Sandra Greene is the executive director of Beyond Survival, Grays Harbor’s sexual assault resource center. She has been with the organization for almost a decade. Beyond Survival, a non-profit, strives to support, educate and empower all people affected by sexual abuse on Grays Harbor. The organization strives for greater education about the prevention of sexual and domestic abuse, and staff members spend much of their time in schools, community centers and with families, raising the level of awareness around sexual assault prevention.
When did you start with Beyond Survival, what were your thoughts heading into the position?
I first began with Beyond Survival in 2004 as a Grays Harbor College work study student. In 2010, I applied to the board of directors and was accepted as a board member where I participated for approximately one year until I resigned to apply for the vacant Executive Director position, which I obtained in 2012. When I accepted the position with Beyond Survival there was a lot of transition going on and I knew going in that it was going to be difficult; I brought experience, community contacts and passion. As a team, the staff and board members set our minds in a direction we wanted to see Beyond Survival head, a direction we needed to go toward, we developed a new strategic plan, mission, vision and we set out to accomplish it.
As director of the organization, what is your main objective each day?
The primary objective is to strive to support, educate and empower all people impacted by sexual abuse. To provide a safe and respectful place for people to share their experiences and heal. As the director it is imperative that I continue to seek out funding, meet grant requirements, support staff and encourage self care for those providing direct client services.
How and why do you contribute to particular organizations in the Harbor?
Partnerships and collaboration is the cornerstone to a healthy community. I participate in many community meetings, events, training and multi-disciplinary teams. The CAC of Grays Harbor, Domestic Violence Center of Grays Harbor, Youth Center, Catholic Community Services, NAMI, Work Source/Pacific Mountain Workforce Grays Harbor, local Law Enforcement, CPS, Prosecutors and schools are a few of the partnerships we contribute to.
How many people work full-time for the organization and what services do they provide that would otherwise not be available in the community?
Currently we have one full-time executive director, one full time lead advocate, one and a quarter time youth advocate, two part time advocates, three Grays Harbor College interns, one work study student, five volunteers and seven Board members. Without all of these people contributing their time and dedication Grays Harbor would go without Sexual Abuse advocacy, school prevention activities, response to the 24 hour Crisis response line, support groups for survivors of sexual abuse and community awareness regarding sexual abuse. All of our services are FREE and confidential.
What kind of obstacles do you face during the holiday season?
The holidays can be very difficult for survivors and their families. Many cases involve perpetration from family members or close friends whom they had shared these times with. There are triggers for the survivors during these times and sadness for the families who are supporting them. Many families are separated due to the abuse.
What are some of the obstacles that make sexual abuse more dangerous or complicated in a rural area like Grays Harbor? How does Beyond Survival work to address these problems?
There are many risk factors to Sexual Abuse, this is not to say that these things cause the abuse or guarantee the abuse will happen but they commonly contribute.
• Drug and Alcohol abuse
• Prior victimization
• Unemployment rates
• Single parent households
• Number of offenders in area
• Lack of education and awareness around abuse
One of our goals in addressing these risk factors is to educate youth regarding boundaries, healthy relationships, safe and unsafe touch, self esteem and responsible consent. We want to educate community members on how to protect youth, identify abuse and hold perpetrators accountable.
What kind of assistance from the county facilities are you most thankful for and why? What are some areas you could use some more help?
The facilities that provide crisis services to families are like a family, we wrap around the client’s needs as a team. No single provider can do it all on their own, it takes teamwork, communication and hard work. I think we are, as a community, doing the best we can with what we have. We have a long way to go and we can always use the support of those who would like to get involved. As with many agencies funding and transportation are always barriers.
How do you balance your position, which is likely emotionally draining at times, and life with family and friends?
It is a balancing act at times. In a small community it is always going to be a struggle to not get emotionally involved in the cases when you are raising a family and know the extent of the dangers that are present and the hurt the families are experiencing. Although, being a part of the healing, education and support we are able to give the families balances it out at the end of the day. Knowing that I am a piece of making a difference in my community, in the lives of children and families, and by doing my part to help dispel the stigmas and myths that go along with sexual abuse is rewarding. I have a very supportive family that I value very much, including my time with them, so I try to make a conscious effort to focus on them when we are together.