We’re proud to celebrate the people who serve and connect our incredible community. Each month, we interview a different member of Resilience to hear more about the work they’re doing to empower survivors and end sexual violence. This month, we’re shining a spotlight on Jillian Furey, a Resilience Associate Board member, survivor, and former Resilience client. Read our interview to hear from Jillian about her healing journey, getting involved with Resilience, and the upcoming Empowerment 5K. 

Read our interview with Jillian below.

How and when did you get involved with Resilience?

I just joined the Associate Board recently. I ended up joining the Associate Board because I was actually a survivor of sexual assault and I received hospital assistance from Resilience. The services that I got from Resilience were just incredible. That’s how I got connected with them. 

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.  What is one thing you wish more people knew about mental health as it pertains to survivors?

There are so many things. I feel like the biggest thing that I wish that more people knew is that there’s going to be a day when what happened to you isn’t going to feel so heavy and scary and isolating. The thing is, I don’t know if that’s true for everyone, but I know that it is for me because of the help that I got from Resilience. If Resilience wasn’t at that hospital, honestly I could have very easily just walked back to my apartment and just not told anybody and not done anything about it. I was just in such a state of shock. To have an Advocate there and have somebody there to protect you, it’s so unreal. 

What do I want more people to know? I wish that more people knew about Resilience’s services. I wish that funding wasn’t being cut. Something else I want people to know, and I would want myself to know, is the way that I felt after I got attacked is not how I feel today. You will heal from this and you will move on from this, and it’s not going to be this scar on you for the rest of your life. And you can have sex again, and you can have good experiences again! And this isn’t going to define the rest of your life or your relationships, or who you are as a person, it’s just a piece of it. 

The Associate Board is hosting the second Empowerment 5K next month on June 10. Can you tell us a bit about this event?

It’s going to be a walk, roll, and run. So it’s accessible to all people, whether you want to run,  whether you want to walk, you are welcome to come and join us and raise money. I think that one of the most important things especially now that we’ve seen this cut in funding for Resilience and in general is that we need more funding to be able to access more people, especially in under-resourced communities on the south and west side. So it’s really important to show up and raise funds. 

Why is getting involved or giving back to organizations like Resilience important in your opinion?

Giving back is so important to me because the first thing that came to my mind after the dust settled after my assault, is that I realized if I didn’t get the services that I received from Resilience, I really don’t know what would have happened to me. Then it clicked, that there are so many people with my story. It was a random attack. And so I ended up getting hospitalized and getting care from there. But most survivors are assaulted by people that they know. There are so many different dynamics that come into play. It horrifies me to think about other people out there that didn’t get the help that I got. I really don’t know how I would have survived it on my own. It’s literally horrifying that people go to hospitals and don’t have an advocate. I’m a social worker. When you look at what happens to Black trans women who often experience the highest rates of attack and assault, they get told that they’re crazy.  It’s so important that we have a network for individuals that have experienced sexual assault to get the resources that they need, to have an advocate, and have someone that’s able to protect them from the ways that our system fails people. 

What are your hopes for the future of the Resilience Associate Board? What is something that the Associate Board is looking forward to in the next year?

With the Associate Board, I hope we see and promote more engagement and awareness of Resilience, not just to potential funders, but also to people in the community who might need some of the resources. From my viewpoint, I’d like to really amplify the work that Resilience does and bring awareness to it. 

One thing we are looking forward to in May is the Drag Bingo event which should be super fun. There’s also the Empowerment 5K. There are a few other events coming up that I think everyone’s really excited just to come together in community and try to raise more funds.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I love thrift shopping. I love my two dogs, Mushu and Darla. I got them in college and we’ve moved to four different apartments together and driven across the country together, from New Hampshire to Chicago. I’m from Maryland outside of Baltimore. I worked in refugee resettlement before I went for my Master’s degree. And I have a bunch of plants.