Agents of Change: Emily Broussard

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The movement to end sexual trauma needs women and men who are passionate about human rights and justice for all. It needs people who are compassionate, understanding, and empathetic. If you have any of these qualities, then you are right for the job.

– Emily Broussard

1. What is your position at STAR?

I am both a medical advocate and hotline advocate with STAR. I have been a volunteer with STAR since March 2016.

2. How did you come to volunteer with STAR or in the field of sexual assault prevention/response?

As an undergraduate at UL Lafayette, I was a research assistant for the Psychology Department in the Sexual Violence Research Lab. While in the department I spearheaded my own research studies and assisted my professor and graduate students with their research. Through the lab, I learned about being an advocate. Once I graduated from UL, I moved to New Orleans and began volunteering in the child care center at Metropolitan Center for Women and Children. The social workers at Metro Center connected me with STAR.

3. What do you find most rewarding about your work at STAR?

The most rewarding thing about working with STAR is being there in the moment when someone really needs it. Most of the time, the survivors I work with are alone, and it is a very rewarding feeling to be with the survivor when they are in most need even if it is just to listen. STAR is also different than any other volunteer organization I’ve ever worked under. It’s not a one-time thing, and STAR trusts its volunteers by giving them a lot of responsibility. This actually makes me feel like I’m making a difference in the survivors’ lives in the moment.

4. What motivates you to keep going when things get difficult or discouraging, and how do you practice self-care?

I like to reflect every time I visit with a survivor. That reflection time is what motivates me to keep going. I always think about what I will do differently next time to ensure that I make the survivor feel as comfortable as possible. I also think about how the definition of comfort is different for every survivor, and I ponder what that might look like the next time I visit a survivor.

5. What are some ways you promote positive change in your community, outside of your work duties?

I volunteer on weekends because during the weekday I am a full-time/over-time fourth grade English Language Arts teacher here in New Orleans. Many of the students I teach experience extreme poverty and the hardships associated with urban poverty. I have many missions as a teacher of nine- and ten-year-olds. One is to empower them to see school as an option to lift them out of their situation. Another is to provide them with a safe and enriching space to grow as a kind and compassionate human being who thinks critically about the world around them. Lastly, my mission is to help students see their self-worth and to build the confidence and strength that they will need in order to endure the times ahead. My students need to know that they are valuable and that their lives should be celebrated despite what the world around them may say.

6. What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant about becoming an active member of the movement to end sexual trauma?

I know that it seems like a large and scary thing to undertake. But if not you, then who? The movement to end sexual trauma needs women and men who are passionate about human rights and justice for all. It needs people who are compassionate, understanding, and empathetic. If you have any of these qualities, then you are right for the job. These qualities are what outweigh the scariness of it all.

Get involved and make change with STAR:

Click here for more ways to get involved.

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