Surviving and escaping domestic abuse demands an incredible strength and reliance on community; the effort is nothing short of titanic. Recovering is no less a feat. But what comes next?
Kristen Faith started Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence in late 2011, while she was earning her bachelor’s degree in journalism at San Diego State University. She was 22 years old.
The nonprofit’s mission is to provide support and resources for survivors, connect them to each other, and help give survivors and the families of survivors support to plan for the future.
“It’s taking that next step and creating a vision for your life,” says Faith. “Does that mean learning to be a public speaker? A better parent? Healing a new trauma within your family?”
Faith herself has made the transition from victim to survivor to advocate. She’s able to offer unique, first-hand knowledge to help other survivors.
“Kristen, through her excellent leadership, heart and tenacity, has helped the multitudes in overcoming abuse and gaining HOPE for a better life,” wrote Doris Rivera-Black, BTSADV board member, in her nomination. “I have personally been one of those people and will forever be grateful for it.”
Faith and her husband, Army veteran TerryJosiah Sharpe, moved to the Springs in late 2017, but they had ties to the community already. BTSADV has a partnership with Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center, which Faith and her team use to ensure veterans and active duty service members have access to their services.
“Creating that connection … was very important to us, and to me on a personal level, because my husband is a veteran,” she says. “There’s a giant need to support veterans and active duty and families, because they aren’t exempt from domestic violence. … There isn’t enough support for people who are affected by abuse.”
She’s also started a new company, Kristen Faith LLC, to share what she’s learned while growing BTSADV from a Facebook page into a national organization. Through her new company, she aims to help clients start nonprofits, become public speakers or dedicate their time to advocacy for those in need.
“Being able to offer this kind of support to people, it’s going to be game-changing — not just to me, but to thousands of people around the world who are ready to take the next step in their life,” she says.
Despite the scale of her work and ambitions, Faith stays grounded and works with her peers and volunteers directly. Rivera-Black emphasizes Faith’s commitment to servant leadership and improving not only herself but those around her. BTSADV blog associate Jamey Sheesley says that, despite the volunteer team’s nationwide reach, Faith puts in the effort to know everyone putting their time and effort into her cause.
“Usually the CEOs are unreachable for the volunteers who serve their nonprofit,” says Sheesley. “Kristen not only takes it upon herself to get to know all of her volunteers but she helps [us] to continually grow and become better versions of ourselves.”