Hi! I’m Carrie Estrada and I recently joined NWCASA in December 2020 as the Executive Director. These introductions are necessary, but in the spirit of transparency, writing my introduction was not something I was looking forward to. It is a bit daunting. What would I want you to know about me? About NWCASA? About the movement? What would I miss? Because there is just SO much. There is so much work to be done and so much to discuss. And I am truly excited to play a role in making it all happen!
For over twenty years, I have worked as a social worker and had the privilege of witnessing the power of human resilience again and again. I have found there is something sacred about working with Survivors. Survivors reclaim their strength and make meaning from horrific experiences while existing in a culture that does not support them or even believe them. It is a privilege to walk alongside them in their healing journey.
I believe that to live in a community where everyone can thrive, we have to bring the topic of sexual violence to light. We know that 1 in 4 womxn will be the victim of sexual assault in the United States. Sexual violence crimes in our community impacts each and every one of us in small and profound ways. The silence surrounding this topic leaves us in a culture that only perpetuates more violence with womxn (& some men) running defense all the time. How do we know it is a culture problem? Because of the “safety checklist”. You may be familiar. That list that echoes through a womxn’s mind at all times…
…”can I walk there unaccompanied?”
…”can I carry my keys as a weapon?”
…”did I bring my pepper spray?”
…”is this all enough to keep me safe?”
It’s exhausting and it’s a tragedy that the “safety checklist” even exists. And even though the “list” exists, we already know that 80% of victims have a trusting relationship with their perpetrator. Therefore, the “list” was never going to help. Most people don’t realize that although 1 in 4 will be a victim, 80% of those assaults will never even make it into a courtroom. That is the reality of how survivors are regarded in our country. We can and we must do better as a community.
As the leader of this agency, I will work to maximize the strengths of the already established and fabulous staff who work alongside me while seeking support to address our vulnerabilities. I do all this because I am a fierce advocate for justice and recognize the strength in a strong team collectively doing this work together. We will create a safe space that allows for the vulnerability of shared ideas & growth. By creating a team synergy of healthy support, we are organically able to better support survivors. The team will intentionally keep at the forefront of our work, grassroots, anti-racist, intersectional feminist theory and application. We will actively work to acknowledge how gender, color, sexual orientation, ableism, and level of privilege play a role in violence, recovery, and treatment.
But our team cannot make the big difference that is needed, unless you are also on the team. We need an engaged community response to combat sexual assault. We need legislators willing to address this epidemic of violence and community members understanding and speaking out against rape culture. It does not have to be this way. We can raise feminist children and hold rapists accountable. We can live in a world where womxn no longer must question how they will get across that parking lot to their car quickly and safely. And where survivors can come forward because they are believed.
This is more than just “getting the bad guy”. We need to change cultural norms. Creating a new normal where boundaries are respected, the vulnerable are protected, and individuals can thrive in the communities where they live. I grew up in this community and I chose to raise my family here. I am fully invested in making our community safer. Join me, our team and the movement to end sexual violence where we live. All are invited and I look forward to working with each of you to build the communities we deserve.