If I had to describe my internship experience at the Center for Sexual Assault in one word, I would say that it was real. As someone who is very passionate about spreading awareness on the topic of sexual assault and advocating for survivors, I was very eager to get started. I quickly learned that supporting survivors means more than hosting events or doing presentations. The passion to support survivors is what fuels the in-between tasks like being on standby during hotline shifts, filing advocate documents, taking notes at outreach meetings, etc. These activities are ones that are not as hands-on, however are crucial to the Center's success. Without doing them, the Center would be unable to function as smoothly and therefore the impact on survivors would be lessened.
Don't get me wrong, I was presented with so many extraordinary opportunities that allowed me to gain experience as an advocate and an educator. I got the chance to hear survivor's stories and learn more about the traumas they are healing from. I also got the chance to form relationships with community members from a different background than I, this helped me gain a new perspective on the different cultural norms and the hardships that these individuals are facing that I have never experienced myself. I learned the value in asking questions and how important it is to not live ignorantly.
From my experience as an intern, I gained an even bigger appreciation for the Center's advocates on staff. I was able to see how each one of them is unique in their way of assisting survivors and spreading knowledge. Some of the staff shared with me their own traumas which helped me to see how our own life experiences shouldn't be a means of defining us, but instead should be seen as something that strengthens someone's capacity for the work they are doing.
My internship experience was real because it truly showed me what it takes to make a difference. While the Center alone cannot create a world free of sexual assault, I am so thankful for their commitment to survivors and for the impactful work they do for our community. I plan to always use this experience within my future career and everyday life, and hopefully those who share the Center's vision will take the initiative to become more involved, expand on their knowledge, spread awareness, fight against rape culture, and advocate for survivors.
If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering or becoming an intern, contact us and give give you the information needed to start those steps.