By Jamey Sheesley
Pastor Maria Cleveland is a domestic violence warrior. She went through her own experience and decided she was not going to let it go to waste. For a long time, she wanted to volunteer to help someone else who is going through what she experienced. Pastor Maria found Break The Silence Against Domestic Violence on VolunteerMatch.org. After finding BTSADV, she submitted her information right away for a helpline advocate position but expected it to take days or even weeks to hear back about her submission. She was shocked when only a few days later she received a phone call.
“I was so excited; I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to do this for such a long time,” said Pastor Maria.
She is now helping callers throughout the United States by taking their calls and giving them her ear. She has a powerful desire to help clients realize that they are not victims; instead, they are overcomers and survivors. With every caller, she provides them with multiple resources. Providing multiple resources is not an easy task by any means. Many of her calls are from male survivors, whether they are straight or part of the LGBTQ+ community. It is difficult to find domestic violence shelters for men, so she has to dig deeper to find them a safe haven. She has to go beyond to get them resources, but she does not fail and gets them the resources they need, and she does it with them on the phone. She often knows there is not enough time for her clients to wait for her to call them back.
“No way would I give a person just one resource, unless that person indicated to me that is all they wanted, but that has never happened,” said Pastor Maria.
“She spearheaded the idea of Population-Based Resource Guide idea that the Helpline team is now tackling as a family. Maria also assists with voicemails when she has free time. Maria consistently contributes to the BTSADV on top of serving her church, community, and local victim assistance centers,” said Nicki B., Helpline Director.
I felt very inspired after talking with Pastor Maria about what she does for BTSADV. She patiently talked about many of the callers and their stories (all callers remained anonymous) along with her own. She is a positive and unique individual that I want to share with the world. She remembers her callers and even checks back in with them to see how they are doing. In addition, she is always open to her clients calling her again if they need to. She had been told many times from callers that they were so glad she answered, and after talking with her, I can see why. Pastor Maria made me feel so at ease on the phone, which would be necessary for survivors. She spoke so calmly, I am a person with anxiety, and she immediately made me feel at ease. When she told me she could feel her client’s stories through the phone, I believed her. I could feel her compassion to help others through the phone, making her an excellent helpline advocate. I know she will help many more callers and direct them on the right path.
Congratulations, Pastor Maria Cleveland, on being named July 2020 volunteer of the month.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org or chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777.
Share Your Story
Sharing our stories can be incredibly empowering while also helping others connect with survivors who have similar experiences. If you are inspired to share your story with us, submit here. You can choose to remain anonymous.
You can also donate to BTSADV here.