A Two-Front Battle Against Sexual Assault
How do you end sexual assault across an entire community?
The answer, according to the leaders of Standing Together to End Sexual Assault (STESA), is rooted at both the individual and community level. The 46-year-old agency, formerly known as the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center, set up the first-ever sexual assault hotline in Santa Barbara in 1974.
Over the years, the services have grown. Now STESA intervenes with survivors within hours of an assault, counsels those who may have delayed sharing their stories and is engaged in a full-on effort against the cultural norms that have allowed sexual violence to proliferate for so long.
Executive Director Elsa Granados has been in the movement to end sexual violence since 1985. In 1997, she assumed her role at STESA. What keeps her engaged?
“Overall what I see is that we really transform people’s lives,” Granados says. “They come to us in a place where they are very vulnerable, feeling pain and trauma. It’s not that transformation comes overnight. But when they make the decision to leave our services, they are in a different place.”
Amazingly, STESA’s skeleton full-time staff of four hotline responders/case managers and a clutch of dedicated volunteers comprehensively meet the needs of 550 survivors and their significant others all using an empowerment model. Once a call comes into the hotline, STESA staff or volunteers are there within 30 minutes. This could be at a school, hospital or police station. They then walk survivors through their options: medical care, legal reporting, and mental health counseling. “We always ask survivors if they want to work with us,” says STESA Program Director Idalia Gomez. “One decision about their bodies was already taken from them, so we make sure they know they are in charge of their healing.”
Beyond direct services, STESA is actively engaged in educating the community about the prevalence and precursors to sexual assault. They go into Santa Barbara schools, debunking myths about sexual assualt, hold community events – and even teach self-defense.
“We need everyone in our community to be engaged in the issue,” Executive Director Granados says. “Not everyone has to do everything, but everyone has to do something when it comes to sexual assault.”
Standing Together to End Sexual Assault (STESA)Donate now!
Phone: (805) 963-6832 ext 15
Executive Director: Elsa Granados
Standing Together to End Sexual Assault (STESA) – Formerly the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center, empowers people through healing and social change to eliminate all forms of sexual violence. We are committed to transforming lives by providing services and education to meet the needs of our diverse community.
Begin to Build a Relationship
We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s Director of Development and/or Executive Director.
As a sexual assault survivor, I know first-hand the importance of STESA’s work. I remember how alone I felt following my assault, and it’s something I’d never wish for another survivor to experience. STESA plays an essential role in providing expert crisis and long-term supportive services to survivors in our community. STESA staff members are compassionate and dedicated to healing and empowering survivors, preventing sexual violence, and creating social change through education. By giving my time and financial support to STESA, I know that I am supporting other survivors and transforming lives.
Empower Survivors Through Healing and Social Change
The nightly news is filled with appalling damage caused by sexual assault to the individuals it touches and to our community’s well-being. Through the #MeToo movement, we have made important strides in support of survivors of sexual assault. Through this work, we hope that all perpetrators of sexual violence are held accountable for their crimes and that survivors receive the support and justice they deserve.
For this purpose, please consider making a gift. Your donation ensures that the women and men who have experienced the trauma of sexual assault have a place where they can receive the counseling, advocacy, and other support services that are crucial to the healing process.
Your contribution assists us in supporting our community-wide education programs that create awareness and intolerance for sexual violence. With these educational programs, we can create significant social change, which will lead to the elimination of this brutal crime.
Harriet Eckstein & Alan Irwin
Fund for Santa Barbara
Debra P. Geiger & Eliot Crowley
Devon Geiger Nielsen
Cheri Gurse & Carol Keator
The Manger Scout Fund
Montecito Bank & Trust
New Day Marketing
Linda Sanders & One On One Fitness
Santa Barbara Foundation
Tomchin Family Foundation
The Towbes Foundation
Nancy Weiss & Marc Chytilo
Yardi Systems Inc.