On March 16, 2020, the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) unveiled its new name and brand: ValorUS (VALOR).
VALOR hosted two virtual events (one in English, one in Spanish,) and both with ASL interpretation and captioning) to announce and celebrate the change. The events featured moving testimonials from staff, coalition members, partners, and allies who walked audiences through our new brand’s look, feel, and vision. Event participants from across the U.S. and California were encouraged to share their thoughts and reactions using various social media platforms and the hashtag, #WeAreVALOR.
As a national organization, we are committed to advancing equity and ending sexual violence. A day that was years in the making, VALOR’s CEO, Sandra Henriquez, stated, “All of us are part of the solution, and we all need to find that valor and that courage that is so essential to creating a world free from violence.”
Our journey tells the story of the transition to our new name. Originally known as the California State Coalition of Rape Crisis Centers, VALOR was founded in 1980 with the purpose of igniting the collective power of grassroots activists and survivors of sexual violence across California. At the time, the issues of rape and sexual abuse received little public attention, and the rape crisis centers that organized themselves to serve their communities were entirely volunteer-run.
As more and more people became aware of the prevalence of sexual violence and the social inequities that perpetuate it, policymakers began to take notice, and finally act. This resulted in the passage of the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994, and the critical expansion of government funding for programs working to end gender-based violence across the nation.
At the turn of the millennium, we moved from Oakland to Sacramento and became the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) – a powerful voice for the state’s critical safety net protecting survivors, and providing leadership, vision, and resources to anyone dedicated to ending sexual assault.
CALCASA grew to be a force across California and expanded to provide national leadership in the movement to prevent and end sexual violence. CALCASA was instrumental in the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence and provided training and technical assistance nationally through the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) programs focused on college campuses, the disability community, ending tech abuse, and training women of color to lead the movement (LEAP [Leadership Education and Advancement for Professionals]). In 2004, CALCASA established PreventConnect, the largest online community in the U.S. dedicated to advancing the prevention of sexual violence and domestic violence. CALCASA also partnered with other national leaders to co-host the National Sexual Assault Conference, the largest professional conference in the U.S., and RALIANCE, which works with a wide range of organizations to improve their cultures and create environments free from sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse.
We continued to grow, and with it, our resolve to advocate on behalf of marginalized people everywhere and ultimately, to change society. In late 2017, the “me too” movement gained widespread recognition, and the need to change schools, workplaces, institutions, and society to uproot a culture of sexual violence had never been more urgent.
Then, in 2020, amidst the global public health crisis of COVID-19 that upended life across the world, the time was right to fully embrace the next generation of our work, together with a bold new identity that matched our bold vision for transforming society.
Our name, VALOR, is inspired by the courage and resilience of survivors of sexual assault and asserts the forward-thinking attitude that defines our diverse and dynamic movement. In this new era we build on our history and fearlessly embark on a new, but familiar, journey of advancing equity and ending sexual violence.
Our name, ValorUS, epitomizes the strength and courage of the movement to end sexual violence. We are bold, we are fearless, We are VALOR.
What does VALOR mean to you? Please share your thoughts, experiences, and stories with us using the hashtag, #WeAreVALOR #SomosVALOR
Read the full press release HERE