This is our second post on our Coffee & Consent Campaign and tonight, I am honored to introduce a friend of mine, Kristina Marinkovich. She was interviewed for our video chat, which is at the bottom of the page, but also was able to answer a few additional questions. Check out her answers below!
What changes do you hope come from #MeToo?
I hope that people, men and women alike, can find the courage and confidence to come forward
if and when they are ever a survivor of sexual abuse. I think that with the #MeToo movement people who have been affected realize that they are not alone, and it is okay to come forward
without facing repercussions from their abuser. Hopefully, this will drive the message that sexual assault/harassment of any kind is not okay and the consequences are life altering for all involved.
Now that so many people see scope of the problem, how do we deal with how repugnant our beliefs are?
Now that people see how big the problem of sexual abuse/assault is, we cannot ignore is any more and go back to turning a blind eye to it. It has taken years of people getting abused in silence, and now it is not acceptable. People need to be education on what consent it and think of what it means to them. I think we need to focus on educating people about consent and that it is okay to say something if someone does not obey the consent.
When someone you know or even love is accused of doing a terrible thing, how will you reconcile your ethics with you affection?
Unfortunately, I do know people who have been accused of doing terrible things, and it is not easy to deal with. I have tried to keep an open mind and understand why they did the things that they did as well as understand that there are two sides to every story, but it is hard. I don’t think that you can ever see the accused in the same light ever again no matter how hard you try. There will always been unanswered questions, and you’ll always be walking on eggshells in future conversations. It is hard to accept matters for what they are, but every person reacts to situations differently and you can’t really predict how you will handle something like this until you actually have to face it.
If someone came and told you that they have been victimized, in any way, what would you do?
I would encourage them to report what happened. If someone were to confide in me, I would be the shoulder for them to lean on and stay with them every step of the way. This process isn’t something that a survivor should have to face alone.
One of Voices of Hope’s campaign is called #BeAVoice. How can you be a voice for those that feel they are silenced?
I work with a lot of young people in many different roles, and I also serve as a role model at Ms. Universal. It is important for me to emphasize to everyone that you have to be strong for yourself no matter how difficult it may be. If you need someone to stand with you, they will, but they can’t do that until you stand first. No one should be forced into doing something that they do not want to do. It is not okay for you to feel uncomfortable in any situation. If it doesn’t feel good, it is not right, and you need to remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible. I feel that I do a good job in keeping an open door policy to let those who I work with know that I am there for them and available to them if there ever need someone in their corner to #BeAVoice.
Kristina Marinkovich is a lifelong resident of Johnstown, PA where she is secretary of the YWCA of Greater Johnstown’s board of directors, a founding member and treasurer of The Stiletto Network, W.I.S.E., serves as Chairperson for the Cambria-Somerset outstanding Young Women Scholarship Program, and an active volunteer at her church, St. Nicholas Serbian Orthodox Church, where she is the secretary of the Circle of Serbian Sisters and vice president of the choir. Kristina also teaches dance at Le Dance Academie in Salix, serves as the musical choreographer for Greater Johnstown and Conemaugh Valley School Districts, and works with the Conemaugh Township High School Class and Taste Marching Band. Currently, Kristina holds the title of Ms. Universal 2017 where she was crowned in London, England in international competition. She has had many opportunities afforded to her so far throughout her reign and has continuously promoted her platform, H.EA.L.T.H.Y. -Helping Everyone Achieve a Lifestyle To a Healthy You, over the past two years as Ms. US Universal 2016 and now as Ms. Universal. Every month Kristina features recipes from her cookbook, “H.E.AL.T.H.Y. Eats” on WTAJ’s “Central PA Live”, and all proceeds from cookbook sales will be used to purchase stationary bikes to be donated to area schools as part of a national “Read and Ride” program. Kristina has also extended her platform on an international level, through her work with Lifeline Humanitarian Organization, the philanthropy organization of Crown Princess Katherine of Serbia that is dedicated to helping orphans of Serbia. As Ms. US Universal, Kristina spearheaded a fundraiser in Johnstown, “A Night in Serbia”, in which the Crown Prince and Princess of Serbia attended and over $7,000 was raised for Lifeline. Kristina is always looking for opportunities to share her platform, serve as a public speaker, and give back to her community.