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.
When I see the barriers and negative treatment survivors face after disclosing their
assaults to family, friends, and systems, I become motivated to fight that injustice. —Morgan Lamandre
1. What is your role at STAR?
I am the Vice President of Survivor Services at STAR. Essentially, that means I oversee any of the services provided to sexual assault survivors. This includes our systems response program, which coordinates the sexual assault response team and provides education and training for systems response professionals such as law enforcement, medical, and prosecutors.
2. What led you to get involved with STAR and/or join the movement to end sexual violence?
I got involved with STAR, formerly the Rape Crisis Center, in February 2007 when I started volunteering as a hospital advocate. I began working at STAR full-time in January 2013.
As I accompanied survivors at hospitals, I noticed that many did not want to report their assaults to law enforcement or, even if they did, they had certain needs after being assaulted that could not be taken care of within the criminal justice system such as housing, education, and employment issues. These issues were always in the back of my mind, but even more so when I attended law school, because it seemed obvious that the easiest way to helps survivors with these issues were through attorneys.
I graduated from law school in 2012, but I was unable to complete the bar exam (I was 33 weeks pregnant—and contractions during the middle of the exam were quite distracting). So, I withdrew and waited until the following year to take it. After I had my son, I was in in what I call, “J.D. purgatory.” It’s the time period when you have a law degree, but you are not yet licensed to practice law. That’s when the volunteer coordinator position became available at STAR. I applied for the position, and began to work at STAR full-time in January 2013.
In my second week of working in my new position, I told our Executive Director we needed to open up a legal services program for sexual assault survivors to help them with their needs that could not be taken care of within the criminal justice system. She questioned whether this was possible. After I passed the bar exam and became a licensed attorney, my pursuit of the legal services program became more serious. In December 2013, with our Executive Director’s full support, we applied for (and later received) the Legal Assistance for Victims grant from the Office on Violence Against Women. Due to my persistence and the help of this grant, we now offer free legal representation to sexual assault survivors.
3. What do you find most rewarding about your work with STAR?
I love being an attorney, but the perception of attorneys is not always positive. It’s rewarding to be able to creatively use the law in ways to help survivors, which also helps paint the legal profession in a positive light for survivors.
4. What motivates you to keep going when things get difficult or discouraging?
The difficulties are what motivate me! When I see the barriers and negative treatment survivors face after disclosing their assaults to family, friends, and systems, I become motivated to fight that injustice.
5. What are some simple, day-to-day ways you promote positive change in our community?
I promote positive change in our community by taking action. We can choose to keep saying that things need to change and stand by to wait for someone else to make a difference or we can step up. I prefer the latter. I want my actions to inspire others to promote positive change, so I strive to live by the words of Ghandhi, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
6. What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant about becoming an active member of this movement?
Believe in yourself, this movement, and your ability to make a difference in someone’s life! There are so many needs of this movement, so at times it can seem overwhelming, but you do not have to do it alone. There are many people taking risks and working endlessly to end sexual violence. I know that we will end sexual violence if more people become an active part of this movement. It starts with you; it starts with promoting positive social change.