The easiest way to promote change is to speak up. So many historical movements started out with someone saying, “Wait. This is not okay.”
–Mary Helen Cagle
1. What is your relationship with STAR?
MC: I’m an advocacy Intern at STAR. I work as a crisis line and hospital advocate and complete various educational projects through my internship curriculum. My curriculum includes different assignments related to sexual violence like creating a resource guide and writing an article for the STAR blog. I also collaborate with the other advocacy interns for some of my assignments.
2. What led you to get involved with STAR and/or join the movement to end sexual violence?
MC: Throughout my freshman year at LSU, I was exposed to rape culture on campus. I attended three parties where “No = yes and yes = anal” was written on the wall; I often heard that I couldn’t take a joke and needed to calm down. I wanted to be taken seriously, and I wanted something to change. A friend told me about STAR, and I applied for an internship immediately. I know I have so much more to learn, but I am so relieved that I found a community of people dedicated to ending sexual violence.
MC: It’s most rewarding to successfully help a survivor through a crisis or provide someone with resources to overcome trauma. Helping a survivor throughout the healing process is the most fulfilling part of my job. Every person deals with trauma differently, and every experience with a survivor is both challenging and endlessly rewarding. It’s satisfying to know that as an advocate, I’m trained to make sure a survivor has a positive experience while recovering from trauma.
4. What motivates you to keep going when things get difficult or discouraging?
MC: I’m constantly motivated by my dream of a better world for my younger siblings and my future children. The idea has become my driving force. It’s very easy to stay invested in a job where one of your long-term goals is simply making the world a better place. I love knowing that I’m not just answering phones in an office—I’m doing my part in the movement to end sexual violence.
5. What are some simple, day-to-day ways you promote positive change in our community?
MC: The easiest way to promote change is to speak up. So many historical movements started out with someone saying, “Wait. This is not okay.” I had to overcome my fears of being too aggressive or seeming like a know-it-all. I now know that though my thoughts may be unpopular, they are valid. By speaking up, you have the ability to break the silence and empower survivors to speak up as well.
6. What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant about becoming an active member of this movement?
MC: I was also hesitant, but I hope to encourage everyone to do some research or check out some of the information available from STAR. Check out our social media pages to really get an idea of our services and our mission. Sexual violence impacts everyone, so everyone has a place in our fight to end sexual trauma.