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.
Rome didn’t fall in a day and neither will rape culture. –Kaeli Egler
1. What is your relationship with STAR?
KE: I’ve been a volunteer and mentee of STAR for the past two years and am currently involved as a Social Change intern.
2. What led you to get involved with STAR and/or join the movement to end sexual violence?
KE: I noticed and felt the need to be a part of the movement when I realized so many of the women I love in my life have been affected by sexual violence. It trickled into my life from seemingly harmless catcalling by fraternity row (causing a classmate to take the long way home) to endless pulling and grabbing when a group of the girls wanted to go out, leaving us to storm out and get a late night bite instead. It slapped me in the face though, when a close friend was raped by a trusted acquaintance and the majority of her friends said she was “being dramatic” and it was “regretted sex.” These instances of violence ranged from uncomfortable inconveniences to an event that ultimately changed a woman’s perspective on the most intimate parts of her being.
It meant a lot to me when friends came to me to talk, but I wasn’t nearly prepared enough for the toll these events were taking on their psyches. I realized I needed to educate myself more so I could fully aid my friends in their day-to-day lives. I also decided I wanted to help others–men and women–who have experienced sexual violence and to work towards building and promoting social change. Through some research, I found STAR, which became the place that educated me and gave me the opportunity to create this change.
3. What do you find most rewarding about your participation in this movement?
KE: I find it extremely rewarding when I’m able to share a new perspective or information during a controversial conversation about something like rape culture or what constitutes sexual violence. I find those conversations to be where social change begins–where you begin bridging gaps in understanding and compassion.
4. What motivates you to keep going when things get difficult or discouraging?
KE: My friends and family have been immensely supportive. They’ll listen to me rant when I’m frustrated about a ridiculous statistic or ruling I read, then motivate me to be persistent. It normally ends with a “Rome didn’t fall in a day and neither will rape culture”-related speech. They’re a great audience as well; I’ll informally give a presentation or speech and they will respond as the “devil’s advocate” to make me more creative in my approach.
5. What are some simple, day-to-day ways you promote positive change in our community?
KE: Challenging harmful comments or ways of thinking among family, friends, and that random person I just met. It pushes people to be more thoughtful and brings dynamic conversations into their routine about how they may unconsciously portray people and certain topics.
6. What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant about becoming an active member of this movement?
KE: Call up, stop by, visit a website, read an article, take a class; connect yourself however you feel most comfortable. You’ll become aware that sexual violence affects you and everyone around you in some manner, then you’ll be questioning why you didn’t get involved sooner. Once you reach out, it’s apparent that everyone is so inviting, ready to answer questions, and excited to get more people on board.
Kaeli authored two essays for STAR’s blog in December 2015: Pro(Social) Tips: Treating service industry workers like people, and Fun and Inviting! Tales of sexual harassment in the service industry.