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Answering The Call: A Summer on A Rape Crisis Hotline


Before she could start her job as a hotline intern at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, Katherine Barnes ’20 was required to take 40 hours of training, and even so, the work wasn’t easy. But the experience was profound, and it revealed a range of post-college career possibilities to Barnes, who majors in women’s and gender studies and minors in Africana studies. Here are some of her thoughts on the internship, which was funded through Hamilton’s Career Center.    

What was the most challenging part of your experience?

Definitely working the hotline, just getting on the phone with people and trying to figure out the best way to help this person in the 30 or 45 minutes that we’re on the phone. And also dealing with really challenging calls —  all rape crisis counselors in Massachusetts are mandated reporters, and so working through that and figuring out that landscape. And really being on your toes, because you never know what kind of call you’re going to get. And being comfortable talking to a stranger and knowing their deepest, darkest fears and traumas.

about Katherine Barnes '20

Major: Women's and Gender Studies

Minor: Africana Studies

Hometown: Chelsea, Mass.

High School: Chelsea High School

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Compared to your academic experience overall, how significant was this summer experience for you?

I think I got to take a lot of what I’ve been learning in the classroom and what I’ve been talking about and put it into real-life application and really see how gender and class and race intersect and how all of these things can impact people. And to engage with a lot of the things that you talk about in women and gender studies classes — talking to the people in the military about sexual violence, talking to prisoners about sexual violence, and really connecting on those issues that you can read a thousand articles about and you can debate about in class…, which I think was really incredible, and truly helpful for me.

So you are glad you did this?

Yeah. It was honestly the best experience I’ve ever had with an internship, and I’ll be going back during winter break to volunteer on the hotline, and next summer when I’m home I'll be volunteering on the hotline. And I’m still in contact with everyone, all the other interns, some of the people that worked there that I made connections with, and it was really a transformative kind of internship.  

I don’t know (yet) what I’m going to do after Hamilton, and I’m graduating in a year, but it really influenced, I think, my idea of what you can do with a degree with all of the different pathways that everyone took to get to BARCC (Boston Area Rape Crisis Center).

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