There are many people in our community working to create positive change to end sexual violence. We want to feature as many of them as possible. If you would like to submit a recommendation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am often surprised at how many incorrect assumptions people make about sexual assault. I hope that in sharing correct information, it will help people to be more understanding of others.
– Meredith Vizzini
1. What is your relationship with STAR?
I am a clinical mental health counselor who hopes to specialize in working with individuals who have experienced trauma. I started volunteering with STAR as a hotline advocate in November 2015.
2. What led to your work in sexual assault prevention and/or response?
Like many people, someone close to me is a survivor of sexual assault. I heard secondhand how traumatic her experience was and I saw what it took away from her. I also learned that the system that is put in place to protect us is nowhere near where it needs to be in regards to helping survivors of sexual assault. I can only imagine how many others out there have had similar or worse experiences. I learned about STAR through this same friend of mine, and as soon as I heard they were opening a branch in NOLA, I knew I needed to be a part of it.
3. What do you find most rewarding about your involvement in this work?
The most rewarding part of my involvement has been getting the chance to act as a support for someone during a horrific time in their life. While the hotline is anonymous, I know that whoever I am talking to has survived something horrible. To be able to be present for them and help them in any way is an incredible opportunity.
4. What motivates you to keep going when things get difficult or discouraging?
I am motivated by the possibility that what I do or say could help someone or make their life easier. Life in general can be a challenge, so it’s important to take care of yourself and remember what you value. I value helping others, and volunteering for STAR gives me a greater opportunity to be of help.
5. What are some simple, day-to-day ways you promote positive change in your community?
I simply try to be mindful of my behavior and the effects my actions have on others. I always try to set a good example for others around me by acting and treating others the way I would want to be treated. Also, I make it a point to be respectful of others’ views even when they differ from my own.
Additionally, thanks to my training at STAR, I have a gained a lot of knowledge about sexual assault and the myths surrounding it. When the opportunity presents itself at my job or elsewhere, I like to share that knowledge with others. I am often surprised at how many incorrect assumptions people make about sexual assault. I hope that in sharing correct information, it will help people to be more understanding of others. Also, due to the training, I am better able to recognize when some form of sexual assault has occurred, which helps me to be a better clinician in the mental health field.
6. What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant about becoming an active member of this movement?
I would tell them not to hesitate! What are you waiting for? Anything you can do or contribute matters. Furthermore, how can there ever be a wrong time to do something, even something small, to help someone else? People will be surprised by how easy it is to integrate volunteering into your weekly routine.
STAR® is looking for highly motivated and passionate women and men interested in working with sexual trauma survivors in our community. Click here for more information about our volunteer opportunities. Click here to submit a volunteer application.