In photo left to right: Jenny Murphy-Shifflet, Enid Melendez, Eric Stiles, Ali Mailen Perrotto, Jackie Strohm, Annie Gebhardt
Nominator: Ali Mailen Perrotto, Contract Liaison, PA Coalition Against Rape (PCAR)
Award Recipient: Eric Stiles, Project Manager, National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC)
On the first day that
I met him, Eric was kind, funny, and welcoming to a room full of new advocates
who were nervous about responding to hotline calls and providing advocacy to
victims of sexual assault. He is a gifted trainer and a gifted counselor, and
he brings these gifts forward in every interaction. I’ve heard people comment
time and again that Eric has an uncanny knack for helping people to move and
grow into a better version of themselves.
The healing journey
involves moments of great joy, bridges to new opportunities, warm circles of
support, and also dark tunnels of doubt and shame. Eric has lived this journey.
As a child, he was repeatedly sexually assaulted by his older brothers in a
small rural community in Pennsylvania. Already facing discrimination and
bullying because of his perceived sexual orientation, his home life should have
been his refuge. Instead, he faced violence and abuse.
Eric speaks openly about
the pain of the abuse he experienced and of the crushing reality of living in a
community that didn’t believe him when he told about it. He heard messages from
community members, school personnel, law enforcement, and therapists that what
he was describing “didn’t happen to boys,” “would ruin his brother’s life,” or
“wasn’t that big of a deal.” There are so many ways that his community failed
him, and I think this in part spurs him on a never failing mission to ensure
that no survivor hears those words ever again.
People who thrive
after sexual violence also have moments of great light and joy. Eric fondly
recalls the loving embraces of his mother and grandmother. Both women fostered
growth and strength in him that he carries still today. Sadly, both passed away
when he was a child. Despite this, he holds the good that they showed him in
his heart always. A mother’s love is warm and fierce, and that is the kind of
approach that Eric takes in his work in the antisexual violence movement.
In every role that he
has fulfilled, Eric has bravely and generously shared his story of survivorship
and healing in a variety of public outlets. He tells his story in news media,
articles, blog posts, video productions, and trainings. He hones in on messages
strength in survivors, and shares real ways that others can rise to the
occasion when they hear a disclosure.
He brings his full
energy, enthusiasm, wit, and humor into all that he does. His playful attitude
creates a comforting atmosphere, and it makes it easy and fun to engage in work
to create a better world. He always lends a listening ear and loving support to
countless coworkers and friends as we continue this difficult work together. Eric
has dedicated his heart, his mind, his service, and his story of survivorship
to the betterment of all victim services and communities.
Mr. Stiles was presented the award on May 9th, during the 14th Pathways for Victim Services Conference in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
On behalf of victims of crime and the victim services field, we thank you, Mr. Stiles, for your innovation, collaboration, and unfailing commitment to victims of crime.