Sunday, September 6, 2015

Robert Uttaro, rape counselor and author, giving hope to survivors

I love Italian food and so does my guest, so I'm serving up chicken parmesan and a fresh romaine salad from my garden while I interrogate this cutie. LOL.

Robert Uttaro currently resides in Boston, Massachusetts and is in his eighth year of working as a rape crisis counselor, public speaker and community educator. Inspired by his undergraduate studies in Criminal Justice, Robert continues to embrace a life-long commitment to activism and advocacy for survivors of sexual violence. Robert supports rape survivors and their significant others through various health, legal, and case management issues. He also facilitates workshops aimed at education, prevention and exposure of the realities of sexual violence. He has written a powerful book titled To the Survivors.

Robert, first of all, welcome to my home. Grab a plate and some sweet Southern iced tea and let's sit on the deck.

Cool! I'm hungry and this looks delicious.

(After we settle  and have a few bites of food, I begin the interview):

Your background is very interesting. Give readers a short synopsis of your first published book. 

To the Survivors is a deeply-moving book about my journey as a rape crisis counselor with true stories of sexual violence shared by survivors. The survivors are diverse in age, gender, and ethnicity, yet each gives a similarly raw and heartfelt account of his or her victimization and recovery. The authenticity and vulnerability with which survivors speak resonates profoundly. Messages within To the Survivors are very hopeful -- to the pleasant surprise of many readers -- and I am humbled to find it continues to positively affect people’s hearts and minds.

I am so glad to know that the book offers hope. We need to get the word out and I hope everyone who reads this blog will pass on the information to anyone who needs it.

What challenges did you face while writing this book? 

I faced many challenges while writing this book, including sometimes struggling to find the right words to use, or struggling to bring myself to write at all. My biggest challenge was fighting my own insecurities around my abilities to write well about such a deeply serious topic. Thankfully, I managed to overcome all of these challenges by being patient with the process, continuing to write, and praying my way through it all.

That's probably the best response I've ever had with this question.

Now that you've been through the process, what advice can you give other new writers? 

The greatest lesson I have learned about writing is that our words can meaningfully connect with and impact people in positive ways. My advice to other writers is this: write, write, and write some more. It is imperative to not be nervous, to not fear anything, and to fight through whatever blockage one may have. Also, write from your heart. Believe in yourself and your abilities, and don't stop writing if you have the desire to write.

Great advice! It's obvious that you're writing from the heart.

We all know how important promoting our work has become. How do you get the word out both off and online? 

I get the word out about To the Survivors and issues connected to sexual assault by teaching at high schools and colleges and by spreading the word in conversations in my daily life. Word of mouth is truly a powerful vehicle as many people share the book with others. In terms of online communication, I outreach to schools, rape crisis centers, and domestic violence shelters through emails. I have also been very fortunate to be listed on blogs and magazines.  I have also shared information through interviews on national and international radio programs.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events? 

People can go to my website at or check out To the Survivors and read the reviews at

Are your books available in print and ebook formats?

Yes. To the Survivors is available in Paperback, mobi (Kindle), epub, PDF, rtf, lrf, and pdp.

I hope folks are paying attention to the content of your book and that you continue working on a second book. Now let's finish off this food and have some strawberry shortcake.

You're talking my language, Susan.