Cara Starns comes from our National Chapter as former Grant and Blog Manager. She’s worked behind the scenes to share our mission via words and good grammar, but has also spent time on the front-lines by working in the Central Kentucky safe-house. Cara volunteers with our partner organization, Natalie’s Sisters. She started out in the clubs and now helps to administrate their Jail Team. She’s thrice worked overseas with students and victims and is now looking to return to this line of work by launching Refuge for Women in Louisville, KY.
Tell us, what’s the plan?
“In regards to the chapter, we are looking to launch this coming year. There has been some really fabulous groundwork laid by the brilliant Bridgette Finley. I’ll actually be the first City Director to launch a Refuge for Women by leading in with a prevention program, called Raise the Standard. The idea is to reach middle and high-school youth across various venues, including schools, youth groups, juvenile detention centers, sports teams, and the like. Kentucky has an issue with Human Trafficking, and when it comes to teens, online predators are becoming a real threat. The goal is simple; to keep students safe. We want to help youth identify vulnerabilities that could lead them into sexual exploitation, abuse, and trafficking.”
When did student prevention become an important cause to you?
“Last year there was a night at the safe house when a new resident said to me, ‘Today in class I learned I had a pimp. I never knew that, I never knew he was my trafficker. I just thought he was my boyfriend.’ This was a 30-something year old woman who had been in manipulative and abusive relationships since childhood. By the time she was a trafficking victim, the difference was unrecognizable to her. That moment shocked my system. Looking at her, I wished we’d been there, in her school, to intercede before that point.”
What do you want students to know?
“My intention is not merely to talk about what to do and what not to do. I want to go deeper than that. Your heart is the bedrock. Society is teaching us to value sexuality before the mind, heart or spirit. If someone is vying for your sexuality before your intellect, emotionality or spirituality, we should take that as an offense. The program uses a video curriculum called ‘Rewire’ because that is precisely what we’re trying to do. We hope to rewire the way we value ourselves, others, and society’s influence.”
More about Raise the Standard:
The program is offered in partnership with Refuge for Women and Raise the Standard. Raise the Standard has already reached every middle and high-school in Fayette county via their presentations of safe sex and safe relationships. Now, this partnership hones in on Refuge for Women’s experience to prevent students from becoming trafficked or preyed online. The collaboration was launched in Lexington in August, and will now expand to Louisville.