Agents of Change: Ariel White

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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.


The truth is, you can’t do one without the other. You can’t just have a social movement and leave the day-to-day realities alone, and the day-to-day can be futile if there isn’t a movement behind it to bring hope of a better future.

-Ariel White

1. What is your position at STAR? 

Ariel Wedding Photo

I’m a Resource Advocate in the Greater New Orleans office. In this position, I provide support and advocacy for the rights and protection of survivors of sexual trauma and their loved ones, including assessing survivor’s needs and working with community resources to fulfill those needs, which may include shelter, counseling, food, property return, and general advocacy and support.

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

During the course of getting my MSW, I worked with an organization in New Orleans and provided counseling to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. After graduation, I continued to work for them as a medical advocate. Going to the hospital and working with clients as they moved through the criminal justice and medical systems was hugely rewarding for me, but I realized how unbelievably difficult and complicated it could be if you don’t have support.

I’ve always been fascinated by social movements — how they are built and how they transform. Working with STAR gives me the opportunity to enmesh those two passions by building a movement to end sexual violence and help individuals navigate a system that can be scary and discouraging. The truth is, you can’t do one without the other. You can’t just have a social movement and leave the day-to-day realities alone, and the day-to-day can be futile if there isn’t a movement behind it to bring hope of a better future.

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

I love seeing the change that our work brings, from the smallest thing, like a client saying that they felt safe to go on a run today, to seeing legislation passed that supports survivors. The moment something changes inside a person or inside a system is the most beautiful thing in the world to me. I want to watch that over and over again.

Ariel Wedding photo 2

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

The harder something is, the more I’m interested in it. I’m intrigued when something goes terribly wrong and I have the chance to tinker with it and fix it.

I also talk with the people who are doing similar work and let them inspire me. I’m lucky that there are so many of these people both at STAR and in my personal life. There’s a lot of strength in sharing what’s hard about your job.

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

Listening to people — it’s the motivation behind ninety percent of my career choices. I have worked as a reporter, a therapist, for Members of Congress and for about a thousand non-profit organizations and the best part is hearing people’s stories and letting them feel heard.

I like to think that giving the people I’m around the ability to vent or to express what’s going on with them is promoting a positive change.

Ariel Childhood Photo

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

It’s okay to be hesitant. Your activism doesn’t have to look like someone else’s. There are so many ways to be involved and active that you can choose what makes the most sense and go for it.

 

To learn about how to get involved with STAR, visit our website or email prevention@star.ngo

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