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Ambassador Alex Gordillo

Alex Gordillo

Alex Gordillo


“The day of the Boston Marathon Bombing made me think about how destabilizing it must be to be hurt by someone you love and, especially, by someone who claims to love you. The sense of shock and betrayal I felt from the bombings, for me, were moments of empathy with many of the survivors I had worked with.”

April 15, 2013 remains a day Americans around the country remember vividly for its tragic ending to the Boston Marathon. At the time of the now historic bombings, Alex Gordillo was working in a domestic violence shelter offering advocacy and support to residents. As the country watched the coverage and resulting investigation, Gordillo was overcome with a sense of being overwhelmed - something that many experienced as a result of the tragedy that took place. His sense of shock and betrayal was reflective of what it must be for someone to be hurt by someone they love who also claims to love them. Of the experience, Gordillo says, “For me it was a moment of empathy with many of the survivors I had worked with.”

Alex Gordillo Through his work, Gordillo has developed a personal connection to ending violence against women and believes we all have the power to heal. His interest in social justice began as a teenager, interning for a domestic violence advocacy group called Peace at Home. Since then, Gordillo has worked with victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence. He has become intentional about seeking to educate himself, as well as others, about these issues. “While there are many forms of violence where women are not the victims, violence against women is a good place to start that conversation,” says Gordillo.

A close friend of Gordillo’s once joked that he, himself, must be a victim. “My response was that regardless of whether I was a victim or not, all of us should work to make the world a safer place.” In his work as an educator, Gordillo emphasized that people need to stop thinking about domestic violence as a “women’s issue” and begin to understand that most of the violence in the world is committed by men. “We need to recondition ourselves so that our actions express not hate, nor fear, but love. To me, that is an ongoing process.” Gordillo has spoken to many different types of audiences in schools, colleges, and community organizations through his work; and has found young people to be receptive to this message. “I think there is fresh energy happening in the colleges nationally and I applaud that. There’s work happening across the globe, as well,” says Gordillo.

Gordillo believes in cultivating an environment where men can freely and openly be themselves. He states, “We have to create spaces where men can be ourselves without it necessarily having to be over football and beer.” He has seen this in local men’s groups where men can speak frankly about their life, their struggles, and dreams. In these safe spaces, issues that lead to violence can be addressed in a proactive and productive way. “I remember hearing a young brother share his story which was full of traumatic instances. As an adult, he began to emulate some of these same violent behaviors he had seen as a child.” Through intervention and really an open mind on his end, the man experienced a transformation. Eventually, his own growth as a man allowed him to challenge other men committing violence against their girlfriends, wives, etc.

Gordillo believes the feminist framework must be informed by the intersectional climate of violence. He encourages us to broaden the conversation and connect the dots about the way this issue connects to other social issues. He explains, “I don’t buy the idea that we are biologically predisposed towards violence. We also need to make a connection to how we socialize boys to play with guns and emulate war. I think colonialism, world slavery, and police brutality – to name a few – are connected to gender-based violence because, in each, one person seeks to dehumanize another. Dehumanization makes this violence possible. It also allows us to look the other way as well. So for me the question is, what kind of a revolution do we need in our hearts that allow us to see other human beings as just that, human, and act out of love and kindness rather than fear, anger, and hate? I like poet Gil Scott Heron’s notion that “the revolution will not be televised” which really means that the transformation that can happen to us isn’t something on TV or Facebook. It begins in our hearts and therefore at home, in private. Of course, it then translates to meaningful action.”