Empowered Voices, is an organization that strives to prevent sexual assault.by providing educational theatrical workshops for youth, military forces, professionals and more..
Empowered Voices is just a year old and could be the solution to prevent sexual-assault from happening within the workplace. Janine Divita and Stephanie Brooks are the founders behind this that strives to bring prevention education awareness into the workplace. Divita is a well-known figure in the Broadway world.
About a year and a half ago while on the If/Then tour, Divita happened to cross paths with Stephanie Brooks. Brooks is experienced mental health management professional, specializing in prevention and risk education. Brooks’s husband was an active service member in the military and the Broadway show had special arrangements for those serving in the military since the musical number focuses on military families.
Having a family member that served in the military gave Divita a soft-= spot for those serving for our country.
“We met for coffee and she [Stephanie Brooks] was telling me that she had come up with this idea to get theatrical prevention education into the military but the military was a little resistant because fear was a foreign thing and didn’t seem military appropriate.. But she thought bringing in a bubbly Broadway actress would help them get noticed” said Janine Divita.
The two worked with the sexual assault team at joint bases in Tacoma, Washington, and from the success of that they saw this as an opportunity to help other military institutions.
In its first year, Divita says Empowered Voices has helped 96 percent of their participants feel more empowered to stand up for themselves. .The workshops have participants act out scenarios and practice asking for consent and then have the participants provide alternative scenarios for how situations could go differently. “We just believe that the more you practice anything the better you get out of it. So we kind of view it that way with with sexual assault prevention,” said Divita.
Empowered Voices speaks to the bases’ sexual assault prevention teams to figure out what the target areas are for that particular base but also include as much as they can within the scripts.
“It happens in all different professions. It’s not isolated towards the military. The thing with the military is that it gets in the way of them being mission ready and that is that that is their goal.. To be mission ready,” said Divita.
The need for prevention education hits close to home with all of the allegations coming forward within the media.
“We’re both passionate about it… I don’t know a woman who hasn’t experienced some kind of sexual assault, unfortunately, in her lifetime. I think respecting boundaries is the overarching issue. With our type of training it’s beneficial,” said Janine Divita.