Meet Zoe: Your Teen Healthy Relationships Coordinator

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Meet Zoe S

We sat down at our round table with our fearless leader of the peer leaders, to talk about relationships, school, work, and everything in between.

Teens: How did you get into this line of work [domestic violence education and prevention] ?

Zoe: I got my start at Elon University where I studied Human Services Studies with a focus on relationship & family counseling. I was exposed to so much during that experience - between volunteer opportunities, community interactions, classes, research and internships I really immersed myself in everything I could possibly learn in four years. I helped to research and create a couple different programs and curriculums and found it was a line of work I really loved! When I moved back to Boston I started at a DV agency in Somerville running their community DV program and teaching healthy relationships education - and it just stuck! Now I’m here at FCR and couldn’t be happier!

Teens: Whats your biggest struggle working with teens like us on a topic like this?

Zoe: I think the toughest part is respecting that everyone comes from different backgrounds and levels of experience - for example what you have been taught to recognize as signs of an “unhealthy” relationship may be different than signs that another peer leader has been taught from their own experience, and how do we take those prior experiences and lessons respectfully into account, while still teaching you the ways to keep you safe.

Teens: Have you ever been in an abusive relationship yourself?

Zoe: Yes actually, in full honesty, I’ve been in two. One was physically and verbally abusive, and the other was mentally and emotionally abusive. Both were draining and harmful in their own way - and both taught me a lot about love, trust, and myself. My physically abusive relationship was when I was in college, I would argue that he was my first love - so it made the whole experience a lot more confusing. The second relationship was shortly after I graduated and moved home, and was having a tough time figuring out who I was and where I was going, but I am thankful to say that I managed to safely leave both relationships with the help of an incredible support system.

Teens: Do you feel like those experiences impact your work?

Zoe: I would say, honestly, it just gives me an even deeper motivation and sense of empathy to those that I work with. It fuels and challenges me in a way, because I know what I went through allows me to teach you all from a much deeper sense of understanding. It doesn’t at all mean that my experience was “the way things should be” or “a lesson to teach you from” but it just shapes my perspective, and it motivates me to truly support and educate every one of you.

Teens: What is the greatest lesson that this job has taught you?

Zoe: Probably that society doesn’t give teenagers enough credit! You all are some of the most intelligent, resilient, flexible and interesting young people that I have ever met. You balance so much and always come into programming ready to work and learn which I appreciate.

Teens: What do you expect from us, your peer leaders, as we go through this program?

Zoe: I think just to keep an open mind, and to stay curious! There truly is no bad question, or bad conversation so just keep talking to me and I will teach you truly as much as I possibly can! This topic is sensitive only because it has been so deeply stigmatized, and it takes smart, inquisitive young people like you all to start to change that.

Teens: What happens after we finish the program, what’s next?

Zoe: Well, the hope is that you take what you have learned here and teach it to others! Our program runs on a “peer leader based model" so the next time you see a friend or a community member struggling with dating violence or unhealthy relationships you can work with them the way that I’ve worked with you.

Teens: When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up? Is this what you’ve always wanted to do?

Zoe: I’m pretty sure that in kindergarten I was determined to be a ballerina, but aside from that, yes! I’ve always loved helping others and I’ve always known that I wanted to be a counselor who worked with young people. I think the only other option I wanted when I was younger was to be a ballerina

Teens: You’ve been talking to us a lot about “self care” - what is something you do for your own self care when you aren’t dealing with us?

Zoe: I love to cook and bake, take walks, read, and spend time with my friends! I’m a huge fan of anything having to do with the ocean, and I’m always trying to explore new towns and places in New England.

Zoe Sachs