Coni Stogner

As Interviewed by Connor Stogner, March 20, 2017

Coni Stogner: In Her Own Words

Domestic violence can be anything from physical violence between intimate partners or people who are dating. It can also be verbal abuse or emotional abuse and can also include sexual abuse. But people tend to think about it in terms of the physical abuse.

Now in my role as vice president at SAFE, I supervise all of our programs that focus on prevention works so trying to end violence and abuse. I focus on all of our programs that have a large community collaboration component -- and a lot of my work involves community task forces meeting with other community leaders.

safe is to end sexual assault domestic violence, child abuse and exploitation, and we do that by providing safety services, healing services, and social change by trying to work to influence the systems that interact with people that experience violence and try to improve the responses for people who may experience child abuse, domestic violence, or sexual assault.

We also operate three different residential shelters on the Austin Children's Center side that are for youth that are not with their parents. We do quite a bit of prevention work we work in schools to try and promote healthy relationships.

The issues of child abuse, domestic violence, and sexual assault don't happen in silos, and what we know from many years of doing this work is that these issues donít affect people in silos, they affect the same individuals over the course of a lifespan or the same family generation after generation.

So often you hear these horror stories of people committing these mass shootings and other types of violence, and so frequently if you look at the experiences of the person who commit these crimes you will see either child abuse in their background or they grew up with domestic violence or they experienced some type of trauma.

I think I was always the type of person that wanted to help people and I think I didn't realize how much I would love it till I started doing it and I remember working In the shelter and really small acts of somebody coming up to the front desk and saying they didn't have toothpaste and being able to give them toothpaste. Sometimes things even as little as that made you feel really good, like you were serving a purpose.

Domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault, whenever someone experienced trauma it can impact them in so many ways I mentioned substance abuse or mental health issues, but I also feel that a big impact is that cycle of abuse keeps getting played out over and over again, so it's really important that if someone does experience trauma that they reach out and try to get some support to heal from that.

By advocating strongly that this is not okay, that relationships should be about mutual respect and non violent problem-solving, it's very much also advocating for women and to be treated with respect and the crimes that are largely targeted against woman to be taken seriously and addressed by our community. The truth of the matter is that when I go to work I get to see the world as it really is as opposed to people walking through their lives having to put on a mask and act like everything's okay and pretending that nothing is wrong in their homes. And so it's actually sort of refreshing to go to a place where everything is sort of out there and I feel honored and privileged that people come in out doors and tell us what's really happening in their lives.

There's a common misconception that domestic violence in particular, or sexual assault, are women's issues in that it's women would work to end this -- and that's so not gonna be how we can end these types of crimes and these types of abuse. That's really putting all the blame and all the responsibility on women, when what we need to be doing is talking to young men and teaching teenagers and young men what consent looks like and what do healthy relationships look like and how do you solve problems in a relationship in a non violent way and how do you have equality in a relationships and were hoping that we can teach young people how to solve problems and what consent looks like and how to have relationships that are not violent.