Meet Naihal Almoghrabi, a Resilience Volunteer Medical Advocate, whose unique and critical role requires approaching all survivors by believing them and advocating for their needs and rights.

Dive into our exclusive interview below to gain insight from Naihal, who speaks about our volunteer program, the impact of advocates’ support in hospitals, and the importance of giving back to organizations like Resilience.

What motivated you to get involved with Resilience as a Volunteer Medical Advocate?  

I am actually a previous client of Resilience. We’re going back, I think eight years. Resilience, at the time, basically saved my life. Once I got to the point of healing, where I was able to take care of myself, I wanted to give back to the community that gave so much to me. That’s why I got involved in volunteering. I wanted to be there for some of the survivors who didn’t or wouldn’t have the support otherwise. Eventually, I was able to find my way, and now I’m giving back to a community that I’m extremely passionate about making a difference in. 

Our Volunteer Medical Advocates play an important role in helping survivors through challenging moments after sexual violence. Can you tell me about the role you and our Volunteer Medical Advocates play in supporting survivors?  

When [survivors] have made such a decision to seek out care right after their incident has happened, we are the first line of defense for them. [We] make sure that they have their rights and needs met in the emergency room. The role I play is making sure [survivors] feel like they’re not alone, that they feel comfortable, and know every single step of the process. Like the [rape] kit, if they don’t want [the perpetrator] prosecuted by the police, how can we go about other ways of storing evidence? [We] make sure they know their options so they can make the best-informed decisions for themselves after experiencing something so, so horrific.  

What has surprised you the most about working as a Volunteer Medical Advocate?  

This is going to be kind of cheesy for me to say, but I think it’s the resilience of the survivors coming into the ER. I think what surprised me most is that each case is very individual. I have seen clients [say,] “I’m ready to get all this done. I’m empowered by the information you’re giving me, and really want to make that step forward and prosecute legally.” And there are other people who are, like, “Get me out of here. I don’t want to do anything.” So, I think what has really surprised me, which is not a shock for everyone, [is that every survivor] is going to react differently to what has happened to them and what way forward is best for them. I think, being a medical advocate, you learn that it’s not one-size-fits-all. Volunteers really have to be there for [survivors] and what they need and not try and fit a script on [them]. 

In your opinion, why is it important to support an organization like Resilience?  

I think, personally speaking, Resilience really does save lives. Resilience can be the first line of defense for any survivor. For [Resilience’s] resources to make such a difference as to eliminate suicidality in the community, providing that support when someone may not have support, it can be life-changing for that person to be able to make that 180 [turn], heal, and move forward with their life. I think that’s why Resilience is so great. Not only do you get therapy services right after it happens, but you can still go back and do other things [Resilience] like art therapy [and] group therapy. You can be a survivor of any year and still go and participate and feel free to use the services. It’s such an encompassing organization in that you not only have options right after [the assault] happens, but you can be long-term and use all these resources to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself in the long haul. I think what Resilience does is great, and that’s why I’m still here.  

What would you tell someone who’s considering becoming a Volunteer Medical Advocate?  

Come in with an open mind. Not all survivors look the same. Join training with an open mind and be ready to make a difference in a community that needs it. We work in so many different hospitals and see so many different cases that I wouldn’t put a label or some kind of feeling on how this experience will go. It’s definitely not easy to get through training without having some emotions come up, but the impact that you’ll make long-term for survivors can be instrumental in the rest of their healing process. Showing that they have support right from the beginning has more impact on how they’ll be able to heal rather than being a silent survivor who may not even know that they have options to begin with. Know that you can make a really big impact and that this is something that could help someone go from not wanting to be here to wanting to continue and heal long-term. 

What’s one fun fact about you? 

I was born and raised on Chicago’s South Side, so I’m a Chicago native and my dad has owned a fast-food restaurant in the city for 22 years. I grew up in and around that store and he has made a very big difference. He’s kind of like the local legend. So in his neighborhood, everyone is coming to him for things like school drop-offs and kids wait in his lobby for parents to pick them up. It’s helping people out in the community. So, we’re a local South Side family who has a local business. That community loves him because he’s been there for so long and brings everyone together in a positive way. Everyone is really grateful that he’s there to help. 


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