There are many people in our community working to create positive change to end sexual violence. We want to meet as many of them as possible. If you would like to submit a recommendation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What we do does matter. What we do does make a difference. The world is not hopeless, and we can do something to change it. We see the significant and tangible differences at STAR every day. –Lisa Redmond
1. What is your relationship with STAR?
LR: I have been a part of STAR since the beginning of 2011. I volunteered as a hospital advocate for my first three years and have recently also started working shifts on STAR’s 24-hour crisis hotline. I’ve had the pleasure of being a volunteer mentor with STAR’s 3D Peer Educator program for high school students for its past three cohorts and have also been a part of the Prevention Action Coalition since its inception last year.
2. What led you to get involved with STAR and/or join the movement to end sexual violence?
LR: I pretty much just got really angry about the status quo and was looking for a way to change the things I didn’t like about the world. I’m not the kind of person to just sit around accept things like “well that’s just the way it is” or “life’s not fair.” As I transitioned into adulthood through college, I was frustrated with how I was treated and how I saw the young women around me treated. After college, a few books fell serendipitously into my hands, and I read about other women’s experiences across the world and got even angrier. I had a coworker who volunteered at STAR, and when I heard about it I was initially attracted to the idea of helping people who had these types of experiences recover and go on. I had no idea that STAR would also provide such an effective and fulfilling avenue for the change I so desired to see in the world and that I would get to be a part of that work for years to come.
3. What do you find most rewarding about your participation in this movement?
LR: So many people have told me to my face, “You know, it’s never going to change.” I’ve heard it all. People have told me to not even bother and to “just go get married and forget about all that.” “There’s nothing you can do. There will always be bad/evil/crime.” Ad nauseam.
To be quite honest, I find proving these people wrong very rewarding. I’ve seen a cultural shift in our community even within just the past few years. I’ve seen survivors who might once have had their lives destroyed because of what happened to them exhibit resiliency and restoration. I’ve seen people who would once have been isolated, alone, and ostracized find hope and strength in a community of fellow survivors who stand by them, speak out with them, and find justice with them. What we do does matter. What we do does make a difference. The world is not hopeless, and we can do something to change it. We see the significant and tangible differences at STAR every day.
4. What motivates you to keep going when things get difficult or discouraging?
LR: I always remember, if not me, then who? There’s a human tendency to think that someone else will take care of things. And that’s a dangerous attitude to have. We have all been in situations where we need help from others. If every person did something small to help others every day, the world would be a tremendously different place. Understandably, we all live in a way that takes care of ourselves. But if everyone were to switch their focus from self-centeredness to other-centeredness, we would find our own needs and priorities naturally get taken care of while those in need are simultaneously empowered and uplifted.
5. What are some simple, day-to-day ways you promote positive change in our community?
LR: Open dialogue is so important to community change. I never want to engage in conversation about “hot topic” issues if either side is looking to convince the other of something. Dialogue is about gaining deeper understanding and empathy. I try to engage in open, peaceful conversations and spread information and awareness as much as possible. The more informed people are the more likely they are to take action, and the more likely we are to create a community where violence is genuinely not accepted, where survivors are not condemned, and where a mutual respect and honor for all people is our reality.
6. What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant about becoming an active member of this movement?
LR: Not everyone is just born with a deep-seated fervor to end violence or save the whales or defend the rain forest. I always tell people, if you want to care about something, expose yourself to it.
We all agree, for example, cancer is awful. But not everyone is willing to shave their heads bald for cancer research. But the second you lose someone you love to cancer, you may suddenly find yourself to be one of those head-shaving, charity 5K-running, research-fundraising, loud and proud awareness spreaders.
If apathy is what hinders you, I encourage you to go out and make these issues real for yourself. Volunteer in a cancer treatment center, spend time at a children’s shelter, volunteer as a youth mentor, or go to a Creating Change workshop at STAR. You may find something awakened in you that you can’t suppress. You may also discover one of the most fulfilling realities in our human existence – that what you do does make a difference. Combined with the contributions of others, you can, in fact, change the world or someone’s life for the better. And that reality will grow in you, spread to others, and spurn us onward to a healthier, happier, more peaceful world.