The Rape Recovery Center volunteer team consists of nearly 150 incredible individuals who give their time, talents, and passion to furthering our mission of serving survivors and educating the community about sexual violence. This month, we are so pleased to spotlight our wonderful Crisis Line volunteer, Jenna Matsumura!
Taking a active part in helping survivors, Jenna provides support as a volunteer on our crisis line, going through our 40 hour training has provided her with the necessary tools to answer some of the tough questions and calls that come through. Volunteers like Jenna who see the impact of sexual violence in her community and get involved and continue to do so as they move through different chapters of their lives show us that anyone can volunteer!
What motivated you to become a volunteer at the Rape Recovery Center?
I became a volunteer with the RRC when I was a senior at the University of Utah, right around the time that the Office of Civil Rights' "Dear Colleague" letter was being enacted on campus. Working with the Center for Student Wellness to acclimate their first Victim-Survivor Advocate made me realize how prevalent the problems of sexual and domestic violence were, and continue to be, among college students. At the time there was no way to volunteer with students, so I chose to lend my time to the RRC and support not only my peers but my community as well.
What have you enjoyed most about your time as an RRC volunteer?
Selfishly, one of the things I enjoy most about being a volunteer is the knowledge that I am DOING SOMETHING about an issue that has a profound impact on my community, instead of just talking about it. Working shifts at the RRC can be difficult, but I always am buoyed by the knowledge that I'm not helpless in this fight and that I have something to contribute. That understanding helps me when times get tough. Also, the staff members are amazing and I am constantly in awe of them. I LOVE YOU.
What is most challenging about your volunteer work at the RRC?
The most challenging part for me about working the crisis line is that I want to help so badly, that I have to check my savior complex. I think many people come into the work of violence prevention with underlying if not overt savior complexes and it's hard and long work to undo that thinking and to be actively preventing against it. As a volunteer, it's my job to support the callers, not save them because they are already capable and empowered- they just need some resources and unconditional support.
Tell us a little more about how you spend your time outside of volunteering for the RRC - hobbies, passions, work, school?
When I'm not volunteering with the RRC I enjoy introverted activities like quilting, reading, and embroidery. I have two cats who I am always in a rush to get home to, Cleo and Tang. I currently work at the University of Utah and do marketing for incoming and prospective students, but have traditionally worked with marginalized genders and gender equality. My summer reading recs are: Circe by Madaline Miller, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, and The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang.
You have immersed yourself in the very difficult work of addressing sexual violence. What gives you hope as you approach this work?
I take so much hope from organizations like the RRC and Rise (get it, Amanda Nyguen) who work on a community and policy level to tackle the systemic nature of patriarchal violence. I am also inspired and brought to tears by the passion and knowledge of younger people. They are light years ahead of where I was at that age in regards to knowledge, self-acceptance, advocacy, and understanding their power.
What is your message to others looking to get involved in this work, or considering volunteer work at the RRC?
I often hear from folk that they're afraid they don't have the necessary skills to be a crisis line volunteer or hospital responder. To them, I say, "Great! The RRC will give you the skills." When I started volunteering, I was 21 years old and didn't have many skills in the way of crisis-response. What I did have was a passion to see violence eradicated. That and an open mind to exploring your privilege and identities are all you need to volunteer with the RRC. Join us!