Knowing Your Limits as an Advocate

“It will get better”

“Justice will be served”

“You won’t always feel this way”

As advocates, there are lots of promises we want to make to the people we are serving. We want to comfort and encourage them, telling them that everything is going to be okay one day and that it will get better. While they are meant to be comforting, these words unfortunately can easily cause more harm than good. Promises of hope and healing are heavy to those who need them. If those promises aren’t able to come to fruition, the weight of that emptiness can be too much. Learning how to support people in the way they need, and in the way I can offer, is a difficult part of engaging in the work of advocacy. Advocates, both professional and informal, must learn the difficult task of recognizing and respecting their own limits. Sometimes it is better to give someone the honest truth even when that isn’t what they want to hear. Although we are advocating for survivors, oftentimes the outcome is outside of our control for a variety of reasons. Sometimes there are legal loopholes that advocates cannot work around that make it difficult to get survivors what they need. This is something I have started learning as my supervisor explains to me what information I am privy to and what I cannot be exposed to. I assumed this was for reasons of confidentiality, but it actually has more to do with putting others at risk of legal liability issues. In other words, our hands are often tied by larger systems and things we cannot work around that often stand in the way of meeting the needs of people PAAR serves. This is why it is important as advocates to have a clear understanding of our limits, so we can more efficiently serve people with the resources we do have available.


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