Power of Community

By on Oct 11, 2019 in Giving

For over 30 years, Elsa Granados has worked diligently to help end sexual assault through advocacy and education. As the executive director of Standing Together to End Sexual Assault (STESA), Granados aims to expand the reach of the organization to ensure that a wider population can receive life-saving services and support.

New Name, Broader Reach

Standing Together to End Sexual Assault formerly operated as the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center. The organization opted for a rebranding as they encountered a growing number of community members who were unsure if they could receive help from the organization.

“Some people weren’t sure if they could call our hotline because they weren’t in crisis,” explained Granados. “Also, the logo was also perceived as the silhouette of a woman, but we also have numerous boys, men, and members of the transgendered community that come forward. After several years of thinking of it, it was time for a change.”

After a rigorous two-year polling process, the organization decided on the new name Standing Together to End Sexual Assault. The change has been well-received and staff members are already beginning to see results. Callers are more confident that they’ve contacted the right place when they need assistance or information.

Moving Forward as a Community

STESA aims to end sexual violence by

  • addressing stereotypes and myths
  • offering preventative education programs
  • supporting survivors of sexual assault

Common myths can actually make people more vulnerable to assault. “There is this myth, for example, that black men target white women. That’s not true. Assaults tend to occur in the same racial group,” said Granados.

There are also misconceptions on the role of attire and alcohol. “Attire doesn’t matter at all. Yes, alcohol and drugs are involved in a significant amount of assaults. But perpetrators look for any degree of vulnerability,” explained Granados. “That’s why assault survivors range across genders and from infants to the elderly.”

STESA programming educates the public on the myths and realities of sexual assault. Resources also include self-defense workshops and sexual harassment prevention trainings, and multiple community events throughout the year.

To support assault survivors, STESA offers a 24/7/365 hotline. Trained counselors are always available to help survivors at various stages of their journey, whether they are in crisis mode immediately following an attach or coping with trauma years after an assault. Callers can ask questions, get information and referral services, and receive comfort. They are invited to participate in counseling at the center or over the phone. If a caller is interested, they are paired with an advocate to help them while filing a police report.

STESA + Yardi

Yardi has been a proud supporter of prevention and education services at STESA for several years. Grants help to fund in-house services and outreach programs.

Every Sexual Assault Awareness month, STESA hosts outreach events throughout Santa Barbara County. Last year, the organization started Raise the Bar. Staff members trained bartenders, bouncers, owners of nightclubs, and others in the nightlife industry. The trainings helped attendees identify vulnerable parties and explore wise ways to intervene.

“The attendants found it very valuable,” said Granados. “They have seen people with those vulnerabilities and people in precarious situations. They leave work and wonder what happened. Now, attendants feel more empowered to intervene in a way that have patrons feeling better about the establishment and their experiences there. Everyone wanted to make sure patrons can have fun while being safe.”

Yardi employees regularly volunteer with STESA events. They also help spread the word about events and services in the community.

“The involvement of Yardi employees has been so important because we want many people to become involved and know there is support available. No one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something. Sexual assault ends through small and large acts. Yardi is involved in both.”

Getting Involved

Yardi is Energized for Good and you can join us! Support Standing Together to End Sexual Assault by attending the Chocolate de Vine fundraiser every May. You can also participate in SB Gives, a fundraiser hosted each November by Funds for Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara Independent newspaper.