Jo Keogh has been utilizing somatic approaches to treat female trauma survivors since 2014. She is currently completing her internship in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Anna Haven Behavioral Health services, where she specializes in treating adult survivors of child sexual abuse, sexual assault, rape, and domestic violence. Jo’s primary interests include working toward intersectional equity in women’s mental health treatment and evaluating the ways in which individual experiences with trauma and attachment affect societal functioning. Jo is a founding member of both the CT Coalition to End FGM/C and the Guilford Human Rights Commission. She is also a member of Connecticut’s Shoreline Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Taskforce, the Connecticut Counseling Association’s Public Policy and Legislative Committee, and the Connecticut-based Trauma and Gender Learning Collaborative.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I am a mental health professional who specializes in treating women’s trauma. My areas of expertise include sexual assault, rape, child sexual abuse, and domestic violence. I strongly believe that trauma is best addressed through a two-pronged approach of providing individual treatment and addressing systemic and intersectional inequity.
When did you first get involved with Sahiyo and what opportunities have you been involved in?
I first became aware of Sahiyo in 2020, when I reached out to Mariya Taher for help with criminalizing FGM/C in Connecticut. I was immediately impressed with her ability to raise awareness around this critically important – and often ignored – issue. The resources and experience that Sahiyo has been able to bring to the table have been gamechangers: the Voices videos have been a particularly potent way to connect the abstract idea of what FGM/C is with the reality of survivor stories.
How has your involvement impacted your life?
Working to find holistic solutions to ending FGM/C has been an incredibly rewarding journey for me. The women dedicated to irradicating this practice are each powerful role models in their own right: intelligent, courageous, warm, and supportive. Working with the women of Sahiyo has helped me to understand the kind of person I want to be in the world.
What pieces of wisdom would you share with new volunteers or community members who are interested in supporting Sahiyo?
Many people are passionate about a variety of issues that impact women’s equality, from reproductive health to domestic violence. Yet FGM/C tends to be left out these conversations. To me, advocating for women means becoming educated around all of the ways that women are harmed, and then doing whatever we can to prevent those harms from occurring. Sahiyo is doing meaningful, survivor-led work around FGM/C, and is changing the lives of women and girls all over the world. Come join us!