Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM)… what is it all about? It is about facing tragedy and seizing hope! It’s about a group of human beings taking collective action to make a difference in our world! As I contemplated what to say in this note – I could not help but think about tragedy, hope and power, three concepts that may not seem connected, but in the fight to end sexual violence they are absolutely connected.
Music is one of the ways I cope with my life. I run faster when I’m listening to music, I clean more thoroughly with music in the background, and I drive better when there’s music on the radio – I also like to listen to music when I’m reading! Playing the piano has often been a way that I work through challenging situations, just losing myself with the sound, the ability to make the music express what is going on in my life, head and heart. My favorite “new” song is “Fight Song,” by Rachel Platten. The lyrics are simple and yet profound, and the music makes me feel the power she must have been reaching for when she wrote the song. In reading her website, she says that the song came from her search to connect with herself in a very difficult time in her career. What has happened since the song was released is that people all over the world have made the song their personal anthem. They are sending her their stories of pain, trouble, difficulty and challenge and sharing with her how the song has given them the inspiration to “take back their life!”
Coming to work for the YWCA as the healingSPACE Program Manager was the next “right” step for me. Following a 24 year Army career, where I worked as an Engineer with two psychology degrees, it was time for me to “take back my life!” It was a great journey, I learned so much about leading and following in that time. One of things I learned by trial and error was the absolute necessity to be authentic, and to be comfortable in the ways in which my leadership might be different as a woman. Very early in my career, I decided that I was never going to allow my gender to be an issue. I learned that it would be for other people, but I purposed to work, live and lead with passion, purpose, heart and a strong moral compass. Rachel’s song speaks to me on several levels, but specifically about how appropriate the timing of this transition is for me personally and professionally. At this time in my life, being part of the amazing work going on at YWCA Bergen County’s healingSPACE is the place I was meant to be. HealingSPACE supports survivors, provides preventative education in schools around Bergen County, and has a highly qualified and committed group of volunteers ready to provide immediate assistance to those dealing with the issue of sexual violence. I could not be more ready to be involved in the effort to end sexual violence in our society, and it is time!
During Sexual Assault Awareness Month, healingSPACE displayed our Clothesline Project at various colleges, high schools and community locations raising awareness around the issue of sexual violence. Thanks to the incredible ingenuity of Mr. Chris Gluchoski, this innovative display has become a Traveling Clothesline Project. This Thursday, April 23rd, we’re partnering with Panico Salon at all three of their New Jersey locations for their 8th annual Denim Day fundraiser! From 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m, Panico’s dedicated staff will be collecting donations to support our healingSPACE. Stay tuned for more great events in our community that will hone in on our Prevention message that everyone regardless of age can make a difference in our world by partnering to eliminate the scourge of sexual violence. May the words of my new favorite song, inspire you all in your personal quest to live out loud and take your life back – whatever that means for you personally! Click here to get your own “dose” of Rachel’s powerful song!
healingSPACE provides a confidential 24/7 hotline to survivors, their families and friends, or anyone with concerns about any form of sexual violence. Support is available to those who have experienced any type of sexual violence, whether recently or years ago. Confidential Sexual Violence Advocates are available to provide short term crisis intervention counseling, information, referrals and accompaniments to medical and legal proceedings. In addition, the center provides long-term individual, group, or family counseling for survivors and their loved ones. Both our women’s group and men’s group are free of charge and our long-term counseling is offered at a small fee for individuals age 13 and older.
In Bergen County, healingSPACE is the only program of its kind. You can help support this local resource by becoming a volunteer, inviting healingSPACE to speak at your business or organization, and donating to our vital program. Believing and supporting the survivors of sexual violence and their families is crucial in the advocacy and observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. For further information, please visit to our healingSPACE page or contact us at 201-881-1750.