Jessica Jones: I Am An Advocate

Sexual assault is an issue that personally affected me. Once I moved to Columbia, I started looking for an organization that would allow me to work directly with individuals and provide an immediate positive impact in their lives. When I found STSM, I saw that they allowed volunteers to work as advocates, and knew I wanted to volunteer to fight against rape culture while giving survivors the compassionate, unwavering advocate I wish had been there for me.

I have been an advocate for a little over a year, and during my on-call shifts, I sit on my couch, my phone in hand, waiting for a hotline or hospital call. When I answer a hotline call, I am there to help “relieve” their immediate crisis within 10 to 15 minutes over the phone. I keep calm, acknowledge their pain, and affirm their worth, as well as introduce them to the services STSM provides.

A hospital call requires more mental and emotional energy, but they’re incredibly rewarding to me. I am able to help survivors one-on-one. I feel like I’m truly making a difference whether it’s answering questions about their hospital visit, listening as they talk through their experience, or simply making their time in the emergency room more comfortable.

While nobody wants there to be a hospital call (because a hospital call means a sexual assault has occurred), I’m helping them navigate their interactions with hospital staff and police as well as their own emotions while providing information about what their next steps might look like. Giving survivors the knowledge and resources they need to make decisions going forward is what I truly love to do.

Because I love being an advocate and working with STSM, I’m currently completing my training to be a Speaker’s Bureau Volunteer. I’m excited to be a public representative for STSM, and educate the public about sexual assault and the services STSM offers the Midlands community.

My life isn’t all sexual assault and advocacy 24/7, I enjoy writing in addition to reading, playing video games, sleeping, and snuggling my cats. After tough hospital calls, I unwind with Bob’s Burgers and indulge in elaborate facials, chemical peels, and clay masks. To support my unhealthy spending habits, I work full-time as a marketing professional.

To say that being an advocate for STSM is rewarding is an understatement. It’s one of the most important things I’ve done in my life. By advocating for survivors and letting them regain control of their lives, I’m able to take control of my own narrative and not let my sexual assault defeat me.