Agents of Change: Collin Wade

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It is my genuine belief that patently false accusations are incredibly rare, and if someone is speaking up, something problematic happened, regardless of whether it rises to the level of criminal or civil liability.

– Collin Wade

1. What is your connection to STAR?

I’m a lead organizer of Me Too NOLA, a local organization that seeks to join in the national conversation in a local and personalized way. Presently, we hold speak-out events where people who have experienced sexual assault and/or sexual harassment can share their stories in a safe and positive environment.

These speak-outs empower, validate, and bring healing to survivors while also raising awareness that sexual assault and sexual harassment are being experienced by people in our community. They also encourage empathy from witnesses which we believe incites activism.

2. What do you find most rewarding about your involvement in these efforts?

I find it most rewarding to hear from survivors who have found their experiences of sharing at these events helpful in their healing process, and to be able to bring survivors together so that they don’t suffer alone.

3. What motivates you to keep going when things get difficult or discouraging?

Every day someone I know, including myself, experiences sexual harassment, assault, abuse or sexism. I don’t even have to look for anecdotes or stats to keep me motivated because the examples are everywhere — it’s completely ingrained in our culture from how young boys are raised to treat women, to how young girls are socialized to be pleasing to men, to how I’m afraid to walk my dog alone after dark.

4. What are some ways you promote positive change in your community, outside of organizing Me Too NOLA?

I try to be vocal about the issues I care about; I call my congresspersons; I vote in all elections. I do pro bono legal work.

As a piano teacher, I teach self-expression through the arts and mindfulness meditation — skills which I believe help people cope with trauma. I hope to one day be able to give free or discounted private lessons because I believe strongly in the value of the one-on-one relationship a piano teacher has with her student.

I try to be a good listener and expose myself to diverse ideas, opinions, and lifestyles, and make sure everyone can participate in the conversation. That is one reason why Me Too NOLA is not just for women who have been sexually assaulted or sexually harassed; it is for people of all genders.

I also try to assume the best about people – even when it’s difficult.

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

My advice would depend upon the person. If you are a survivor, my advice is for you to take it at your own pace and not push yourself. Some days, activism may feel like a good idea and other days, you might need to retreat — and that’s ok. If you want to get involved with Me Too NOLA, there’s big and small ways to help —  you can hang flyers, attend a speak-out, speak out yourself, help organize a speak-out, work on the website, etc.

If you are hesitant to get involved because you are a man, first of all, let me say that sexual assault and sexual harassment are not only happening to women. We need men to speak out and share too, and to support other men who share. We also need allies in this battle. Volunteer to help out with Me Too NOLA or another group working in this space – we are happy to have you.

To people in general: believe survivors. This doesn’t mean forgetting “innocent until proven guilty,” it simply means supporting survivors for speaking out. Do not start off in a place of doubt and skepticism or wondering what the survivor did wrong. It is incredibly difficult to accuse someone of sexual assault or sexual harassment (or to press charges/sue because of it) because suddenly the accuser’s whole life becomes subject to public scrutiny and judgment. Survivors do not make their accusations lightly and most survivors never speak up at all. It is my genuine belief that patently false accusations are incredibly rare, and if someone is speaking up, something problematic happened, regardless of whether it rises to the level of criminal or civil liability.

6. When is the next Me Too NOLA speak-out? 

Our next speak-out event is on Tuesday, March 20th at Twelve Mile Limit. People can find more information here and can sign up to speak at the event here. If people are interested in volunteering with Me Too NOLA, they can sign up here.

People can also follow us on social media: on Facebook @metoonola, on Instagram @me.too.nola and on Twitter @metoonola.

Get involved and make change with STAR:

Click here for more ways to get involved.

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