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.
I saw that sexual trauma knows no bounds–not gender, age, class, or race. Thus, as a feminist and a human being with love for my community, I was inspired to take part in a movement that mattered so much to so many lives.–Kaela Lovejoy
KL: I am serving with the Louisiana Delta Service Corps as the Volunteer Coordinator at STAR’s New Orleans office. My responsibilities include recruiting and managing volunteers, scheduling hotline and medical advocates, and generally ensuring that everyone involved in our volunteer program is well-trained and qualified to provide the best services they can for survivors.
2. What led you to get involved with STAR and/or join the movement to end sexual violence?
KL: During college, I had the opportunity to become a mentor for local middle school girls with an organization called Women and Youth Supporting Each Other (WYSE). In my experiences leading conversations about topics like sexual education, violence, and gender roles with pre-teens, the pervasiveness of sexual violence—on all ends of the spectrum, from cyber-harassment to rape— became clear. During my senior year I was Executive Director of WYSE, and as a student leader I witnessed the passion and commitment of so many young activists fighting to reclaim their bodies from the violence that had affected them. I saw that sexual trauma knows no bounds–not gender, age, class, or race. Thus, as a feminist and a human being with love for my community, I was inspired to take part in a movement that mattered so much to so many lives.
KL: There are days when I leave work and think: “There is nothing I could have done with my time today that would have been more meaningful to me.” I have always felt a drive to take immediate action about something I am passionate about, and the opportunity to both educate others and work directly with survivors as part of my job is extremely fulfilling. I think that while the movement to combat sexual trauma is taking off in some spaces, like college campuses, our society has a lot more fighting to do. I am proud to work with such intelligent, capable people as those who belong to this movement and to be a part of change as the movement grows.
4. What motivates you to keep going when things get difficult or discouraging?
KL: I think it’s true of any social justice movement that those working for a cause will feel burnt out at times. When I’ve had a particularly hard experience, I try to remind myself that I am tough enough to keep going. I also am a huge proponent of having hobbies that you are excited to live for. It’s important to be able to take your mind off of things and immerse yourself in something you truly enjoy. Whether it be playing with my animals or cooking with my friends, you have to find something you love that’s separate from your work.
5. What are some simple, day-to-day ways you promote positive change in our community?
KL: When I was a kid, I was speaking to my mother and happened to say something mean about one of my classmates. In response, she looked at me and reprimanded: “I never want to hear you talk badly about someone ever again. You should always be kind, no matter what.” While it seems simplistic, to this day I think this is one of the most important things she’s ever done for me. As an adult, especially in this line of work, you see how harsh the world is. I truly think that a basic element that is lacking in our culture is empathy. Putting yourself in another’s shoes, trying to understand the way they walk through the world, is the basis of love. If we could all try harder to comprehend the feelings of others and regard them with a level of kindness, I believe that the violence we inflict on others can be lessened. Empathy can be learned to a degree, and this pro-social behavior can be passed on from person to person until kindness transforms into a community norm.
6. What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant about becoming an active member of this movement?
KL: I would tell them that there is no certain “type” of person that is involved in this movement. Survivors are every kind of person, from every corner of the world, as are those who come forward to help these survivors heal. If you want to see an end to trauma and are willing to understand the basis of power-based violence and oppression, you are welcome. You don’t need to be a warrior. All we ask is that you fight sexual violence how you can, and you bring the knowledge you gain through your participation in this movement to touch every space that you go.
Kaela Lovejoy is the Volunteer Coordinator for STAR in New Orleans. If interested in learning more about volunteering to help staff our newly established sexual assault-specific 24/7 hotline in New Orleans, visit our website or email email@example.com.