Former Lindenwood University professor Jennifer Lorentz approached our founder in October 2012 with an idea. She wanted to celebrate and empower sexual assault survivors during Lindenwood’s annual day of workshops, Sibley Day. She had the unique idea to utilize what sexual assault survivors knew best: their stories.
Sexual assault survivors would share their stories of assault on 20×30 foam boards and then, essentially, add a ‘but’ to the end of their story with a focus on all of their accomplishments, both “big” and “small”, effectively helping survivors to realize they are “still standing” no matter where they are on the journey to healing.
Over the course of the next four months before its debut Still Standing underwent the processes of creation and recreation several times before it was finally presented to the eyes of Lindenwood students, faculty, staff, and Saint Charles, Missouri community members.
Four months of creation, reformation, preparation, and nine courageous survivors later, Still Standing debuted the empowering stories of two men and seven women in the J. Scheidegger Center for Fine and Performing Arts on Lindenwood’s main campus. A mass of students, faculty, staff, and Saint Charles community members (and even a few of the participating survivors themselves) came to know the strength, perseverance, courage, and will behind every sexual assault survivor. It quickly became clear that our mission was not only accomplished, but needed.
Still Standing’s recognition began the day of its debut with those who came to view the survivor boards and news coverage by LUTV which aired on its TV channel that afternoon.
Two months later Still Standing participated in the Lindenwood Student Research Symposium and Exposition (SRSE) and received two awards: Second place in the Undergraduate Degree category for the School of Human Services, and the “People’s Choice Award” (voted on by those in attendance for best presentation).
Still Standing has gone on to participate in a student documentary, a student talk show, a tri-organization Sexual Assault Awareness Month event, and exhibited in multiple states, including at the National Sexual Assault Conference in Washington, D.C.
Currently our Facebook page has reached people in 150 countries outside the United States, and we have followers on Twitter from around the world, too!
At the start of 2015, Still Standing made a big move by adding new members to the team:
Brittany Estes, Social Media Director
Roy White, Web Developer
Kristine Irwin, Director of Communication
Nikki Wolvert-Feller, Director of Outreach
All of Still Standing’s members volunteer their time and talents because of their collective passion to help and belief in Still Standing’s mission. We’re looking forward to where our collective passions and talents will take us!
Still Standing is always working to better itself so that we can continue to celebrate and empower survivors. We are currently working towards the incorporation of Still Standing into a non-profit organization, increasing our recognition and participation, and working to partner and collaborate with other like-minded organizations.
Aeriel found her passion for celebrating and empowering sexual assault survivors when the idea for Still Standing was first pitched to her by former Lindenwood University professor Jennifer Lorentz in 2012. Since then she has worked to empower survivors using their stories. Aeriel was honored with two awards at the 2013 Lindenwood Student Research Symposium and Exposition, has been featured on LUTV and been the subject of other student journalism projects, and was featured in The Lindenwood EDGE booklet for her work while pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. She additionally played a part in the notable change of Lindenwood’s sexual harassment policy. Aeriel graduated from Lindenwood in the spring of 2015 and is continuing her education with a Master’s degree in Non-profit Administration. She plans to establish Still Standing as an official non-profit organization upon the completion of her Master’s degree.
“When Professor Lorentz pitched the idea of an event celebrating sexual assault survivors to me I knew I had to jump on board. Today’s society – though more aware than before – is still incredibly ignorant to the traumatic ills of sexual assault and the rape culture that makes surviving sexual assault another traumatic victimization in itself. Frankly, as a sexual assault survivor myself, I’m sick of it. It is time that survivors are seen as they should be: strong, resilient, courageous, determined, invaluable, important… the litany of words goes on. It is time – because survivors are those things – that survivors be celebrated and empowered instead of blamed and shamed into silence and shadows. It is time survivors are regarded as what they are versus the fallacies imposed on them by today’s society, and it is my personal mission to do my absolute best to make that happen.”
Brittany has her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Broadcasting from Lindenwood University. There she was heavily involved in the television station – both in front of and behind the cameras. While her ultimate goal was to become a World News Correspondent, her vision quickly changed after she did freelance work during the Ferguson Protests. Her self-awareness raised red flags concerning how obsessed she was becoming with having the story first, or having the best story, and saw how local and worldwide news stations were struggling with the same mentality. She decided she didn’t want to use the pain that others were feeling for personal gain and switched her career choice. She is determined to use her talents to help others instead.
“I met the founder, Aeriel, my freshman year of college and I fell in love with her kindness. I found out about her organization a year later, and I was so intrigued. God had always called me to help women who have been mentally, sexually, and physically abused, so to know someone who started a group for that was a true blessing. What inspired me most was Aeriel’s personal story. I was amazed at how her life could have been, but her strength didn’t allow her to feel any less than a queen. I knew I had to be involved with Still Standing, and I am so ecstatic to be working with the group!”
Nikki is an Account Manager at BackOffice for Social Services, a company that provides a range of services for human service organizations. She spends her days managing the accounting aspect of several foster agencies, so that the agencies can focus on the families they serve. In her spare time, she is an avid runner, loves to cook and will read almost anything.
“’I am not what happened to me, I am what I chose to become’” (Carl Gustav Jung) has become my life’s mantra. I am a survivor; I am not a rape victim. And as such, have been searching for a way to use what I have learned along this journey to make other women’s path easier. Then I found Still Standing and knew I was home. I am excited to begin this new chapter in my story and honored to be associated with Still Standing.
By day, Kristine is the Talent Acquisition Specialist for a container manufacturing company, where she recruits for all levels of employees at 7 facilities throughout the United States. By night, she is the Founder of Voices of Hope, an organization geared towards educating those who are looking to prevent sexual violence and supporting those who have experienced this type of violence in her city. Voices of Hope is still developing and Kristine hopes it will become a non-profit so that she can give back to organizations that have helped her throughout her healing process. In her free time, she loves spending time with her husband and son. She enjoys running, watching her favorite sports teams, and attending concerts.
“’You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.’ Genesis 50:20. My husband has always said, God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. It wasn’t until I began dating my husband, that I truly found my rock of support and I am now able to give 100% to other individuals experience sexual violence. When I found Standing Still, I knew I had to be part of this organization and movement. I knew that what I learned throughout my healing process, which I am still healing, could be beneficial to others. I am so thrilled and privileged to be on board with Standing Still and looking forward to what the future holds.”
Roy is the husband of founder, Aeriel White. He attended Lindenwood University to study Criminal Justice and Journalism for two years before receiving training at the Recruit Training Command for the Navy. After being separated for medical reasons, he now lives at home with his wife and is a freelance web designer.
“When I initially met Aeriel, she explained Still Standing to me. I immediately fell in love with her passion and the very idea of Still Standing itself. I always enjoyed that she would share so much about Still Standing with me! Eventually, we both fell in love and got married so now I love to help my wife with anything and everything involving what she has worked so hard for, Still Standing.”