October Volunteer of the Month

 

MESA is pleased to spotlight Holly as our August Volunteer of the Month. Holly is an invaluable part of our volunteer team. Holly has always been such a willing volunteer and makes every effort to participate in everything we do. Thank you, Holly, for your dedication to MESA and our community!

Let’s hear from Holly!

  1. What do you enjoy most about volunteering with MESA?
    I love the community that we have. Everyone is so caring and supportive that I know if I ever had an issue I could go to anyone and instantly feel better.
  2. How long have you been with MESA?
    About 6 or 7 months now!
  3. What’s your personal theme song?
    I would have to say “Flawless” by Beyonce. I think it gives a lot of empowerment to women which I try to do every day and come on, we’re all flawless!
  4. What is your biggest accomplishment to date?
    I would say everything that MESA has given me. Signing up to be a volunteer and now being an intern and Super Group Leader. I love all the responsibilities I have and am very proud of the work that I do.
  5. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
    I would want to heal. This is the work that I try to do daily, but it is usually automatic. Although pain is important to grow, there are many things I wish I could heal immediately.
  6. Who is your role model?
    My grandmother is my biggest role model. She raised me to be the person I am and has overcome more than I could imagine.

Interested in becoming a MESA volunteer? Apply today!

“What Do You Do?”

“So what do you do?” This seems like a straightforward, get-to-know you question that ideally leads to further conversation, and has even been recommended as a networking strategy because follow-up questions along this line give the other person the opportunity to elaborate on their strengths, skills and passion for their work. I try to avoid this question because my strengths, skills and passion are more likely to shut down the conversation in most social settings. I have been in the anti-sexual violence field for over a decade, and have yet to figure out how to work this topic smoothly into conversation at any given dinner party, much less as part of small talk while waiting at the check-out counter. I usually hem and haw at first, hoping people will accept my vague references to social work and move on. When they ask for, and I share, more details, I usually run into one of three standard responses:

“Wow, that’s such difficult work! I could never do that.” Yes, this work can be emotionally taxing, but because this work also plays to my aforementioned strengths, skills and passions, it is usually not overwhelming for me (if I keep up with my resilience strategies and support networks). I love it. “Hard work” means something entirely different to me than what I do on a daily basis.  I have yet to discover the perfect response to such statements, so I usually mention something about how amazing all the people are that choose to do this work and how much I learn every day.

“……” or “Well that’s nice. Have you heard about…” This response both easier and harder to handle. It’s easier because people tend to quickly change topics when they feel uncomfortable, and I am relieved of the responsibility to dismantle rape myths, victim blaming, and systems of oppression during the conversation. It is harder because then I am left knowing that I could have done more to make people aware of the issue. Their discomfort makes me uncomfortable and sometimes I take the easy way out because social norms call for it, and this cultural conditioning is tremendously difficult to overcome.

“That happened to me.” Whether I am the first person somebody has ever told or the thousandth, by stating my profession I also declare my identity as a supporter, advocate, ally and safe person. Visibility is important, and by making public this piece of my life, I tell everyone around me that I am available to talk about this taboo subject. All of us have the responsibility to help each other, and these responses are moments when I can set an example for sharing compassion.

While the first two responses are problematic because they dance around the issue of sexual violence without actually addressing it, they stand in contrast to the third response which is asking for validation and recognition. The first two tend to avoid the topic, while the third centers the conversation around it. It seems to me that these are also the default responses at the societal level. Until we can accept the uncomfortable reality that some people do bad things to other people who then must struggle through negative outcomes, we will continue to gloss over the issue of sexual violence and move on to more palatable topics, leaving survivors to find their own path forward with minimal support (if any).

The one exception to that is when I have a dinner party with the amazing people who have chosen to do this work. We share a similar perspective, understanding, and language for discussing sexual violence and these conversations come as naturally to me as any “regular” conversation I might have in my daily life. I feel invigorated and inspired despite overwhelming obstacles, and hopeful that societal conversations will change. Maybe all my dinner party conversations will feel that way one day.

 

Natalie Ziemba is the Hotline Supervisor with MESA, and originally started as a MESA volunteer. She enjoys reading, baking, and nuanced discussions of social justice issues.

Fall 2017 Primary Group

Survivor’s Support GroupSurvivor's Support Group

  • A warm, safe, private setting with 3-6 members
  • Understanding on how trauma has affected you
  • Tools to help you manage difficult thoughts and feelings
  • A chance to share support with other survivors

 

 

Who it helps: This group is for primary survivors of sexual trauma
When: Tuesdays from 6:00-7:30pm starting October 3rd (8 weeks, no group on Halloween)
Where: Ryan Wellness Center, Flatiron room (1000 Alpine Avenue, Boulder, CO 80304)
Facilitator: Taylor Millard, MSW
Suggested donation: $10 per session
For questions, contact Natalie at 303-443-0400; groups@movingtoendsexualassault.org

Register

 

 

Ending Racism is Necessary to End Sexual Violence

The work of ending sexual violence is fundamentally connected to the work of ending racism because both share the same foundation: privilege and oppression. Before digging into this topic a bit deeper, it might be helpful to define these terms first.

  • Privilege – a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantage of most
  • Oppression – the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner

Privilege consists of all the unearned ways that make day-to-day life a bit easier for certain people. It is experienced both at the individual level as well as the systemic level. At the individual level, that may look like the number of books in the residence (house, apartment, shelter, etc.) in which you grew up. At the systemic level, it may be the school district you enter as a child and whether they have programs to provide breakfast in addition to lunch, resources to teach you in your first language, restrooms designated for your gender, and teachers and curricula that reflect your cultural background, in addition to high-quality and accessible extracurricular activities. (I’ll give you a hint: the more those examples applied to you, the more privilege you have).

Oppression exists both in the broad systems and structures of a society such as culture and laws, as well as the individual interactions among people within the same society. These disparities show up in everything from wage and leadership gaps in the paid workforce, to the less tangible and more pervasive attitudes that perpetuate harassment in the workplace and  on the streets. Oppression conveys the notion of which people, bodies and identities have value, and how much value they do or do not have.

So how do anti-sexual violence issues and anti-racism issues overlap? That depends on how you look at these issues. If you look at the issue of rape only through the lens of racism, it may not seem obvious. Racism deals with the color of skin, whereas rape deals with unwanted sexual activity. Layering these lenses broadens our understanding and helps build connections. Both rape and racism are products of our cultural and social history as a country founded on colonialism, slavery, and entitlement. As just one example, slaves were regularly raped and abused in addition to being legally defined as property instead of people, and countless lynchings occurred due to unfounded or downright false allegations of Black men raping white women. Racism and sexual violence have always been intertwined and continue to be so, as seen by higher rates of sexual violence committed against people of color.

Approaching social justice problems as a single-issue problem does not work. At best, a single-issue approach divides the resources, people, and energy striving to create a better future. At worst, it is complicit in the violence and destruction by sowing silence because there is no perceived overlap between “their problem” and “our problem.” It’s on us to be the voice, energy and vision creating a better future in which the intersection of all types of oppression and all types of violence are called out, held accountable, and addressed.

Whether the violence impacts you directly or indirectly, it is important to maintain awareness of the harm done and work to counter the negative impact. This is especially important if the violence impacts you indirectly (I’m looking at us, white allies!). Whereas those directly impacted by the violence have already expended enormous emotional energy toward anger and grief, those who are indirectly impacted have less to lose and more energy to spend on the emotional labor of calling out oppression, raising awareness, and holding people accountable. Moreover, white people are likely safer when taking such actions, and may be more listened to by people in positions of power.

Whether your social justice work focuses on racism or rape, take a moment to think about how one impacts the other. Take another moment to think about how it impacts all other forms of oppression. All social injustice is connected by the underlying oppression that leads to unequal distribution of power and resources, and pits identity groups against each other. We must work together to move forward together, all of us.

Natalie Ziemba is the Hotline Supervisor with MESA, and originally started as a MESA volunteer. She enjoys reading, baking, and nuanced discussions of social justice issues.

Fall Yoga Dates Announced!

Trauma-Informed Yoga

This trauma-informed yoga group is a confidential and safe space to get in touch with your own body, engage the parasympathetic nervous system in healing, synchronize breath and body, and release body tension and stress.

Who it helps: Designed for those affected by trauma of any kind. For all level practitioners and even non-practitioners.
When: Wednesdays from 5:30-6:45 October 6 – December 4 (10 weeks)
Where: Integral Center, 2805 Broadway Ave, Suite B, Boulder 80304
Facilitator: Megan Connolly
Investment:  $150 per 10- week series ($15/session). Victim compensation accepted as payment form.
For questions, contact Natalie at 303-443-0400 or groups@movingtoendsexualassault.org

 

 

 

Mindfulness Workshop September 9th

Workshop: Changing Your Brain

In this full-day workshop, participants will: learn the science behind anxiety and practice relaxation; practice techniques to build new neuroscience-pathways that change the way you think; discover how to shift your mood and feel more comfortable; increase your awareness of your physiological responses to stress.

This is the second module of a 3-part series. Participation in module I is not necessary to participate in module 2.

Who it helps: Designed for anyone who wants to learn more about healing and recovery after trauma
When: Saturday September 9, 9:30am-3:30pm
Where: MESA – 1333 Iris Avenue, Boulder, CO 80304 (Norton East room)
Facilitator: Tami Boehle-Satterfield, MSW, LCSW-C, NCBCHH, HTP
Investment: $50
For questions: Contact Natalie at 303-443-0400; groups@movingtoendsexualassault.org.

Register

 

 

August Volunteer of the Month

MESA is pleased to spotlight Katie as our August Volunteer of the Month. Katie is an invaluable part of our volunteer team. Katie has always been such a willing volunteer and makes every effort to participate in everything we do. Thank you, Katie, for your dedication to MESA and our community!

Let’s hear from Katie!

  1. What do you enjoy most about volunteering with MESA?
    I enjoy believing and supporting survivors in our community who are too frequently disbelieved and re-victimized by society. I also enjoy empathizing with and aiding secondary survivors, or those who are supporting survivors they know personally
  2. How long have you been with MESA?
    I worked with MESA and SPAN’s joint partnership Peers Building Justice for two years while in high school, and have been on the hotline since fall of 2011.
  3. What was the last book you read?
    Believer by David Axelrod.
  4. What is your biggest accomplishment to date?
    I was the deputy finance director for a 2014 Secretary of State campaign that fundraised a record-breaking amount for that office.
  5. What three items would you take with you to a deserted island?
    Water, a phone, and a boat.
  6. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
    I would have Sherlock-like powers of deduction so I could solve crimes and entertain people at dinner parties.

Interested in becoming a MESA volunteer? Apply today!

July 2017 Volunteer of the Month

MESA is pleased to spotlight Lizzie as our July Volunteer of the Month. Lizzie is an invaluable part of our volunteer team. Lizzie has always been such a willing volunteer and makes every effort to participate in everything we do. Thank you, Lizzie, for your dedication to MESA and our community!

Let’s hear from Lizzie!

  1. What do you enjoy most about volunteering with MESA?
    I feel like we’re living in such turbulent times that it’s easy for me to get overwhelmed and begin to feel powerless. I wanted to give back to my community and put some love into the world. I’m a survivor myself and this work gives my pain a purpose; I appreciate being able to use my experiences to help others feel more supported and less alone.
  2. How long have you been with MESA?
    I graduated from the training program last Fall [2016].
  3. How do you usually spend your Saturdays?
    I like playing outside! I’m a big fan of tent camping, kayaking and canoeing (it’s the Minnesota in me). Taking my dirt bike into the mountains is great self-care for me. I really enjoy relaxing with close friends over bluegrass, beer and games. And taking naps snuggled up with my cat.
  4. What is your biggest accomplishment to date?
    Simply getting to this point in my life. 🙂 I’ve had my fair share of pretty tough curve balls thrown at me and I think I’ve been able to stay positive, focus on the learning opportunities and not lose hope. I’ve worked really hard to keep my sense of humor and integrity intact.
  5. What is your favorite joke?
    What time does Sean Connery get to Wimbledon? Tennish.
  6. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
    The ability to turn water into really, really, really good coffee.

Interested in becoming a MESA volunteer? Apply today!

Neurobiology workshop August 3rd

Workshop: Neurobiology of Trauma and Implications for Healing

This presentation will be a combination of lecture and audience participation on the topic of trauma and its psychobiological effects. The presentation will explore the nature of traumatic events and the difference between normal, situational, and traumatic stress. Next, physiological components of trauma will be introduced including brain structures, dissociation, hypervigilance and flashbacks. Traditional and non-traditional approaches to treatment will be explored.

Who it helps: Designed for anyone who wants to learn more about the impact of trauma
When: Thursday August 3rd, 6:30-8pm
Where: Ryan Wellness Center, 1000 Alpine Avenue, Boulder, CO 80304 (in the Colorado Rooms on the second floor of the building)
Facilitator: Dr. Janine D’Anniballe
Suggested donation: $10
For questions: Contact Natalie at 303-443-0400; groups@movingtoendsexualassault.org.

Register

 

 

Primary Survivors Support Group Summer 2017

Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA) is now offering a support group for primary survivors of sexual assault. This group offers a space for 3-6 members who meet weekly, facilitated by a Licensed Professional Counselor who specializes in trauma therapy. The group will focus on psycho-education around the effects of trauma, coping skills, a sense of safe community to talk about struggles and successes you may be having, and flexibility to address group-specific needs as they arise.

Who it helps: This group is for female-identified primary survivors of sexual trauma
When: Thursdays from 4:30-6pm starting July 20th, 2017 (8 weeks)
Where: Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA) – 1333 Iris Avenue, Boulder, CO 80304
Facilitator: Christine Springer, LPC
Suggested donation: $5-10 per session

For questions, contact Natalie at 303-443-0440, groups@movingtoendsexualassault.org

Register here!