Written by Camille Schloeffel, the Founder/Director of The STOP Campaign.
When I found out I was shortlisted for the @Probonoaust #2019Impact25 Awards, I couldn’t believe it. These awards shine a spotlight on individuals making a positive impact in the social sector. Leading up to the voting period, I felt happy, shocked, validated, scared and embarrassed. It’s been a difficult journey trying to keep up the activism, support, and STOP Campaign initiatives alongside all my other commitments, and honestly, it’s been draining.
I am so passionate about this issue and I will never stop advocating for what is right…that’s a fact. Awards like these provide a sense of recognition and strength to continue the work I am doing. The STOP Campaign, and personal initiatives, will continue to grow and exist…but imagine how much reach they could have with a strong network of support?
Time and time again, I have been knocked back, even by those closest to me. Either I’m ‘too passionate’, ‘too stuck in my ways’, ‘I can’t take a joke’, or ‘I’m stealing the spotlight’. Such backlash and criticism is more constant than people may think, and most of it is coming from other activists in the space of sexual violence prevention and response. I’m either criticised for doing too much, or not enough – I can never get it right.
What I keep telling myself is that I’m only human and one human can only do so much. I am trying to change a culture that doesn’t welcome change, especially from young people. However, when awards such as these come about I think more positively about the many people who are open to change, and who want the world to change too.
The work I am doing means so much to me on such a deep level because all my life, growing up, sexual violence was never spoken about and The STOP Campaign has played a huge part in changing the dialogue and creating a platform for people to speak about it.
This post isn’t about gaining pity from those around me, but to shine a light on the reality of the work I have been doing. This week alone, I’ve spent more than 50 hours working to achieve STOP initiatives in the Orientation period of the Australian National University. This involves a multitude of different campaigns, educational materials, meetings, team collaboration, and more. In the exam period last year, whilst completing my final assessments and exams to graduate from my degree, and working in two part-time jobs, I spent an extra 30 hours producing our ‘Reclaim the Narrative’ Zine, recruiting the 2020 Team, and more.
The launch for this Zine project is coming up in late February, and I hope the turnout from community members and fellow activists is greater than last year. As well, this zine details more than double the stories in our 2018 'Revealing Truths and Breaking Stigmas' Project. This may mean that people are more open to speaking about their trauma through this medium, but it also demonstrates the fact that sexual violence is rife on university campuses. My story is also in this zine. So yes, this is very personal to me.
These realities are why my efforts to enact positive change will never end, and why activists in this space tend to not feel deserving of such recognition. They are almost always survivors themselves, and as a trauma survivor who receives criticism and disrespect on a weekly basis...sometimes it's hard to believe I deserve this award.
The more I dwell on the idea that I am not deserving of such an award, the more I want to fight back against the systems that have conditioned me to think this way. The people who reinforce such sentiments are going to be hearing from me...loud and clear.
On a very personal level, I feel as though this award has provided me with even more drive and passion to keep fighting for change. This year is going to be tough, but it’s all worth it. Because you know what, I do deserve this recognition, and I am proud of myself.
I would be ever so grateful to receive votes from the community for this award. Together, we can make noise, more widespread than we imagined. 2020 is our year - Let’s do this.
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Vote for Camille Schloeffel for the Probonoaust #2019Impact25 Awards at pbaimpact.com.
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Tickets (free) to the Reclaim the Narrative Zine Launch are available here: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/reclaim-the-narrative-zine-launch-tickets-89205715697
To keep up-to-date with Launch details, please see the Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/2597532590302933/