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.
It’s important to be open to uncomfortable truths and moments where you recognize that something you thought was OK could possibly be causing harm. –Tami Iraheta
1. What is your relationship with STAR?
TI: I had the opportunity to serve as a Louisiana Delta Service Corps Member at STAR as the Community Outreach Coordinator in New Orleans.
2. What led you to get involved with STAR and/or join the movement to end sexual violence?
TI: All my life, I and many people around me have experienced sexual trauma. I knew there was something wrong with not talking about it and just letting it continue, because the societal narrative tells us “it has always been and will continue to be this way.” My experiences have shown me the horrors of sexualized violence and rape culture. It wasn’t until I took a course in my undergrad that I began to understand the language to talk about these issues, and I really dove into studying how ingrained and systemic the issue really is.
I had recently graduated from Humboldt State University, and I wanted to try living in Louisiana (I was born and bred in Los Angeles County, California). While researching internships offered here, I came across STAR and looked into the organization. I’ve always loved how this organization acknowledges the need for direct services as well as the need for social change. Not many organizations focus on addressing the impacts of the issue while also creating systemic change in order to prevent harm from continuing to happen to their community.
3. What do you find most rewarding about your participation in this movement?
TI: I think I smile the most when someone comes up to me and says “thank you for what you do.” This work can be draining, and sometimes it can feel hopeless. So it feels really good when I hear back from people that what I’ve been doing matters, whether it’s a survivor confiding in me about their experience or a student talking to me at a tabling event.
4. What motivates you to keep going when things get difficult or discouraging?
TI: Too many times I have heard rape culture go unchecked and have seen sexual trauma affect my loved ones while no one seems to take it seriously. I think I want to be a part of the truth I preach to everyone when I speak up on systemic oppressions like sexualized/gendered violence.
A friend of mine showed me this quote a professor gave their students. They said, “So many of you want to change the world, and that is amazing and a very difficult path. Some days it might seem hopeless. But I want you to know that it’s OK if you only change one person’s life, and it’s OK if that person is you.” So even when I leave this realm, I can go in peace knowing I tried all I could to make a difference.
5. What are some simple, day-to-day ways you promote positive change in our community?
TI: I take the initiative to educate myself. It’s important to be open to uncomfortable truths and moments where you recognize that something you thought was OK could possibly be causing harm (like laughing at rape jokes and recognizing your privileges). Also, volunteering is a great direct way to help out, so go sign up if you haven’t!
6. What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant about becoming an active member of this movement?
TI: This work is hard on so many different levels, and finding time to do anything else other than school or work may sound unrealistic or time consuming. We understand that. We also know that change won’t happen until we hold each other and ourselves accountable. Everyone else before us has said “maybe someone else can do it,” but it all starts with us.