We are ecstatic for our guest today. We had the opportunity to partner with this organization during our Be a Voice this Holiday Season Campaign last year. Once we started working together and learning the amazing things that the Army of Survivors Foundation had to offer, we knew we wanted to help spread their message. Please welcome Grace who is the Founder of the Army of Survivors. You can read her blog post below and find her corresponding podcast here.
One of the reasons, I created this podcast was to provide survivors of trauma options for resources. Something I felt I didn't have. Why did you start your organization?
I started The Army of Survivors because I saw the need for more healing resources, and education around RVSM. Later on, we began to identify that a huge gap in the space was a voice for survivors of sexual violence in sport. With an estimated 3.5 million survivors in sport alone, we aim to advocate for the rights of those athletes. By making one groups’ voice louder, we hope to empower the entire world-wide survivor community.
Out of everything that you do with your organization, what would be the first area you would recommend a survivor to turn to.
Our “What Now?” resource has incredible (I know I’m slightly biased on that) information on the options that are open to survivors after violence. We have some amazing resources on our website that also give survivors books and movies to escape and not to think about the violence, but also ways to work toward healing and educate themselves on the world of RVSM.
What do you do when your not running your organization?
I work in the marketing department of a financial services company developing their brand. I am also a dance teacher!
What inspires you to keep going?
There have been so many people that have come up to me and disclosed their story because they say that our voices have empowered them to take control, and to take their power back from the perpetrator. These individuals inspire me daily.
What advice to you have for someone that wants to start their own non-profit or business?
Take your time finding the right people to work with. Also know that it’s going to be at least 10x more work than you were expecting, so schedule in time for yourself, and to consciously cut yourself off from the work. It’s important to take breaks and to take care of yourself because when you come back, you’ll have even more energy to get to work!
What struggles did you face when starting your organization?
A big struggle that we faced is that those who volunteered to work on the org, and who were the most passionate to get it going were also survivors themselves. Balancing self-care and healing along with starting an organization made it extremely difficult.
The #MeToo movement has more attention given to sexual abuse, harassment, and assault, what messages do you hope will rise to the surface? What are the most important takeaways?
One of the biggest misconceptions that I have seen is false reporting. Often people will say that a survivor is “making it up” when they come forward. But false reporting is between 2- 8% which is the same as other felonies. We wouldn’t treat a victim of robbery the way we treat a victim of sexual violence.
Do you think is mental health is being addressed, in relation to rape survivors and in general, effectively in the US?
No, not at all. I think that mental health disorders are overwhelmingly diagnosed for those who are white, and have the privilege of access to mental health professionals. This does not account for any of the people of color who are survivors. I also don’t think people understand the severity of the long-term repercussions of sexual violence yet. There needs to be a lot more education on that matter.
Where do you think there's still room for improvement?
I think there is a ton of improvement to be had around holding institutions accountable for institutional abuse. The Larry Nassar case being just one of the many where the institutions who allowed the abuse to continue, and knew it was happening are let off with (sometimes less than) a slap on the wrist. This shows institutions that they will not be held responsible for abuse, so why even work to identify, intervene, or prevent??
With #MeToo and #TimesUp, what impact do you feel they have made and how have they impacted you? One of Voices of Hope's campaign is called #BeAVoice. How can you be a voice for those that feel they are silenced?
The movement empowered me because I knew I would not be alone when I came forward with my story. I think being a voice means taking opportunities to speak and to educate the community on the impact of sexual violence, and how we as a society can do better, through the opportunities that we may have. I know that I have a privilege in the opportunities I have. Whether that be because of my race, socio-economic status, identity, sexual-orientation, or the case that I was involved in, I have been given chances that many other survivors do not have. I hope to use those opportunities to lift survivors up with me.
What would be the best way one could find out more information about your organization?
Visit our website: www.thearmyofsurvivors.org
What is the best way to get in touch with you?
DM us on any of our social media handles, or contact us through the website!
What are your social media handles?
Facebook: @The Army of Survivors
Grace is a marketing coordinator, a change agent, advocate, and passionate plant mom. She received a Bachelor of Business Administration from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, with a minor in dance. Currently she works in Detroit as a marketer, and strategist. Grace has dedicated her life to changing the culture of sport, educating others about consent, and creating institutional accountability to make sure that no one has to endure sexual violence or abuse.