Every year on August 26, the anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment, our country recognizes Women’s Equality Day. This year, I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Shalanda Moten, whose passion is promoting equality through education.
Dr. Moten is an Assistant Professor in the College of Health, Human Services, and Science at Ashford University. A Doctor of Education in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Counselor Education and Supervision from Argosy University, a Master of Arts in Community Counseling from Argosy University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Spelman College have prepared Dr. Moten for a career as a scholarly practitioner within the fields of counseling and psychology. Her research interests include dating violence, date and acquaintance rape, human trafficking, and female genital mutilation.
As the Chairman of the Dating Violence Prevention Center, a nonprofit whose mission is to educate and empower communities to intervene, Dr. Moten says about her work: “My focus is going out into the community, and educating the public about interpersonal violence . . . I teach a curriculum called, ‘Love is Not Abuse.’ In that curriculum we go over things like the different types of abuse, warning signs, and developing a safety plan to minimize the risk of becoming a victim.”
Through her work as an educator, a counselor, and a researcher, Dr. Moten is doing her part to promote equality and stop sexual violence.
Using the Past to Shape the Future
When asked where her passion comes from, Dr. Moten’s answer is both simple and profound, “It comes from my own experience.” Dr. Moten is a survivor of dating violence and has used her own personal history as a source of inspiration. “That has been what has fueled me to go out and to do the things I do.”
She shares that, when she was a victim, the programs that are around today did not exist. “At that time, there weren’t the resources available to help people that there are today . . . I didn’t really have anyone that I could receive support from.”
Dr. Moten goes on to explain how a lack of resources in the past are helping her design the future of support. “A lot of the things that I do are in the areas that I felt were lacking at the time that I had my experience.”
While it is easy to understand how an experience like hers could inspire someone to work with victims of sexual assault, Dr. Moten’s sense of compassion is not limited to survivors. “I also work with perpetrators of interpersonal violence and try to help them develop alternative ways to communicate with their partner, rather than using violence.” Her desire to change lives is obvious through her efforts to support anyone interested in addressing issues of interpersonal violence.
Importance of Safety and Equality
The issue of sexual assault and prevention has garnered national attention in recent months, and according to Dr. Moten, this change is welcome. “There are more outlets and prevention initiatives that are encouraging people to speak out against sexual violence in particular.”
Dr. Moten accredited this national attention not only to an increase in prevention initiatives, but also a much-needed shift away from a victim-blaming mentality. “I think that a lot more people are seeing that victim blaming is not acceptable.” This shift away from victim blaming is important because it empowers victims and enables survivors to speak up, get help, and share their experience. Dr. Moten explains, “Being able to empower women and girls is very important. It makes them less vulnerable.”
When asked what resources she would recommend to students, Dr. Moten recommends nomore.org, which created this powerful video to explain the importance of standing up for equality.
Making a Difference
Dr. Moten is busy. “I’m an educator, I’m a researcher, and I’m a counselor. The individuals that I work with, it’s not enough to just educate them. It’s not enough to just put in policies around violence, sometimes people need to actually work through their experiences.” While these three roles keep Dr. Moten busy, it’s obvious that her passion and her work both benefit the people she works with and our community. “I work 80 hours a week, but I wouldn’t change it. I love it.”
Written by: Samuel Harvey Sam is the Content Specialist for the Office of Student Access and Wellness at Ashford University.