Abby Roden, a Junior at Saint Anselm College, is a community leader committed to addressing issues of sexual and domestic violence, healthy relationships, and gender equity. For the last three years she has worked with the YWCA NH to provide direct services to survivors and to advocate for change in community policy and culture, both on and off campus. Currently she is working closely with campus and community leaders to more effectively address identified needs of survivors. Part of this work involves organizing and supporting her peers as they provide direct services, organize on campus, and advocate for survivors. She is currently working on campus to organize peer led focus groups to identify the needs for education and services. In the community she is working with the YWCA NH to advocate for local program and policy changes that directly impact survivors, including program changes that support retention of volunteers and prevent volunteer burnout.
For the last two years, I worked on the YWCA NH domestic and sexual violence crisis line as a counselor. I responding to hospital calls, walk-in clients, phone calls, and court needs. During that time, I have worked with resilient survivors who have overcome horrific trauma to take back their lives. Sexual and domestic violence can be experienced by anyone and impacts all of us in some way.
After shadowing the YWCA's court advocacy program and seeing a client of mine arrested for their own abuse I realized that I had to speak out against the re-victimization of survivors in the criminal justice system. Last semester the YWCA NH and the New Hampshire Coalition of Against Domestic Violence worked to get the Marcy's Law amendment pass the New Hampshire state floor so survivors could get justice through the criminal justice system. Marcy Law did not pass last year but the skills that I and other volunteers learned working on the campaign will help us push harder for change. I am proud of the work I have done so far and I am certain that after I leave this powerful work will continue to grow.