does the Freedom Train project do?
The Freedom Train project helps victims of sectarian abuse escape their situation. They do this through victim advocacy – which means resourcing them, providing them with the services they need, or connecting them with other agencies that have therapists or provide education to people who are trapped. in sects for a long time. They also serve different populations that are victims of sectarian abuse. A person abused by a cult may have issues of human trafficking, labor, domestic violence, child abuse and may have been a victim of pedophilia, so we must also serve them according to their population.
Describe your role in the Freedom Train Project.
I’m the director of violence prevention and victim advocacy. My role is to help advocates be able to help victims in a trauma-informed way. I educate and train them on how the business operates, how to interact with victims, how to interact with law enforcement, and how to interact with other agencies.
What prompted you to do this work over the past four years?
I have worked in the area of violence prevention and intervention, primarily domestic violence, for 26 years. I started when I was 17 after experiencing my own issues and meeting some wonderful women at a domestic violence center who encouraged me to go to college and learn the trade. From there, I started working as a victims’ rights advocate. I worked my way up through the years, and it became my passion in life. I enjoy working with victims of violence and helping them through their crisis.
What specifically attracts you to working with victims of violence?
When I was a child, I grew up in an abusive home and needed lots of help and lots of resources. There were people helping, but there just wasn’t enough help when I was younger. When I was a kid, I used to think, “When I grow up, I’ll be the person who helps people.” That’s what pushed me into it, but then I got distracted by my own growing up issues and then was pulled back into it by those wonderful ladies at the domestic violence shelter.
What are you most proud of in relation to your work with The Freedom Train Project?
We recently had a client who was in another state, and she was in a cult of one. Her husband was a cult leader, and he practiced at home with her and did things to her. We didn’t know how to help this person because he was in a house. We had to think and be creative to get her out of her home and put her in a position where other resources in her area could help her out. It took about three months, but we were able to do it. We were really proud of it because it was difficult.
What other areas do you volunteer in?
I volunteer ten hours a month for various organizations that may need help. Recently I worked with the Colorado Social Services Network. The director’s name is John Dandurand. It was at the end of COVID, and he really needed his staff to be trained. I did in-kind training. The training would have totaled around $7,000 if he had to pay for the services. I trained its staff to work with serious cases of sexually violent individuals. I did a free 12 hour training for that. I do a lot of pro bono service for domestic violence agencies. Recently I worked with the Solano defends victims of violence. They needed volunteers so I made a memorandum of understanding [Memorandum of Understanding] with them and told them that whenever they needed to call me for volunteers, I could provide them. My newest is a doctor named Anchal Goyal, and I trained her to work for free in victim services. That’s what I do – I volunteer for people who need to get started in this field or can’t afford some training.
Why is it important for you to make sure people have access to this type of training?
When I worked in a shelter, a few staff members were not properly trained in the facility. One of the customers didn’t understand the process she was going through and she ended up leaving the establishment and jumping in front of a train. She committed suicide. He was a good person. I got to know her really, really well. All it took was for the staff to understand that because of her situation, she needed to know exactly what was going to happen to her through this process. The staff did not explain to him. She thought there was something going on that wasn’t happening. In fact, she was fine, it was just part of the process. She lost her life because of this, so it was very important to me to educate staff about trauma and to make sure that all providers know how to deal with victims of violence so they don’t re-traumatize them. We don’t know what their life was like, so even if we re-traumatize them a bit, it can have a fatal outcome.
Why do you think it is important for others to give back?
The women I met when I was a teenager gave me back. All of these women have excelled throughout their careers. They hit the heights of their careers, and they met this tough little guy, and they polished him off and said, “We’re going to take your chance and help you through life. I became a doctor. I think sometimes people need a helping hand. If you give them a hand, they can excel. That’s what motivates me. If you help people, they can help themselves. Sometimes all they need is a little help.
What do you want people to learn from your story?
Things can go wrong, but if you don’t give up and trust the process, sometimes everything turns out fine. It’s okay to trust the process, even when things aren’t going so well. Things may be bad for you and you can’t see a way out, but hang in there a little longer and trust the people around you who are trying to help you, because there will always be a light at the end of the day. this tunnel.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Dr. Gray? Find local volunteer opportunities.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, contact theNational Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or text HOME to 741741 to speak to a crisis counselor trained by Crisis text line. Both resources are anonymous, free and available 24/7.