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Cindee LaPointe

Cindee LaPointe has been manager of the Spokane based YWCA Domestic Violence Safe Shelter for almost 10 years. She started working in the social services 15 years ago and has a heart for those who have experienced domestic violence. She works with the YWCA who is “dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.”
Interview by Breanna Feddes
March 2012

Peace for me is living in harmony and contentment. I think it is trying to find one small part or piece of helping to make a society that can live in harmony and contentment without violence. It is helping people to learn to live together without violence.

I think people need to focus more on themselves than on others. They need to look at their faults and flaws and work on those. We are always so quick to point a finger at others. I see so much judgement towards others. People pride themselves in being so nonjudgemental and they do not see that same quality in themselves.

Domestic Violence is not a marriage problem, it is an individual problem so it cannot be solved with marriage counseling, it has to be solved with individual counseling. Those involved need to work on being more nonjudgmental, to look at themselves first. I do not like to think of the word tolerance in this situation, I think it is overused, but we need to accept everyone for who they are because we are all different. The best tool for solving conflict is starting at the micro level and then moving to the macro level. It is starting with the individuals extending from individuals in your own culture to individuals in other cultures.

I think that peace can be a state of mind and not exactly what surrounds you. Right in the middle of chaos and terrible circumstance, it is possible to have peace. I have women tell me they have felt and experienced peace in the middle of horrible situations. They felt that this sense of peace came from God. 

It is easy for me to sit in this country where I have enough to eat, where I am not being daily beaten or raped. I was once speaking to a client from another culture and part of the world, and without realizing I said something insensitive. I said I would love to go to the place where she was from and she turned and looked at me stricken. She said that it was a bad place. She had a different experience and understands things differently than me. This is true of all people.

Advocacy based counseling is different from therapy. We assume the client knows their lives better than anyone else. We are there to meet them right where they are at and encourage them during the process. On goal sheets we help them make lists of what brings them peace in their lives. When they become so involved in their domestic violence lifestyle they often loose themselves. We make them think about who they were before and try to bring them back to the peace they had before their unfortunate circumstances. We say, “You were a person before you lost your identity.” First they will often say they do not know who they were or are, but by the end they start to remember. When they come through the door I say they have left behind that victim.

It took a long time for me to be able to go home at night and leave it all behind at the shelter. I have found that no matter how long you have been there, you do end up taking clients home with you, in your mind.