Tomorrow is my last day as a Training and Technical Assistance Specialist at CALCASA. For the past two years, it has been a joy and honor to serve in the movement to end sexual violence as part of the CALCASA team. As many of you know, I began my work in this movement at UC San Diego as an “It’s on Us” activist and campus sexual violence researcher. The time has come for me to me to return to the San Diego sunshine. I have accepted a position as a Research Manager at the Center on Gender Equity and Health (GEH) in UC San Diego’s School of Medicine, where I will once again focus on sexual violence on college campuses.
During my time at CALCASA, I had the opportunity to affect Policy change, contribute to the development of the document that will guide sexual health education across the state, and behold a learning community of brilliant preventionists. For me, this moment is as bitter as it is sweet; I couldn’t be more proud of the impact that California preventionists have made, but I’m also thrilled with this new opportunity to “create good” in the world.
I’ve been struggling to wrap my head around the impact that being a prevention-focused TA has had upon me. So in true TA fashion, I am reflecting on this educational experience using a framework of analysis from my favorite training activity, “Square, Triangle, Circle.” Using the three questions from that activity (pictured), here’s what I’ve come up with:
What squared with your values?
Violence is learned and violence can be unlearned. Culture has changed and culture must continue to change. We must never accept violence as normal, and the moment we do, we too are perpetuating violence. As we can all cause harm, we are all responsible to continuously challenge ourselves to be better.
What point(s) stuck with you?
I am in awe of the strength and resilience of the fire-filled people who make up this movement.
In August, I had the opportunity to deliver opening remarks at the National Sexual Assault Conference (NSAC) Plenary Session. Something I’d like to reiterate from that speech:
I stand before you as a researcher, activist, coalition staff member, but first and foremost, a survivor of sexual abuse. And as a survivor looking into the faces of 1,900 people who give so much of themselves to do this work, I’m overwhelmed. Thank you for fighting for us, the survivors. Thank you for your optimism, and believing that what happened to us is not normal or acceptable, and in the face of that ugliness, believing that the world can change. Thank you for your sacrifices. You are heroes. From the depths of my heart, thank you for what you do.
What questions are still circling in your mind?
How do we assert our boundaries without losing our empathy?
How can we address harm without taking on that harm ourselves?
How can I remember the wisdom of my youthful boldness, while growing into the grace of a seasoned preventionist and researcher?
Especially in this difficult work, how can we put aside our egos, but cherish our self-worth?
My heart is lifted to know that my path will cross with many of yours again as we continue our work to end all forms of violence and oppression. I’d like to share this bit of my Hawaiian heritage with you who have shared so much with me: a hui hou kakou, which means, “until we meet again.”
With aloha and gratitude,