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 HRT volunteer, Steph St. Clair!
Steph is one of our wonderful volunteers on our Hospital Response Team. With her background as a RN Steph brings knowledge, openness, and hope to the staff she works with and take her volunteer experience to the clients she works with!
What motivated you to become a volunteer at the Rape Recovery Center?
As a former community organizer with the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights campaign, I was deeply impacted by the experiences of women seeking services to deal with domestic violence and sexual assault. As a survivor of sexual assault myself, it was powerful to witness the impact of women organizing and standing together to collectively address sexual assault and violence, when my own experience had been so isolating. I moved to Utah three years ago and joined the RRC last year while pursuing my nursing degree-the RRC felt like an opportunity to establish a community and political home, while also providing important and trauma-informed services to survivors in my new home city. Even though I was going to school full-time and working part-time, I spent two weeks attending the RRC’s 40-hour training on nights and weekends. Despite the long hours, I came home energized and inspired by the vision of building a trauma-informed space both for healing from sexual violence, and one that engages in proactive education to prevent it from occurring in the first place. I knew that I wanted to join the Hospital Response Team after attending the training, and have already seen the impacts that RRC’s education and training have had on my clinical practice as an RN.
What have you enjoyed most about your time as an RRC volunteer?
Two things stand out about the RRC: one, that it is an organization that values the wellbeing and emotional health of its staff and volunteers. They are truly committed to supporting their community to develop long-term relationships with the organization, and have always worked to accommodate my busy schedule as a student and now, new RN. Second, the RRC’s volunteer training and support have provided me with an invaluable analysis and skillset that has supported my own healing process and that I use every day as a healthcare provider. As an RN working in the field of women’s and children’s health, I see the impacts that sexual violence has on our community every day: my experience as a HRT volunteer has provided me with the tools and experience to offer those women better care and support, and has made me a better nurse overall.
What is most challenging about your volunteer work at the RRC?
The obvious challenge of working with the RRC is that the everyday invisible effects of sexual violence become visible: while many of us know the statistics and often have our own histories, receiving those phone calls and meeting survivors face-to-face can be a reminder of just how pervasive this issue is.
Tell us a little more about how you spend your time outside of volunteering for the RRC - hobbies, passions, work, school?
Some of the tools in my self-care toolbox include hiking and playing with my awesome dogs Luna (a husky/shepherd mix) and Finn (a Boston terrier.) I like to nerd out and read speculative fiction, and always fall back on Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings when I need a break from this world. I rock climb, roller skate, and try to stay active with friends, and am currently learning to garden since my partner and I just bought a sweet new home with a beautiful veggie garden.
Outside of the RRC, I work as NICU nurse, and am passionate about bridging my work with the RRC and healthcare by providing all my clients and patients with compassionate and trauma-informed care. I hope to one day become a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner and work with survivors as well as RRC staff and volunteers.
You have immersed yourself in the very difficult work of addressing sexual violence. What gives you hope as you approach this work?
I think that we live in a hopeful and exciting political moment where the invisible impacts of sexual violence are becoming visible: the work of community organizers for decades helped to build the framework of the Me Too movement, which has launched sexual violence into the public eye and demanded a public reckoning. I am inspired by the work of women of color and the reproductive justice movement, whose vision and leadership provide a blueprint for a world that works to prevent harm, minimize its impact, and create mechanisms for genuine accountability and restorative justice.
What is your message to others looking to get involved in this work, or considering volunteer work at the RRC?
If you are thinking about doing this work, chances are that you’ve got a driving reason behind it- interrogate that, understand it, and be clear about your own histories and identity coming into the work. And then do it! It is an amazing experience and the training and support that you will receive will be invaluable no matter where you decide to use it.