Hannah Lipstein '17 Receives Future Leaders Award for Her Efforts to End Partner Abuse

May 17, 2016
Hannah Lipstein '17 Receives Future Leaders Award

Hannah Lipstein '17 has received the Future Leaders Award from the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA). The award honors a student who has demonstrated exceptional leadership and dedication in working with victims of crime and promoting change to reduce violence.

In her acceptance speech at MOVA's 2016 Victims Rights Conference, held at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston, Lipstein emphasized the importance of working within marginalized communities and breaking down the stigma and silence that shrouds non-normative experiences of partner abuse and sexualized violence. "I know how much of a difference it makes to have a young person speaking to other young people about violence in LGBQT communities and the issues that affect us," she said to the audience, which included Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and Liam Lowney, executive director of MOVA.

Lipstein, who grew up in Suffern, N.Y., began her antiviolence work in high school with a group called Student Activists Ending Dating Abuse (SAEDA). After completing a week-long SAEDA training course on oppression and violence, she became a student facilitator, then led biannual training courses for fellow students and taught three-day workshops in high-school health classes about gender roles, consent, rape culture, dating abuse, and sexualized violence.

At Wellesley, she joined the student organization Sexual Assault Awareness for Everyone (SAAFE) in her first semester and has been involved ever since; she will serve her second term as president next semester. Lipstein, a women and gender studies (WGST) major with a minor in health and society, said she was drawn to Wellesley because of the activist spirit and level of political engagement that is endemic to life on campus. She said her course work and support from the WGST department have been instrumental to her growth as a leader.

In spring 2015, Lipstein won the WGST Summer Internship Award, which provides financial support for student internships that involve gender and social change. Her experience, which included answering hotline calls, coordinating the safehome program, and working as an advocate at the Boston-based nonprofit The Network/La Red, formed the basis of her Tanner Conference presentation about the critical need to integrate survivor-centered and community focused anti-oppression principles into antiviolence work.

"There is often a tendency to think of a singular, victimized subject when we think of violence, which doesn't account for the infinite array of experiences that people have with violence, and the incredible amount of agency that each survivor shows," she said.

Lipstein, who continues to volunteer at The Network/La Red, further developed her leadership skills by taking the course "Transnational Feminisms" last fall. Taught by Jennifer Musto, assistant professor of women's and gender studies, the course focuses on local and transnational efforts to advance sexual justice and ameliorate gendered violence, among other topics. Lipstein also worked with Musto on a research paper comparing ways to conceptualize and address domestic violence.

Musto, who nominated Lipstein for the MOVA award, said that what distinguishes her is "her recognition that an intersectional understanding of gender, sexuality, race, and class is needed to effectively work with individuals and communities that have experienced violence."

As part of her award, Lipstein was invited to attend the Victims Rights Conference. She said it was an honor to be in the company of so many advocates and activists working to end violence in Massachusetts. "Antiviolence work can at times feel overwhelming, so it is especially energizing and inspiring to see what others are doing and to realize how many people are committed to this task and how many different strategies are being employed," she said.