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In photo left to right: Jenny Murphy-Shifflet, Enid Melendez, Eric Stiles, Ali Mailen Perrotto
, Jackie Strohm, Annie Gebhardt

Survivor Activist Award
 
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 of hope,

resiliency, and 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. 


Award Presentation:

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.