Agents of Change: Amy Noto

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I have had so many survivors express how grateful they are that an organization like STAR exists. Being able to support someone during one of the most traumatic moments in their life is both a privilege and an honor.

– Amy Noto

1. What is your position at STAR?

I am a Resource Advocate at STAR’s New Orleans branch.

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

As an undergrad at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, I was interested in applying for counseling graduate programs but wanted some real world experience, so I applied to volunteer with a local sexual assault center. I became a crisis line advocate and really found a passion for working with survivors. I volunteered with that organization for three years.

Fast forward a couple of years and I found myself back in New Orleans. I was enrolled in a counseling graduate program and decided that I wanted to specialize in working with survivors of trauma. I was excited to find out about STAR and applied to be an intern. Through my internship, I was able to become a part-time medical advocate, where I gained a lot of experience working one-on-one with survivors and their loved ones. About a month after I graduated with my Masters in Counseling, I was offered a full-time position as a Resource Advocate.

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

Working directly with survivors is what I find to be the most rewarding. I started out as a medical advocate providing accompaniment to survivors during their forensic medical exams. Every time I would leave a call-out, I would be reminded of why I continue to do this work. I have had so many survivors express how grateful they are that an organization like STAR exists. Being able to support someone during one of the most traumatic moments in their life is both a privilege and an honor.

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

I think about the process survivors go through and their resiliency. I always remind myself that if survivors can get through tough times, so can I. When I start to feel defeated, I think back to a time when a survivor thanked me for being there when no one else was or taking the time to listen to their story. Their strength is a huge inspiration to me and why I am able to do this work.

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

Before I worked at STAR, I worked in the restaurant industry. Since the allegations against John Besh and his restaurant group became public, people are finally starting to realize that this is a major problem that needs to be addressed. Since then, I have started attending community meetings and am working with a group, Shift Change, to bring about awareness and prevention of sexual violence in the restaurant industry.

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

I’ll be honest, this work can be challenging and I was definitely hesitant when I decided to start volunteering. However, it is the most important and rewarding work I have ever done. My advice would be to start by educating yourself about what’s going on in the movement.

Read books or articles about rape culture, have conversations with your peers and share your knowledge. It may seem like a huge undertaking but you can start by making small adjustments in your life. A good place to start is by believing survivors! Calling out people who victim blame or spread misinformation and bringing about awareness in your community are other ways to promote change. These everyday actions may seem small but will build the foundation to create major changes in the way society views survivors of sexual trauma.

 

Get involved and make change with STAR:

Click here for more ways to get involved.

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