Liz Cramer has a calming, composed presence.
It was an auspicious characteristic during her 35-year career in healthcare where she worked as a respiratory and physical therapist. Now, as a Court Appointed Special Advocate, her peaceful nature brings hope to child victims of abuse and neglect.
“There is a Buddhist expression of ‘seeing things as they are’,” says Liz Cramer. “So when being with parents who abuse, neglect, or fail to protect a child, it helps me to just be there without interjecting my aggressive judgements, criticisms, anger and stories. My response, without this aggression, can then have a base of compassion.”
Liz, who has been practicing Buddhism for about ten years, brings this practice to her work advocating for children in the Fourth Judicial Court system here in Colorado Springs.
When she first met 13-year-old Arianna (her second case as a CASA), it was because the teen had become aggressive with her mother and was subsequently removed from her home. As the CASA assigned to the case, Liz quickly learned that not only was Arianna non-verbal and living with a disability, but that her mother was a shut-in whose own disabilities prevented the girl from receiving the nurturing she needed. As Arianna began to make progress and respond well to the structure of her residential treatment center, Liz went to work finding relatives that could be a resource for the girl. What she found was a relative already caring for the girl’s other siblings. Liz successfully advocated for Arianna to live with this relative. Today, because of Liz, Arianna is thriving in her new home with relatives instead of in a long-term treatment center.
When you meet an abusive parent without having judgement or criticism, says Liz, “There is always the knowing that underneath these actions and underneath the circumstances that create these actions, there is suffering. This inspires more compassion. There is always the returning to ‘why am I a CASA?’ To advocate for the child… the child who has an innate desire to not be split from this very parent.”
This empathy led Liz to also advocate for Arianna’s mom by asking the magistrate to seek help for her as well – help which she is now getting.
In addition to being a CASA, Liz is also on the Steering Committee for the Springs Mountain Sangha, has volunteered with a local Prison Mindfulness Program, and is proud mom to a daughter who herself advocates for abused women in Juno, Alaska.