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.
Knowing that at the end of the day you just made an impact on somebody’s life in some way, big or small, is an amazing feeling. You just promoted change and strength in an individual’s life. –Jacki Savoy
1. What is your relationship with STAR?
JS: I am a volunteer for STAR. I volunteer for both the hospital and the 24 hour crisis hotline. At the hospital, I help the survivor to feel comfortable during the forensic exam, help the survivor speak with law enforcement, inform them of STAR’s services, and provide anything else they may need. I am an ear for them to tell their story. As for when I work the hotline, I talk them through the issue they may be having and inform them of STAR’s services, as well as any other local services.
2. What led you to get involved with STAR and/or join the movement to end sexual violence?
JS: I got involved with STAR when I came across their website, as I was searching Google for somewhere to volunteer. I am a Social Work major at Southeastern Louisiana University. Volunteering is something I always wanted to be a part of. I filled out a volunteer application online and came in for an interview, where I spoke with Laneceya Russ and Margaret Reynolds. They were so nice and explained in depth what STAR does and the services they offer to survivors and their families. I loved everything I was hearing right off the bat. I always believed in the power of a strong woman and the fact that “no” means no! Although sexual violence affects men and women, it is more common among women. I have a hard time stomaching the idea of people harming others—especially in a sexual manner. It brings out a rise in me that makes me want to fight back and help in any way I can.
3. What do you find most rewarding about your participation in this movement?
JS: What I find most rewarding about volunteering are the little things, for example, when I’m sitting in the hospital with a survivor, and they reach out and grab my hand for comfort when they’re scared. I’m just a stranger, and they grab my hand as if I’m one of their family members. That’s an awesome feeling to me! It means that I’ve built up a level of trust and rapport with them, and that must be hard for them after their trust was just broken. I also find it rewarding when the survivor thanks me, like I had really made the exam or just the general process easier for them because I was there to help. Also, with the crisis hotline, when I get a repeat caller throughout the day or night because they feel comfortable listening to my advice or just talking with me. Those are the joys and the reassurances that I’m doing my job well.
4. What motivates you to keep going when things get difficult or discouraging?
JS: What motivates me to keep going is knowing that there can never be too much promotion of awareness and positivity. If we promote enough awareness as a team, we will be able to help and prevent people from becoming victims in the first place. Helping others is my passion. I truly believe that is what God put me on this earth to do.
5. What are some simple, day-to-day ways you promote positive change in our community?
JS: The ways I promote positive change in our community are little things, such as waving at others while driving, smiling at others, introducing myself and asking them how their day is going, keeping the door open for people coming in and out of places. These little things could make or break people’s days. Smiles seem so small but they could make a huge impact on an individual’s mood. Also, when I see someone in need on the streets, I buy them groceries.
6. What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant about becoming an active member of this movement?
JS: Advice I would give to someone who is hesitant about becoming an active member of this movement is: yes, some of the survivors stories can be upsetting, but to meet these people and to be there for them through it all is the most rewarding gift. Knowing that at the end of the day you just made an impact on somebody’s life in some way, big or small, is an amazing feeling. You just promoted change and strength in an individual’s life. It’s an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment. We need more people to join the movement and advocate for survivors of sexual assault. It is appalling that the rates are so high. I think I speak for every sexual assault worker/volunteer when I say I wish we were out of a job. My six nieces and nephews are a part of the next generation, and for them I hope to help spread awareness. We need volunteers to spread the word and lend their time to these amazing and strong survivors. It is so rewarding, these people and your community deserve your time. Even if you can’t formally volunteer, spread the word!