Throughout this year, we will be highlighting individuals or groups that have impacted our work over the last 50 years.
Former POV Counselor Advocate
I first heard about Peace Over Violence as a UCLA student. I was impressed by the holistic range of services offered, particularly the Women's Self-Defense program. POV was making classes accessible to the community free of cost, and they were being taught by women sensitive to the particular needs of survivors of sexual violence. As a survivor of child sexual abuse, I very much appriciated this trauma-informed approch and was highly motivated to start volunteering. It was my way of staying engaged in the fight to combat sexual and other forms of relationship violence after my graduation from UCLA.
I first signed up for Crisis Counselor Advocate Training in 2008. A few months after that I was able to go through the Women's Self-Defense Instructor Training, and then I was invited to become a trainer of other crisis counselor advocates, and also a member of the Survivor Speaker’s Bureau. I wasn't just going through all of these trainings. I was actively participating, not to mention showing up to volunteer at any other occasion I could - like at the POV annual awards event, participating in and volunteering at various Denim Day events, etc. I was at POV so often, my mom actually started telling people I worked at POV :).
I remember at one of our monthly crisis counselor advocate in-service trainings, Yvette (the POV Intervention Department head at the time), asked us to share what kept us motivated to keep volunteering on the Crisis Hotline despite the challenges we faced in the work. And for me the answer was very clear. I experienced so many benefits! It helped me practice and grow in my capacity to be compassionately present during moments of crisis. It was helping me become a better and more courageous communicator. I could see myself making a positive difference in hundreds of lives. And I think my favorite part was that I found the best friends I ever had in my life at POV. My POV friends cared about the issues that I cared about, they cared about me, and they didn't run away or become overwhelmed when I needed to talk to them about difficult things.
All the time I spent volunteering at POV helped me to grow from a victim to a survivor to a thriver over violence. It gave me the courage and the capacity to revisit and recommit to the dream I had while I was a student in UCLA, which was to start my own organization to help people learn how to take control of their mental and emotional wellbeing and thereby eliminate suffering from their lives. In 2012 I founded www.AcademyOfThriving.com with that very mission and purpose. And I've been serving as the CEO and resident Happiness Expert at The Academy Of Thriving since.
In 2017, I published my first book, "Make Change Fun And Easy: How to Create Inner Peace to World Peace In 3 Simple Steps." 50% of all profits from the sale of my book go to support the work of Peace Over Violence. It is thanks to Peace Over Violence that I’ve been able to transform into a Voice Over Violence. I learned to speak openly and honestly about the injustice and trauma of being a survivor of child sexual abuse, and do so in a way that educates and heals, a way that exposes injustice with compassion, a way that truly allows me to be Samia Over Violence. Without this learning, I couldn’t have written this book. And I’m grateful beyond what words can express for the empowering and healing presence that Peace Over Violence is in our community and in my life.