At Radius, we are fortunate to have staff who are dedicated to our mission to help children, youth and families build their futures free from abuse, neglect and violence. And Vanessa Junior is one such individual! We wanted you to get to know them (and some of our other colleagues in future newsletters) … so read on to get a behind the scenes look at the work of a Clinical Therapist … Meet Vanessa Junior!
What do you do at Radius?
At Radius, I work as a Clinical Therapist and Project Coordinator for the Youth Dating Violence (YDV) Intensive Intervention Program.
Why did you choose to work at Radius?
Prior to working at Radius, I worked primarily in the Violence Against Women (VAW) sector and with people who engage in sex work. Most of my work was centered on the crisis people experienced in the aftermath of violence. During that work, I often wondered who was working with those who perpetrated violence, as I felt that this was often not discussed in those spaces. I value working with those who have experienced violence, but I also believe that working with those who perpetuate violence, is also crucial. I chose to work at Radius because I believe that the work we do helps to build futures free from violence and curbs the perpetuation of inter-generational cycles of violence.
What attracted you to work with children/youth and especially children/youth who have been abused or neglected?
To be honest, a sense of common humanity. As humans, we all feel pain, hurt, disappointment, abandonment etc., and I imagine that if I was in one of our client’s shoes that I would want someone like to me to sit with and be with. It is truly an honour and privilege for me to be able to come to work everyday, to hold others’ stories of hurt and trauma, and to support them on their journey towards healing. People can heal from violence, and I am invested in doing my part to support that journey.
Is there a particular moment or memory that stands out for you while working at Radius?
I know this may sound a tad strange, but I was working with a boy who had experienced sexual abuse. When he first began treatment, he was unable to tolerate hearing the word sex, learning about puberty or even seeing condoms in a bowl. He was so intensely triggered that prior to session, we would have to remove the bowl of condoms from the room. About a year into treatment, he showed some interest in learning about condoms. Taking his lead, we delved into the subject. What was beautiful to see was that not only was he able to tolerate seeing a condom, but he was able to open them, touch them, and learn about their proper use. I know this may seem insignificant, but what it signaled to me was that he was healing. Through processing his trauma, he was eventually able to regain some sense of safety to be able to explore topics such as sex and condoms, without the flooding and remembrance of his sexual abuse. I was really proud that day of him, and I still very much so am.
Is there an achievement or contribution that you are most proud of? Why?
Last year, using research I completed during my Master’s degree, along with my Clinical Director Bente Skau, we applied for and were awarded a 5 year grant to develop an intensive intervention program targeting youth who have used violence in their dating relationships. We are currently in the development stages of the project, with an expected intake date of April 2020. Currently, there is a gap in services targeting youth dating violence in Toronto, and in North America, more generally. I am proud that Radius is able to host this program, because I believe it may help to curb future relationship violence and in turn reduce the harm caused to others.
What would you say to someone considering working in the field?
Taking care of yourself is the most important aspect of this job. Hearing stories of abuse and violence on a daily basis is taxing. So, if someone is considering working in this field, I would encourage them to consistently check in with themselves, make time to care for themselves, take breaks when needed, use your benefits, and recognize when, and know that it is okay, to not be okay sometimes. If we aren’t showing ourselves love, how can we preach self-love to our clients?
Is there anything else you would want to share with me or our readers?
The changes and healing that we see through treatment are beautiful; none of which would be possible without support from our funders and other community agencies and individuals. I would like to thank everyone who supports Radius and the work that we do. You truly are helping to change lives.
A BIG THANK YOU to Vanessa for sharing these thoughts and experiences with us! We are truly grateful for the outstanding contribution they make to Radius and to the children, youth and families we serve.
To learn more about Our Services at Radius, visit: https://radiuscys.ca/our-services/