Agents of Change: Courtney Brandabur

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There are many people in our community working to create positive change to end sexual violence. We want to meet as many of them as possible. If you would like to submit a recommendation, please email prevention@star.ngo.


 

This work is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life! That being said, it’s the most fulfilling and enriching work I’ve ever engaged in.  

-Courtney Brandabur 

1. What is your position at STAR?Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

CB: I’m currently a Resource Advocate in the Baton Rouge office, but I’m transferring in March to be a Resource Advocate in our New Orleans office. An advocate can offer a wide variety of services to survivors. I typically think about the work as having two categories: services outside of the office and services inside the office. Services outside of the office would include hospital advocacy, law enforcement interview accompaniment, and court accompaniment. Services in the office involve answering crisis calls, connecting survivors to organizations that fulfill basic needs, researching to continually improve services, case management, and communicating with response systems on behalf of survivors upon request.

2. How did you come to work at STAR and/or in the field of sexual assault prevention/response?

CB: I’ve always been passionate about public health, women’s issues, and social justice. While I was an undergraduate student, I would often see STAR tabling at student outreach events on LSU campus. I first became interested in STAR after attending a Darkness to Light workshop on preventing child sexual abuse, that Rebecca Marchiafava happened to be facilitating. In 2014, I applied to be a summer intern in the Prevention program (now called Social Change), directed by Rebecca, and loved it. The Prevention Action Coalition started shortly after my internship ended, so I joined in order to stay involved with STAR. Luckily, when I graduated in July 2015, STAR had an open position in Advocacy. As you may have guessed, I applied and got the job!

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3. What do you find most rewarding about your work at STAR?

CB: I’d love to tell you that I whisk myself out of bed with a teal cape and a smile on my face every morning, but the reality is that the work is hard and I don’t own a teal cape…yet. This work is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life! That being said, it’s the most fulfilling and enriching work I’ve ever engaged in. I witness incredible acts of strength and resilience by working directly with survivors. The other day, a survivor was recounting all of the work she’d done along her journey to healing and she told me, “I’ve been a miracle to myself.” Now, that’s empowerment! The victories may be few and far between sometimes, but they are the bits of hope that light the way in this work.

4. What motivates you to keep going when things get difficult or discouraging?

CB: You can’t serve from an empty vessel. There will be natural dips and highs of motivation, but a sudden loss of motivation signals that I need to fill up that vessel again. Since personal development is my game, I’m often exploring new ways to motivate myself. I work with amazing people so it isn’t hard to look outward and be inspired. Inwardly, I remind myself why I do the work and try to be accountable for my own self-care.

Physical space is important for me. I recommend you fill up your work space with reminders of your authentic self! In my office, you’ll find pictures of my loved ones, gifts from friends, and sweet post-it notes. I surround myself with positive messages and images in my work space to bring me back to the joy of the world. But, you’ll also find a picture of Bruce Lee from Enter The Dragon to remind me to be tough when I need to be.

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Don’t forget about digital space either! “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” This quote by Victor Frankl is on a word document titled “Quotes for Hard Days” on my computer desktop. I read it when I need to.

5. What are some simple, day-to-day ways you promote positive change in our community, outside of your work duties?

CB: I try to love myself and others in healthy ways. This work has taught me to draw back from my own personal relationships and reflect on how I behave in them. I can’t be perfect, but I can be accountable for my imperfections. People around me tell me that they love my positivity. I’m an avid giver of compliments and positive affirmations. When I admire someone for something, I’m not shy about telling them in long-winded flowery statements. Hopefully these expressions are useful in promoting positive change, even on a small-scale!

6. What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant about becoming an active member of the movement to end sexual trauma?

CB: There’s this Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetmisconception that only a specific type of person can do this work. I get it. I bought into that belief before getting involved in direct services. I had this idea that people involved in this movement had to possess unfailing strength. After training and working in the field for a while though, I’ve realized that a little commitment to learn goes a long way. It’s hard, but if the only thing holding you back from this work is the idea that you aren’t capable enough, then I challenge you to try.


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