i get asked all the time about why i do what i do, or how i got to where i am. last weekend, i was asked to speak at a local university about my career path to a group of underclassmen. i was the youngest on my panel of speakers, and the newest to the career field.
when it came my turn to speak, i said i got here by taking every imaginable chance i was given and jesus. then came the question, why?
i don't know a woman that hasn't experienced some form of sexual violence. and sure, my own personal experiences and the experiences of those closest to me sparked a fire that i couldn't put out. but, those experiences aren't what keeps the fire burning.
my mentor asked me once, long ago, if i wasn't doing this work, would i be okay with someone else doing it...my answer was no. now, i'm not a lone fighter. i work for an incredible organization, with a magnificent team, and know countless others who work in this field. however, i couldn't live without being part of the team.
i do this for my nieces and my friends' kids, so they might not have sexual violence as part of their stories. that they will grow up to be bystanders and minimize the risks for their own communities. i do this for people i don't know. i do this so people can be safe.
my dream is that my work transforms how we talk about women and men. that we don't teach women to protect themselves from birth against this, and we don't teach men that they can't control their behaviors. i hope that we can begin to talk about women offenders, and that male victims are seen as weaker because they have experienced sexual violence. i pray that one day we can lessen the need for power and control to be displayed in such cruel and ridiculous ways. that our bodies are valued, and our brains treasured for the infinite things that we are able to create.
my other dream is that we can begin to talk about sex differently. that it's not dirty or scary. that it doesn't define you as a "whore". we need to change our language about people, about sex, and about relationships. sex wasn't created to be taboo. we've made it that way. how can we change the increasing statistics of sexual violence if we can't talk about sex in a very healthy way?
my answer to this why question is pretty simple, i guess. i do this, because i love my job. i love getting up every morning and going to work to develop something that serves my community and the world. i have purpose. i don't hate mondays. i love doing something that may change the way my community lives and thrives, long after i'm gone. i love facing a challenge that people say will never change. i love proving people wrong.
if you follow my social media at all, you will recognize the photos above. april is sexual assault awareness and prevention month. i've been sitting on this idea for a few weeks and i am excited at the opportunity to share some stats and stories about sexual violence. one of the best ways to create change is to create conversation, hit people at a heart level. if you have any questions, comments, or want to engage in conversation, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.