Love wins

Love wasn’t on the ballot yesterday in Virginia, or anywhere in the nation. But love was present in our polling places and showed up in the ballot box.

We the people collectively made history yesterday, radiating love as we delivered an emphatic NO to hate, to violence, to racism and misogyny.

Make no mistake: this was not a victory for a party. It was not a victory for politics. Pundits who have been focused on what this means for Democrats and Republicans, who have been counting wins and forecasting seats and talking about how power is going to be divided still don’t get it. There was something else going on.

A new energy is emerging amongst us. It was an outrage to wake up just one year ago to the prospect of a national leader who had been transparent and unabashed about his racism, his sexism, his elitism, and the violence he had perpetrated against women. It was, and still is, untenable that such a person should be embraced by establishment politics and by the majority of white men (and many white women) in this nation as the best possible choice for the highest policy position in the land. It was an outrage; and it was also a clarion call.

We the people answered that call. In particular, people of color, young people, LGBTQ people and women, answered that call. Over this past year we channeled our anger into record numbers of marches, into organizing within faith communities and civic communities, and into educating ourselves.

We fought to restore faith in democracy and the power of the vote. We stepped up in record numbers to run for local and statewide office—because we wanted change, because we wanted incumbents to know that “politics as usual” was not acceptable, because we wanted others in our communities to have a choice.

love sign-white

Many candidates persevered in the face of personal attacks based on racism, homophobia, transphobia, and anti-immigrant sentiments. Most candidates were running for the first time, most didn’t follow the usual scripts for preparing to run for office successfully—and every single one of them was a part of history yesterday, whether they won their particular race or not.

Their candidacies are testaments to their personal resilience and to the resonance of their platforms of justice, fairness, inclusion, equity, and caring for the long-term interests for all of us. In short, love.

We have been acting out of love for ourselves and each other as we organized over this past year, as we encouraged each other to step up and run for office, as we funded campaigns and promoted candidates and filled social media platforms with messages about the importance of voting.

Yesterday love won, and this is just the beginning. We will continue to fight for compassion and justice, for fairness and equity, for abundance and joy, for inclusion and community, and liberation and kindness…because we the people know that all of us deserve nothing less.


Kristi VanAudenhove is the Executive Director of the Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance. 


Joining the Action Alliance adds your voice to making change in Virginia. Start your membership today or call 804.377.0335. 

In the Wake of Charlottesville: A Message to our Members

As our work week begins, here at the Action Alliance we are pausing to reflect on the violence that was perpetrated by predominantly male, white supremacists in Charlottesville over the weekend. Our hearts go out to our members, friends and colleagues who live and work in Charlottesville, and those who chose to travel from elsewhere in the state to join the counter-protest. You have our love and our compassion as you process and recover from the experience of being the targets of/witnessing hate-filled, identity-based violence. Those of you who work at the Shelter for Help in Emergency and the Sexual Assault Resource Agency are most especially in our hearts as you hold both the trauma of the racial and ethnic violence in your community with the violence that you confront in your work every day.

The images over the weekend of white supremacists shouting angry words, pumping their fists and raising weapons into the air looked far too familiar. In our work to end sexual and domestic violence we know that intimidation and violence are tools used by those who feel entitled to have power over others—especially when that entitlement feels threatened. We also know that there is no more dangerous time than the hours that follow a challenge to that controlling and violent behavior. We all witnessed this phenomenon as we watched one of the white men who had come to perpetrate racial violence intentionally drive a car into a crowd of anti-racists, taking a life and damaging countless more.

Twitter-Sofia Armen

Twitter/Sofia Armen

The lessons tens of thousands of us across the country have learned as we have taken on the work of trying to end sexual and domestic violence provide a filter through which we viewed the events of the weekend. We know that gender-based violence is rooted in oppression—and inseparable in both cause and effect from other forms of identity-based violence, most especially racism. Survivors have taught us that hateful language can sometimes leave deeper scars than physical violence. Perpetrators have taught us that it is not the behavior of their target that leads them to violence, but rather their own deeply held beliefs in their right to use violence to get what they want. Attempting to coordinate a community response has taught us that there is tremendous value in learning from our mistakes—taking the time to do a careful review of system responses when a life is lost to determine how those systems might have acted differently to prevent that loss of life and then making changes in the response.

Most of all we have learned that real power does not come from social status, from access to resources, from controlling others. Real power comes from truth telling. Truth telling about the history of our country, including our great Commonwealth. Truth telling about the origins and the impact of privilege, hate and violence. Truth telling from each of us about the harm that we have experienced—and the harm that we have caused.

…Real power does not come from status…access to resources…or from controlling others. Real power comes from truth telling…equity…and love.

Chip Somodeville-Getty Images

Chip Somodeville/Getty Images

Real power comes with equity. Equity is valuing all beings and all living things—letting go of our hierarchical notions that place some at the top of pyramids while others bear all of weight at the bottom. Equity is leveling the playing field for everyone—and celebrating all who choose to play. Equity is making reparations for harm caused by historical violence, including racism and ethnocentrism. Equity is seeing current injustice and making the changes it demands.

Real power comes from love. Love is compassion for ourselves and others. Love is forgiveness for ourselves and others. Love is naming violence and setting boundaries around behaviors—while holding open the possibility of rejoining the circle. Love is working together to build communities where children and adults can be curious, resilient, joyful, loving human beings able to respect and care for each other.

On behalf of all of us at the Action Alliance, take good care of yourselves and those in your close circle this week. Know that you are loved and the work that you do every day is making a difference. The Action Alliance will continue to work every day to end violence. Today we recommit to building racial justice; among our many efforts, we are partnering with Black Women’s Blueprint, Trans Sistas of Color Project, Black Youth Project (BYP100) and many other statewide groups to sponsor the March for Black Women September 30 in Washington, DC. We will soon be sending out a call for volunteers and support and we hope that you will join us.

In Peace,

The Leadership Team of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance


Featured image source: Democracy Now

#Charlottesville #DefendCville #whitesupremacy #racialjustice


Joining the Action Alliance adds your voice to making change in Virginia. Start your membership today or call 804.377.0335. 

 

Meet Nina Aristy

Why do you do this Anti-Violence work?
There are endless reasons why I choose to do this form of work, and honestly the list gets progressively longer as I continue to do this work. I guess if we get to the core of it all I find comfort in the idea that nobody is alone and everyone is heard, therefore by doing this work I am working into that thought.

What would you like to learn your first year on your new job? 
That is a tough one. I think I have hit the backspace button too many times trying to get the wording right, because in all honesty I want to learn everything. I want to learn from the ground up on assisting individuals on a personal level (like all the folks in the hotline do so gracefully and empathetically). I would like to learn how we use that hotline data and then compound that into policy that will ultimately create safer spaces for victims. I want to learn how we communicate that to public in a matter that makes them impassioned and part of the movement. Basically I want to learn how to help. How I can make that chain of events that creates change, happen. I know it is a lot and most likely will not fit into my first year at this job, but I at least want those building blocks.

oscar-waoWhat is the latest book you have read and would you recommend it?
The latest book I have read is The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and I would absolutely recommend this book. I am a very proud Dominican, and I think if you want to get to know more about Dominican culture and history this is a nice introduction. Also, it is a very quick read, so if you are up for some laughs and a few tears and a genuine tale of a Dominican life both for natives and immigrants- this pretty much has that.

If you were a vegetable what would you be? Why?
I would probably be garlic. During the Winter I have to be far and away from the cold because I am easily frozen. I blossom in the Spring and always seem to show up in a group (I come from a big family so being alone is never an option). I am involved in a lot of things, just like garlic is involved in almost every meal.  I am not the biggest vegetable, but I do pack a punch in flavor (so I am notably unforgettable).

What are the 3 things you love about Virginia?

  1. The lifetime full of memories I have made here with the people that became my family.
  2. The food. Honestly, I have gained about 10 pounds since I got here and I do not regret a single bite that has lead me to gaining it.
  3. The advisers and mentors I have had that have supported and guided me.

nina-grouping

If you had one box for all your stuff, what would you put in it?
I would put my boyfriend, my whole family (especially my beautiful nephew), all my friends, and my doggies

What is the most incredible view you have ever seen?
I guess this is sort of cheating, but at the same time it does answer the question. The most incredible view I have ever seen is always changing because it is moment, not particularly a fixed place or person. These moments happen very rarely and spontaneously, for me it has happened only a handful of times. It is this moment where you feel like everything is just right. You are with the right people and the right mindset and everything just comes into focus. For me this has happened while singing in cartoon voices with my partner during a 6 hour drive at midnight. It has happened while surrounded by my friends in my college living room just telling past stories of our lives. Those moments where I do not need a picture or a journal entry to remind me of what I felt, who was there, or what was said in order for me to picture that exact moment in its entirety. Those for me are the most incredible views I have ever seen.

Lastly, what excites you most about your new job at the Action Alliance? 
I am excited to get to know everyone and help in different tasks and projects. I am just very excited to get to learn from everyone here.

Nina recently graduated from the University of Richmond with a BA in Political Science. She minored in Women’s Studies and Latin American studies. Currently, she is studying for her LSATs and aspires to do legal assistance and advocacy for sexual and domestic violence victims. 

_____________________________________________________________________________

Joining the Action Alliance adds your voice to making change in Virginia. Start your membership today or call 804.377.0335. 

To inquire about submissions for blog, please check the submissions page for requirements or email colson@vsdvalliance.org

Meet Dominique Colbert

Why do you do this Anti-Violence work?
There are so many people out there who are either too afraid to ask for help or who do not realize they are in a situation where they may need help. It was because of others’ Anti-violence work that I was able to recognize what was wrong in a past relationship of mine, remove myself from the situation, and build myself back up. I just want to be able to be that for others who may be in violent situations.

What is the latest book you have read and would you recommend it?
The latest book I have read was titled “The Dream Giver.” I would recommend it. It is split into two parts which both highlight the journey of following your dreams. The first part is a fable which highlights the trials that come with the decision to leave your comfort zone and follow your dreams as well as their solutions. The second part explains the fable and relates it to real life situations.

cornIf you were a vegetable what would you be? 
If I were a vegetable, I would be corn. I just love corn. It is so sweet and no matter where it travels it pretty much stays in its original form. If you think about it too hard, it encourages you to remain true to who you are no matter what environment you’re in.

 

What are the 3 things you love about Virginia?

  1. I love RVA. I love Richmond because it has given me the best 4 years of my life so far. I went to school here, I learned so much about myself and others here. I love the culture and all the beautiful scenery here.
  2. I love that Virginia is on the coast so the beach is never too far away.
  3. I love that Virginia is has so many beautiful views that are yet, so versatile; from mountains to grassy fields, rivers and lakes to beautifully lit cities.

What would be the title of your autobiography?
Evolving and Resolving – (Becoming a better person every day through learning from others; Using what I learn to resolve bits of my past)

If you had one box for all your stuff, what would you put in it?
I would imagine it to be a pretty large box. Maybe a house-sized box.. made of brick.. with cutouts for sunlight and openings for others to enter and exit. I have a lot of stuff, I’m attached to it all, and since there was no size limit placed on the box, I would try to bring all of my belongings. If I had to choose the most important things however, I would bring my laptop which has all of my films and written pieces on it, a few cozy items from my closet, a few good books I own but have yet to read, and some dog accessories/food to attract the puppy I would want with me but do not yet have.

What is the most incredible view you have ever seen?
The most incredible view I have ever seen was in Miami. It was more of a series of views, like a video. I was looking out the window of an Uber. It was super late, yet everything was still lit up; the buildings and the people. Everything was just so active and I absolutely loved it. 

Lastly, what excites you most about your new job at the Action Alliance?
I am so excited to learn new ways to help those in sexual and/or domestic violence situations. It means so much to me to be able to provide the tools for them to have a choice in their next step. So many people are not able to see a choice beyond enduring the abuse and I want to give them the chance to see things differently.

maui.jpg

Dominique is a Hotline Crisis Services Specialist at the Action Alliance as well as an Intern for the Real Story journalism internship. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a B.S. in Mass Communications and a B.A. in African American Studies. She is an aspiring filmmaker and loves to create as well as watch others’ creations on the big screen.

_________________________________________________________________

Joining the Action Alliance adds your voice to making change in Virginia. Start your membership today or call 804.377.0335. 

To inquire about submissions for blog, please check the submissions page for requirements or email colson@vsdvalliance.org

Kristi visits centers across Southwest Virginia

One of the more exciting roles of the Executive Director of the Action Alliance is to visit the member sexual and domestic violence agencies. This is one important way we keep in touch with what is happening in our cause area across the Commonwealth. I decided to share my latest trip to Southwest Virginia with you.

tamywithsheltercat

Tamy with Ms. Kitty

Monday: 

It is early afternoon and I am pulling up next to a huge, red Victorian house in Covington, Virginia. Tamy Mann, Executive Director, meets me in the parking lot, and it is not too long before Miss Kitty, the “Deputy Director,” joins us. Tamy and Miss Kitty give me a tour of the playground that was recently updated by the Rotary Club and then take me over to a garage/shed that is being converted into a group room, a play space for teens, and with the help of some community grant funds, new office space to accommodate a rapidly expanding staff.

Thanks to new federal Victims Of Crime Act (VOCA) funding administered by Virginia’s Department of Criminal Justice Services money that comes from criminal fines and fees converted into vital victim services—Safehome Systems in Covington will have 24-hour staff on-site for the first time EVER. Those staff will welcome, support and counsel survivors in a warm and welcoming space thanks to Tamy and many members of the community who have worked hard over the past three years to complete major renovations to the shelter and offices and major improvements to the services offered throughout Craig and Bath counties. I spend a few hours with Tamy and her staff—and then leave them as they prepare from more interviews for nighttime and weekend staff. I head south and west…headed to Bristol on Tuesday.

A side note:  when you have been driving on country roads and have no idea where you are, but you are trusting your GPS, and then your GPS is telling you to turn on a country road that has a big, big sign that says “GPS not advisable on this route” what do you do??!

bristolfundraiser

Bristolopy

Tuesday:

Stephanie Poe, Executive Director of the Crisis Center greets me in the Center’s offices which are located firmly on the Virginia side of the VA/TN line that runs through Bristol. Stephanie heads up a small but mighty staff who are delivering a diverse set of services meeting a wide range of community needs. In addition to providing sexual violence services the agency operates a regional suicide hotline, manages a service that provides support to home-bound elderly and disabled adults, and fills community gaps for other crisis and support services, including the current support group for autism spectrum families. They do all of this with the help of a large and diverse group of volunteers and “Experience Works” employees who are all over the age of 55.

As I am leaving Stephanie shares the plans for their newest fundraiser: a new and improved version of “Bristolopoly!” As someone who LOVES Monopoly and has fond memories of weekend games that lasted for hours, this is just TOO COOL!

michelle

Michelle Hensley

Wednesday:

Two visits today!! The weather is still beautiful, and the drive from Bristol to Gate City takes me through some beautiful countryside. There are three big highlights to this leg of my journey. The first is hearing about the plans Michelle Hensley, Executive Director of Hope House, is making after receiving a significant increase in state and VOCA funding. Hope House will be expanding to add sexual violence services—for the first time ever in this part of Virginia!!! Overall the staff size will double—making it possible to add a wide range of services for children and adults and making those services available 24 hours a day. Funds will also be applied to leasing a new outreach office—and moving staff offices out of the shelter will make space for 10 additional beds, which will truly be a blessing in this community where the shelter has been full since March!

The second highlight of this trip was meeting some of the new Hope House staff—what an awesome, passionate group of advocates. And the third highlight had to be the pastries.  They have one heck of a bakery in Gate City!!

playspaceathopehouse

Hope House Play Space

2witches

Marybeth Adkins and Kristi Van Audenhove

From Gate City I traveled down the road to Norton to meet with Marybeth Adkins, Executive Director of Family Crisis Support Services (FCSS). FCSS is another agency that is providing a wide range of community services—both sexual and domestic violence services, prevention education, and homeless prevention and shelter services. Sexual and domestic violence services are also expanding in this southwest community as a result of state and federal funding increases:  FCSS will be adding children’s services and like many other agencies, the funds also made it possible to reach the level of 24/7 staffing that ensures that survivors can reach a trained advocate any time of the day or night.

I enjoyed learning about a few unique partnerships that are working well in Norton. One of those partnerships is with a local movie theater that advertises the hotline number during each movie, provides movie tickets for shelter residents, and collaborates with FCSS to make safe space available for survivors. Family Crisis Support Services was also gearing up for a fun fall fundraiser while I was there—a flag football game between the Sheriff’s office and the fire department!!

jennifer

Jennifer Bourne

Thursday: 

Thursday morning I arrive at the Clinch Valley Community Action Agency just as Jennifer Bourne, Director of Family Crisis Services, arrives for work.  She takes me on a quick tour of the shelter (a spacious and well designed space that seems to be bustling this morning!) before heading up to her office. As I sit down in Jennifer’s office I am delighted by her bulletin board—a wonderful collection of posters, flyers, bumper stickers and more that provide a visible herstory of the movement!!

Perhaps most impressive of all is a flip chart page that is posted across the room with no fewer than 25 activities that are planned for October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Family Crisis Services has a high level of commitment to educating their community –about the issues of sexual and domestic violence, about the resources that are available, and about healthy relationships.  From a Porch Light Campaign to a PJ party—there is something for everyone!!jenniferbulletinboardsmaller

The new state and VOCA funds are making it possible for Family Crisis Services to expand sexual violence prevention programming from the high school to the middle school, add the service of sheltering pets, and provide professional mental health counseling for trauma survivors who need that vital service. There will also be 4 new staff at the shelter—making 24-hour staff available for the first time!!

From Tazewell I head north and east to visit the Women’s Resource Center of the New River Valley (WRC) in Radford. It is always a pleasure to see my long-time friend Pat Brown and to hear about how programs are evolving at the Women’s Resource Center. The Women’s Resource Center is one of Virginia’s very first sexual and domestic violence agencies and has been a leader in the field since those very early days. I spend some time with Pat talking about an emerging concern of Executive Directors across the state—how to bring their agencies into compliance with the new federal overtime rules by December 1. For agencies that have relied upon advocates to work flexible hours, to be on-call on weekends and overnight, to accompany survivors to the hospital and to court and to stay with them as long as they want and need an advocate, even when that is 6, 10, 12 hours or more the new overtime rules may be very costly to implement. Directors are balancing fair labor practices, which they value highly, with strong advocacy and support for survivors, which they value highly as well!

tazewellsmallerEven in this agency with nearly 40 staff, the VOCA funds and the state funding increases are making a difference. WRC has added Justice System Navigators to work on behalf of survivors in each of the localities they serve, a campus Outreach Specialist to provide dedicated services to students, and other outreach staff who will expand the reach of the agency—including connections with the LGBTQ community.  This was a great way to wrap up my trip—a cold beverage, some yummy nachos (thank you Laura Weaver), and a sense of having come full circle.

Kristi VanAudenhove is the Executive Director of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. She has been a leader in coalition work, advocacy and policy for nearly 40 years. 

_________________________________________________________________

Joining the Action Alliance adds your voice to making change in Virginia. Start your membership today or call 804.377.0335. 

To inquire about submissions for blog, please check the submissions page for requirements or email colson@vsdvalliance.org

Meet Ki’ara Montgomery

Why do you do this Anti-Violence work?
There is so much in our society that can be changed with the help of proper education, advocacy work, and appropriate resources. Being a part of that process is an indescribable privilege.

What would you like to learn your first year on your new job? 
I would just like to be a sponge and soak in all of the information that I can.

imagesWhat is the latest book you have read and would you recommend it?
Gender, Sex, and Politics. It is a great compilation of essays that address various aspects of sex and our society. From the policing of bodies to how media effects our views of sex/sexuality, it has a lot of great opinions that can start really interesting conversations.

If you were a vegetable what would you be? Why?
I think I would compare myself to beans. They are so versatile; not only are they vegetables, but also protein and there are so many types of beans.  I like to think of myself as an open-minded person who is able to adapt to many different situations. And I have obtained many skills, experiences, and personality traits that I value.

image-1If you had one box for all your stuff, what would you put in it?
My experiences, my girlfriend (Jaz), and my laptop.

What would be the title of your autobiography?
The Discovery: The Search of Finding One’s Self

What are the 3 things you love about Virginia?

  1. The family I have here.
  2. The friends I’ve made here.
  3. And the experiences I’ve had here.

 

Lastly, what excites you most about your new job at the Action Alliance? 
I’m excited to be able to have the opportunity to help. Everyday I step into the office, I know I’m going in with a purpose. Even if not directly, what I do in that office will somehow be beneficial to someone.

Ki’ara Montgomery is a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University with plans to graduate in May 2017. She is obtaining a bachelor’s degree in public relations, and minors in business and gender, sexuality, and women’s studies. While in school, she has had opportunities with VCU AmeriCorps, Culture4MyKids, VCU School of Education, and the Richmond Raiders. She is currently interning with the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance with focuses in development, policy, and communication.

_________________________________________________________________

Joining the Action Alliance adds your voice to making change in Virginia. Start your membership today or call.

To inquire about submissions for blog, please check the submissions page for requirements or email colson@vsdvalliance.org

Statewide Hotline Launch

Sexual and intimate partner violence are serious public health and safety issues. While huge strides have been made in our response to sexual and intimate partner violence in the past 30 years, many victims suffered decades of silence, fear, and isolation in a society that failed to acknowledge the seriousness of violence against women. With limited social support and little resources, survivors had few options for safety and support. Confidentiality and privacy are an essential element to providing safety and respectful advocacy services. Rape crisis and domestic violence hotlines quickly became a vital, confidential resource for survivors to share their stories, seek help, and organize for change. Hotlines continue to be a vital service for breaking through the silence and isolation and connecting individuals to resources and essential services.

We are celebrating the re-branding and expansion of our Statewide Hotline. The Statewide Hotline provides direct access 24/7/365 to experts with specialized training in sexual and domestic violence who provide lifesaving, trauma-informed services and practical tools for safety and healing.

image004

Within our Statewide Hotline, we host the LGBTQ Helpline in collaboration with the Virginia Anti-Violence Project, the PREA hotline in collaboration with the Department of Corrections, and serve our 64 member Rape Crisis Centers and Domestic Violence Shelters to host or back up their hotlines.

Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline – 1 (800) 838-8238 | 24/7
Confidential chat  … Text (804) 793-9999
LGBTQ+ Partner Abuse & Sexual Assault Helpline – 1 (866) 356-6998

_________________________________________________________________

Joining the Action Alliance adds your voice to making change in Virginia. Start your membership today or call.

To inquire about submissions for blog, please check the submissions page for requirements or email colson@vsdvalliance.org

 

Meet Cortney Calixte

Why do you do this Anti-Violence work?
For some reason Anti-Violence work has appeared in my life over the years in one way or the other and no matter what my other interest may be, I find myself in the same place. So, I think there is a reason for being here and I am going to take in as much knowledge I can and hopefully I can help something or someone in the process of figuring it out.

What would you like to learn your first year on your new job?
I want to be a sponge and I want to be able to provide the necessary services to the places that need them.

What is the latest book you’ve read and would you recommend it?
Dreams of my Father– Barack Obama. I related to Barack’s struggle to be his authentic self in a position and in a society where being black can cause you to have more than one identity because you are in fear that your authentic self is not a safe space.

 

Describe the magazines on your coffee table?
I would normally have random knowledge books on my coffee table. Books that tell you why ancient society’s made batteries out of clay pots. Random information and conversation starters.

If you had one box for all your stuff, what would you put in it?
My whole life and all of my experiences. You didn’t say how big or small the box could be.

 

 

What would be the title of your autobiography?

“I don’t know how I got here but I’m going to make the most of it: A guide to learning when you are lost.”

What is the most incredible view you have ever seen?
Whatever I am looking at when I wake up.  No amount of anything can explain that.

Lastly, what excites you most about your new job at the Action Alliance? 
The opportunity to be a part of an organization that sees the need for a better life and a safe life for people facing violence.

Cortney Calixte is an intern at the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence. She is working toward her Master’s in Social Work at Virginia Commonwealth University. 

_________________________________________________________________

Joining the Action Alliance adds your voice to making change in Virginia. Start your membership today or call.

To inquire about submissions for blog, please check the submissions page for requirements or email colson@vsdvalliance.org

 

 

Meet Trisha Smith

Why do you do this Anti-Violence work?
My involvement with anti-violence work falls under special interests I have related to trauma, grief, psychological adjustment, and brain injury as a result of physical violence. I am particularly interested in the process that transforms individuals into reaching their optimal potential and high levels of well-being.

What would you like to learn your first year on your new job? 
I would love to expand my knowledge on the diverse set of issues faced by survivors of violence as well as to further develop my lens of empathetic understanding and ways of expressing it through counseling techniques.

What is the latest book you’ve read and would you recommend it?
I have only just started reading; The Brain That Changes Itself. It is a very interesting read so far, and it is brain-related so of course I would recommend it!

images (4).jpgIf you were a vegetable what would you be? Why?
I would be a tomato, because there is an idea of ambiguity often tied to it: is it a fruit or a vegetable? Toe-may-toe or ta-ma-toe? It connects to my liking of abstract ideas and belief that no absolute truth exists.

What are the 3 things you love about Virginia?

  • Northern Virginia area,
  • scenery in the Shenandoah Valley (e.g. Skyline Drive), and
  • Richmond.

If you had one box for all your stuff, what would you put in it?
Pictures of my girlfriend (Chelsea) and dog (Bentley), headphones, and my laptop.

What is the most incredible view you’ve ever seen?
Beaches of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Lastly, what excites you most about your new job at the Action Alliance? 
Working as a part of the hotline team, I am looking forward to “holding space” for callers and equipping them with resources and tools. I am also looking forward to ways in which I might be of value in expanding hotline services in the future. In terms of the Action Alliance as a whole, I am excited to explore the different caucuses that exist as well as engage in discussions with coworkers related to intersectionality, oppression, and anti-violence.

Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline – 1 (800) 838-8238 | 24/7
Confidential chat  … Text (804) 793-9999
LGBTQ+ Partner Abuse & Sexual Assault Helpline – 1 (866) 356-6998

Trisha is a crisis hotline specialist with the Action Alliance. Trisha uses the pronouns she/her/they. She is currently a second-year student in the Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling Master’s program at VCU and hopes to someday become a Licensed Professional Counselor. Trisha is completing an internship with the Department of Counseling at Safe Harbor, in addition to an with the Brain Injury Association of Virginia. 

_________________________________________________________________

Joining the Action Alliance adds your voice to making change in Virginia. Start your membership today or call.

To inquire about submissions for blog, please check the submissions page for requirements or email colson@vsdvalliance.org

Meet Rachael Kaufman 

Why do you do this Anti-Violence work?  
I think that anyone who experiences a violent crime (whether sexual, emotional or physical) deserves to be believed and supported. I want to be part of the movement that is advocating for survivors of specifically sexual and domestic violence to be heard and supported by their friends, families, communities, and institutions with which they interact following their experience.

What would you like to learn your first year on your new job? 
I want to learn anything and everything from my peers and supervisors who have been doing this work for much longer than I have. I am specifically interested in learning more about the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) hotline and the LGBTQ+ Helpline, as I am less familiar working with those populations.

If you had one box for all your stuff, what would you put in it? 
I would put in a few favorite books, my hammock, and all my camping gear just in case of the next apocalypse.

Rachael_kneedeepinmud

What is the latest book you have read and would you recommend it? 
The last book I read is called the Vegetarian by Han Kang, which is about a Korean woman who wakes up one day after a nightmare and decides to be a vegetarian. Subsequently, she suffers persecution from her family, doctors, and society at large. I would recommend this book because I literally had no idea what was going on the whole time I was reading the novel; however, after lots of thinking and googling, I began to understand the narrative’s complex critique on bodily autonomy, cultural norms, and vegetarianism. It is a fascinating, exciting, and short read that will definitely keep you guessing. TW: sexual/domestic violence

If you were a vegetable what would you be? Why? 
I would be spaghetti squash because it is super fascinating and cool because it looks just like a regular squash but then it produces great faux-noodles. I would love to aspire to be a fascinating and cool person, and like the spaghetti squash, I have some hidden talents.

What are the 3 things you love about Virginia? 
I love, in no particular order…

  • the incredible views of the Shenandoah Valley,
  • all the murals throughout Richmond, and
  • the colonial reenactors at the WAWA in Williamsburg

What is the most incredible view you have ever seen? 
The best view I have ever seen is when I was backpacking in Australia. During our final day of our 30 day excursion, we climbed up a huge plateau where we had an expansive view of the entire Kimberley region which is almost completely uninhabited. There are rolling grasslands and I could see crazy Australian wildlife like kangaroos hopping around. As an added bonus, there was a huge waterfall at the top which housed awesome swimming holes that were super cold despite the 100+ degree heat.

Lastly, what excites you most about your new job at the Action Alliance? 
I am so excited to be a part of an organization that holistically addresses the issue of domestic and sexual violence in Virginia. I am so excited to learn more about the Action Alliance’s training and advocacy opportunities, while also being able to do direct service on the hotline.

 

Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline – 1 (800) 838-8238 | 24/7
Confidential chat  … Text (804) 793-9999
LGBTQ+ Partner Abuse & Sexual Assault Helpline – 1 (866) 356-6998

Rachael is a student at VCU working on her Master in Social Work, hoping to ultimately find a career working with college students on preventing and addressing the issue of sexual violence of their campuses. During her undergraduate time at William and Mary, Rachael studied Anthropology, which was an incredibly fun, although not the most practical, major. She was able to complete a honors thesis for her major about discourse surrounding sexual violence, analyzing how language about sexual violence affected the attitudes and behaviors of students and staff on campus. In her free time, Rachael loves to color in her adult coloring book while watching the newest Netflix show she has found. She is also an outdoor and travel enthusiast, having been to 6 out of the 7 continents for different outdoor adventures. She is still hoping to check off Antarctica one day! 

_________________________________________________________________

Joining the Action Alliance adds your voice to making change in Virginia. Start your membership today or call 804.377.0335. 

To inquire about submissions for blog, please check the submissions page for requirements or email colson@vsdvalliance.org