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Check Out Giovanna Martinez’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Giovanna Martinez.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
My journey into being a victim advocate was made out of necessity. I was young, and I needed to work. I learned about a position available to work with children in a domestic violence shelter, and I took it.

I was fascinated and thrilled about my first “real” job. I had some childhood education units in college, and I knew I wanted to work with kids, so I thought it could be a good fit.

I was offered the job in July 2001, and my journey began there. I was 19 years old. My passion for the work developed on day one. I was going to work for a domestic violence shelter and worked with the kids whose stories reflected mine. My dad and my mom had a domestic violence relationship. I remembered how I felt as a child and a teen living in this environment. I called on my experiences as I worked with the children in the shelter. I thought if I could help break the cycle of violence for any child. I have done my job.

I wish I could say that I remember all of the clients and cases I worked with over these 21 years. The time flew by. Sometimes I can’t believe I have been blessed to do this work for over two decades.

I worked for the shelter for 14 years, and I loved working with survivors. To witness resilience and empowerment through the eyes of those who have survived abuse is an honor that I carry with me. I left the shelter only for the opportunity to build a domestic violence program for the LGBTQ community. Because my experience at that moment had shown me how very few programs existed for the community. The work with LGBTQ clients was always directly linked to my heart. It is a community that I call my own. I spent four years working and building a program specifically for the LGBTQ community.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It was not always a smooth road. When you work in this field, you support individuals during the most traumatic and tragic times of their lives. They have experienced abuse and violence at levels many may not ever know. They see you as someone who can help, and holding those moments for them can also take a toll on you. That is why it is essential to have a sound support system and tools to guide you in your work.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am currently the Victim Services Program Supervisor at Human Services Association in Bell Gardens, California, and we are a multi-service agency that specializes in supporting the community with comprehensive and compassionate services that include early childhood education, family and community services dedicated to eliminating violence and abuse in our communities, and our extensive senior services department. Once they become clients, survivors rarely have to leave our organization to seek the support they need. That makes HSA special.

When I first started here at HSA, my supervisor used to tell me we were the best-kept secret in our area. I quickly learned that was because we had thriving services with very little advertising. Many clients come here because of word of mouth, they know someone who has received assistance, and they recommended us.

I am very proud that the work done here at HSA, from the CEO to the frontlines, is done with compassion, respect, and responsiveness. Our clients are a majority Latinx community, and HSA strives to ensure everyone has equal access to our services. I am really proud of the team I work for because they really embody this. They are committed to ensuring that every client who walks through the door feels welcome and safe.

This dedication to the clients and communities we serve sets us apart.

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
The most important lesson that I have learned is that every survivor I encounter is their own expert in their life. They will tell you what they need and how you can support them.

Although abusive tactics may be similar, every survivor we work with has a very different story. We must honor that.

Lastly, the people who work the frontlines of victim advocacy are one of the most resilient, caring, and selfless individuals. I am inspired by them and appreciative of their services. We often overlook how much emotional effort and strength it takes to be of help to someone in crisis and experiencing trauma. That is not easy, and sometimes the work is long and heavy, and compensation may not always be the best, but advocates always stand ready to support. Even when they have their own lives and traumas, advocates are there. Thank you to all the advocates who work at the intersection of abuse and violence. Our work is valid, and I am grateful for everything you do.

Contact Info:

  • Email: giovanna.martinez@hsala.org
  • Website: https://www.hsala.org
  • Instagram: HSALAORG
  • Facebook: Human Services Association

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