Agents of Change: Treva Parolli-Barnes

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


I always think, what if it were me or my daughter?  What would happen after the assault? If the answer you come up with isn’t a positive one for the victim, then change is needed.

– Treva Parolli-Barnes

1. What is your relationship with STAR, and what led to your work in sexual assault prevention and/or response? 

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My first experience with STAR was as an intern while attending LSU School of Social Work, while also working as Chief of Operations at the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office (EBRPCO). Once I graduated, my relationship with STAR became critical in my work at the coroner’s office.

As soon as I started at EBRPCO, Coroner Beau Clark and Chief of Investigations Shane Evans let me know that one of their goals was to have a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program for our parish, and so it began. Every research project, every paper, and every discussion was on the topic of sexual assault. From that point on, I have taken every opportunity that I have to educate myself on this subject.

2. What do you find most rewarding about your involvement in this work?

The most rewarding thing is helping survivors of sexual assault. I am extremely happy that there is now a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program in East Baton Rouge Parish and DHH Region 2. This is the national standard and the most victim-centered approach, so I feel that by successfully implementing the SANE program, we have helped survivors of sexual assault.

Even though the process of creating this program was extremely difficult and frustrating at times, the members of the EBR Sexual Assault Response Team found a way to work together to create this change which ultimately helps survivors. I found that I love working with people and finding solutions through compromise.

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

The two-year process of trying to get everyone on the same page toward establishing the SANE program was sometimes extremely discouraging and difficult. However, as a two-time breast cancer survivor, I have faced much greater adversity. It is just not in my nature to give up, especially when I truly believe in something. By persevering, I also want to be a good example for my daughter.

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4. What are some simple, day-to-day ways you promote positive change in your community? 

I strive to communicate, listen to another person’s point of view, look at the big picture and get all of the facts before jumping to conclusions. I do not always do these things, but just trying to do them daily promotes change.

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5. What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant about becoming an active member of this movement? 

Unfortunately, sexual violence is prevalent. Whether sexual assaults are reported or not, they are happening. Someone you know could become or has been a victim. I always think, what if it were me or my daughter? What would happen after the assault? If the answer you come up with isn’t a positive one for the victim, then change is needed. It is not acceptable to say, “She was drunk,” “She wore a short skirt,” “She flirted,” “She shouldn’t have been on that street,” etc. We have to shift society’s way of thinking. Even being involved on a small level can create big changes. I know this saying is trite, but a small pebble makes a large ripple.

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