Meet the director

Written by: Hannah Field | News Editor

Content warning: this article includes mentions of assault and violence

Kristen Perry has her dream job.

Her first time applying for Director of Abby’s House at Western, Perry didn’t get the position — derailing her career path, although only temporarily. After graduating from Western, she experimented with other positions, jobs she loved and couldn’t keep, but found herself back in Monmouth. It was what she truly wanted to do — and maybe that’s why six months later, the position opened, as if it was waiting for her.

Since November 2021, Perry has been the Director of Abby’s House.

“In a way, I don’t like the title,” explained Perry sheepishly. “It’s like, oh, I’m talking to the most important person at Abby’s House — and that’s not necessarily true.”

What is true, however, is the very real existence of Abby’s House advocacy.

Perry is a confidential advocate — which, she stresses, is not the same as a therapist. The title, supported by a lengthy training program, allows for Perry to speak with individuals about a vast range of topics — often centering on trauma — and she cannot share that information with anyone else.

“I myself have experienced sexual assault and I experienced that while I was in college, which is why I got involved,” said Perry. “I get to work with survivors who are at their lowest. And I get to help bring them up — lift them up, mentor them — and also help them work through their trauma. I feel very special and very honored that people feel comfortable telling me their stories.”

Abby’s House represents a comfortable, open space — a sentiment Perry has promoted in the seemingly smallest of choices, like the decision to find a new name.

“Abby’s House, the Center for Equity and Gender Justice — nobody knows what Abby’s House means … that (it) doesn’t portray everything we encompass,” said Perry. After multiple name changes in the past, Perry’s on the hunt for an acronym that will better suit all of Abby’s House’s purposes. Some examples of which include internships, basic needs, safety training, violence prevention, providing resources and more.

The Abby’s House website will be updated to be easier on the eyes and more accurate. Abby’s House will also grow to encompass the Stonewall Center in the fall.

“I just want people to know we are truly here for everyone,” said Perry. “We will do the extra research. We will provide any extra resources.”

Perry has made it clear that she won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

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