Genna Green, B.S.
As an experienced Children’s Advocate for a domestic violence agency; Genna Green has spent years providing advocacy-based counseling and supportive resources to families who have suffered the ravages of domestic violence. Her involvement in their lives extends out into the community where she has done public trainings as well as conducted children’s groups for those affected by violence in the home. Prior to her career as an advocate, Green worked for 14 years as an Early Childhood educator. Green has recently authored the book, Grayson's Home (Happy Home); a book for children demonstrating how one young boy learns to deal with his feelings and the situations inherent to his environment.
Why did you become a Child Advocate?
I come from a large underprivileged family (9 sisters and 2 brothers) where resources were limited and gaining an understanding of the hardships that kept people impoverished was learned early. I quickly developed a love for community and wanted to work in a field where I was able to measurably add value and improve society by empowering those in need and enabling them to make and accomplish goals that would improve their lives.
What steps did you take (educationally) to arrive at where you are today?
My educational journey was long and complicated, as I had many complications in my life that delayed my academic success. Growing up in a large family means issues are more frequent which can cause a lot of distractions. My family dynamic has resulted in me being exposed to a lot of trauma and dynamics that I now use as further insight into situations that arise in my field of work. I now hold a B.S. and will continue my education throughout my lifetime.
Can you please tell us about your book?
Grayson's Home is about a 6 year old boy who lives in a problematic home environment where he often experiences his parents shouting and fighting. Grayson’s Home is also a Question and Answer storybook where Grayson describes some of the most common issues children experience as a result to being exposed to domestic violence. Through telling of his own challenges, Grayson promotes age appropriate discussion around feelings, safety planning and the importance of communication. The book provides caregivers a comfortable outlet for children to gently discuss the effects of domestic violence while exploring ways of problem solving and accessing help.
What made you want to write Grayson’s Home?
The first book, Grayson’s Home, was inspired by the information gathered through many intake sessions conducted with women and children whose lives have been affected by domestic violence. During the intake process, many parents described yelling and hitting as a regular part of their child's living environment. However, when parents were asked if they had ever spoken to their child about what the child had experienced the answer would often be, "No. He/she is too young to understand". Or, "I just want my child to forget it ever happened". This approach forces children to make sense of their experiences absent the guidance and support of a caregiver, often resulting in children adapting to the violence as the norm and/or mimicking the adverse behaviors witnessed.
I created this book to encourage communication between children and their caregiver and also to provide professionals (Children’s Advocates, Counselors, social workers, Educators, Child Protective Services, etc.) with a gentle way to interview and assess children suspected for having experienced domestic violence.
Has your life changed since you wrote it?
Yes it has. It has given me a greater sense of awareness. I have become more conscious of the many adults who grew up in homes just like Grayson’s, and how many children are currently able to relate to the home dynamic described in the book. Initially, my goal was to write a book that echoed the sentiments of the children I’ve worked with over the past few years. However, after writing the book and introducing it to folks, I learned how prevalent domestic violence is. This experience has helped me to realize that Grayson’s Home has to be much more than a book; it must be a movement to get people talking to children about an experience that impacts their life for potentially a lifetime.
How has the book affected your professional life?
It has made me become more passionate in my efforts to give children a voice and help parents become more inclined to speak to their children about their child’s feelings and experiences. I feel that this book will provide healing to a lot of families. There is something very special about a parent sitting, reading and listening to their child. This action tells children, “I care about your feelings”. I think this is the kind of engagement that helps parents and children bond; and it is the kind of communication that builds resilience. I believe the use of this book is key to having a happy home, even amongst dysfunction.
What advice would you offer someone who wanted to walk in your shoes professionally?
Go for it! The world needs more people like you to come into action and be enthusiastic about implementing social change! You must be mindful however, that in order to help others, you must have a keen ability to take care of yourself. To avoid compassion fatigue in this field, developing a strong self-care routine is a must. I think a lot of people come into this field wanting to save the world and take on everyone’s problems, without realizing the emotional effect of such work on one’s self. Sadly, I’ve seen this lead to a quick burn out.