Congratulations to Forrest Seymour who is the 2014 recipient of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center Visionary Voice Award. This honor recognizes the creativity and hard work of one individual per state who has demonstrated outstanding advocacy and community work to end or prevent sexual violence.
Forrest Seymour is a social worker, psychotherapist and violence prevention specialist. He has worked in community based programs, hospitals, schools and colleges supporting individual and institutional efforts to prevent sexual violence and promote emotional and community health since the mid-'70s. He has consulted with State Department International Visitor Groups and serves on the Cheshire County (NH) Domestic Violence Council, the New Hampshire Violence Against Women Campus Consortium and the steering committee of the Association for University and College Counseling Center Outreach. Since 2006, Forrest has been at Keene State College (NH) where he is Coordinator of Sexual Violence Prevention & Education.
In his position Forrest has been a champion of sexual violence prevention efforts at Keene State College. In 2009, thanks largely to his vision and advocacy, Keene State began instituting a sexual violence prevention program called No Zebras, No Excuses, required for students as part of their new student orientation. In 2012, he helped the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) student educators introduce a new, optional program as part of the orientation schedule. In its first session it drew nearly 400 students (almost HALF the total new student population!) MVP now also works with all athletic teams on campus; a first since the group was created in 2006.
Forrest is a true example of how men can join in the work to end gender-based violence. He is cognizant of the privilege afforded him based on his gender and is sensitive of this when working with students, including the all-female cast of the Keene State College Vagina Monologues, who in 2012 honored him as a ‘Vagina Warrior’ at their annual show. In 2012, Forrest, along with two other male students, attended the Healthy Masculinity Summit in Washington, D.C. Forrest has provided guidance to these young men in coordinating listening sessions on campus about healthy masculinity and the connection to ending sexual violence.
Forrest also serves as the coordinator for Keene State College’s involvement in Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention’s annual fundraiser and awareness event, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes: The International Men’s March to End Rape, Sexual Assault and Gender Violence. Forrest’s leadership has helped bring together a group of no less than ten students who meet weekly, September to April, to make events like Walk a Mile and other sexual violence awareness activities a successful part of the Keene State Campus Community. He has been instrumental in getting additional support for sexual violence prevention from other Keene State College staff members who interact with a variety of student groups.
According to Forrest, he counts amongst his inspirations:
The many men I’ve collaborated with locally, nationally and internationally who seek in so many creative ways to end men's violence. Most inspiring are the male and female students at Keene State College who step up as Mentors in Violence Prevention peer educators, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes march organizers, Shout Out Against Sexual Assault speakers and witnesses, Take Back the Night marchers, "Vagina Monologues" and "No Zebras, No Excuses" performers, and as violence prevention activists in countless large and small ways every year and every day. These students are victims, survivors, allies and active-bystanders; they are leaders, role models and inspirations for their peers, for their faculty and staff, and for me. They are the true Visionary Voices."