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2021: Hope, Healing, and Transformation

     As 2021 comes to a close, we reflect on the challenges and changes this year brought. Throughout all of it, we have found strength. Through strength comes hope, healing, and transformation. The Blue Bench is made up of two important departments: our prevention team that provides critical sexual assault prevention programming for the community and our client services team who provides advocacy for survivors, including a 24/7 crisis hotline and therapeutic care. Both departments work tirelessly to bring hope, healing, and transformation for survivors and for our community.

     Our prevention staff works towards the ultimate goal of stopping sexual assault from happening. To do this, they address contributing factors at various levels: individual, relationship, community, and society. They also create prevention programming that is survivor-centered and anti-racist. Janei Maynard, the Prevention Training and Curriculum Manager at The Blue Bench said, “In order for our approaches to prevention and care to be survivor-centered, we must return power back to the communities that are the most impacted by the issue of sexual violence. Because we know that sexual violence has a disproportionate impact on folks from historically oppressed communities, returning power back to these communities through intentional, intersectional anti-oppression work is one of the first steps to healing and shifting the culture around sexual violence.” 

    One of the ways our client services department supports survivors is through advocacy. Ariane Walder, Advocacy Manager at The Blue Bench said, “Sexual assault impacts so much of who a person is and how they live their life. At The Blue Bench, we aim to address all of that. Our clinical team works with survivors on their mental health and emotional healing, and our advocacy team supports a survivor with the other ways that their life may be impacted. All of which is essential to healing. Survivors are often dealing with a loss of safety, a loss of relationships and support systems, often a loss of income, housing, education. They may be engaged in the criminal justice system or may be seeking to find what justice means to them and how they can attain that. Advocates give survivors the knowledge, resources, and support, to empower a survivor to be able to take all of this on. And that is healing.”

     In addition to advocacy, our client services team also offers both individual and group therapy. Ana Martinez, the Clinical Manager at The Blue Bench said “Healing looks like survivors feeling comfortable in their own skin, asserting their needs and boundaries, and connecting with others within their community in a comfortable way.  Healing looks like a survivor feeling they can be both strong and vulnerable as needed. Importantly, healing is not linear. There is not a magical end point at which survivors are “fixed” or never feel impacted by their experience again. Rather, healing gives survivors the tools and support they need to navigate the inevitable ups and downs that life may throw their way, and the strength and confidence to know that they can continue surviving.” 

     Together, The Blue Bench works to provide well-rounded services for both survivors and the community.  

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