Episode 176

How Storytelling Can Transform Awareness

It’s 2017, and I’m meeting with our TEDxSantaBarbara team, preparing to plan our next year’s TEDx event. As we start discussing the hundreds of speaker applications we’ve received, it feels incredibly hard to narrow down our selections with so many wonderful candidates. That’s when it hits me.

What if we focus on the idea first and the person second? In other words, what if we identify the most important and urgent ideas we want to cover and then consider all the applications, recommendations, and research to find the strongest person with subject matter expertise in that area?

Our team loves this approach, and we immediately engage in healthy dialogue, even debate, about which ideas our world and our community need the most right now. One of the ideas that rises to the top of the list unanimously is human trafficking.

Fast forward many months later, the speaker we choose delivers an incredible Talk, not only highlighting the issue of human trafficking but also discussing actionable solutions. And now her TEDxSantaBarbara Talk has earned over 400,000 views and counting. This means more than just a number; it signifies that by sharing her Idea Worth Spreading, she has initiated change on a global scale. This means change in awareness, change in mindset, and change in action. 

My special guest today is that very same speaker. Megan Rheinschild is Director of the Victim Assistance Program at the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office and directs the Countywide Sexual Assault Response Team, which provides medical-legal forensic exams and advocacy to survivors of human trafficking, child abuse, and sexual assault. In this episode of the Storytelling School Podcast, we’ll explore the issue of human trafficking and the power of storytelling in raising awareness and creating change and get answers to questions such as:

What are some common misconceptions of human trafficking? How can storytelling foster empathy and understanding? And what can the average person do to make a difference? 

What you will learn in this episode:

  • How human trafficking can occur in any community or city
  • Why it’s difficult to break free from exploitation when trafficking victims form a bond with their traffickers
  • How storytelling is a powerful tool in raising awareness and creating empathy
  • How we can make a difference by providing love, acceptance, and support to vulnerable individuals

Who is Megan Rheinschild?

Megan Rheinschild serves as the Director of the Victim Assistance Program at the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office. In this role, she oversees a countywide initiative that delivers comprehensive services, support, and advocacy for victims of violent crime and their families.

Ms. Rheinschild has been instrumental in forming the Human Trafficking Victim Advocacy Program and establishing the multi-agency Countywide Human Trafficking Task Force in 2013. This task force aims to identify and investigate human trafficking cases and address the complex needs of survivors through collaborative efforts with local, regional, and state partners.

Additionally, she directs the Countywide Sexual Assault Response Team, a partnership involving Law Enforcement, Public Health, Rape Crisis Centers, and Child Welfare Services. This team provides medical-legal forensic exams and advocacy to survivors of human trafficking, child abuse, and sexual assault.

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