The Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center unveiled its new name, Standing Together to End Sexual Assault (STESA), Saturday evening during its 10th annual Chocolate de Vine fundraiser. The new name reflects the different kinds of experience sexual assault survivors endure and to ensure that survivors feel welcomed, according to Executive Director Elsa Granados. Over the years, survivors and supporters have told the agency that the words “rape” and “crisis” did not make them feel welcomed, Granados said. Oftentimes, survivors who have not been raped but who have experienced some form of sexual violence are unsure if the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center is the appropriate place to seek help. “So what we say to them is, ‘Of course you belong here.’” Granados said.
The rebranding process took two years. A volunteer committee conducted research and surveyed both supporters of the agency and community members unfamiliar with its services to make sure the new name resonated. STESA’s new logo also intends to reflect its mission of welcoming all survivors and their supporters, regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation, or ability. Granados said people often saw the face of a woman in the agency’s old logo, which can often deter men who are survivors of sexual assault. “We want to make sure that we welcome men who are survivors of sexual assault as well as men who are significant others of survivors of sexual assault,” Granados said.
Christian Sierra, STESA’s community education coordinator, said people often regard sexual assault as a women’s issue. As the first male in his position, Sierra said he could potentially be a role model to younger men. “That’s why when I heard ‘standing together’ [in the new name], I loved that,” Sierra said. “There’s no identity behind that. There’s no gender associated with that. It’s all of us standing together to end sexual assault.”