Unity Awards

Kira-Lynn Ferderber Educates the Community About Domestic and Sexual Violence

Ferderber believes educating kids is a key part of preventing violence. “It’s so important, as adults, that we make spaces that support young people," she says.

By Megan McDonald January 1, 2024 Published in the January/February 2024 issue of Sarasota Magazine

Kira-Lynn Ferderber

Kira-Lynn Ferderber

Image: David Tejada

Like so many Sarasotans, Kira-Lynn Ferderber grew up visiting her grandparents while they wintered on Siesta Key. Then, after her mother moved here when Ferderber was in college, Ferderber herself relocated in 2019. Still, “I wasn’t planning to stay in Sarasota,” she says. “I thought it was a vacation spot.” Famous last words.

Today, Ferderber, 39, is the outreach educator and community liaison at Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, which is headquartered in Sarasota’s Rosemary District. That role is a natural extension of her years of activism and advocacy for victims of sexual and domestic violence, which includes the several years she spent working at Sarasota’s Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center. At Planned Parenthood, she provides public education services, talking to “anyone and everyone,” from children to high school students to health care professionals, about a wide range of topics. “With children, we talk about things like kindness and how we name our emotions and respect people’s privacy,” she says. “With teenagers, we might talk about issues relating to teen dating violence, and with professionals, we’ll talk about all kinds of issues related to sexual health and intimate partner violence.”

In a ranking of Florida counties with the highest rates of intimate partner homicides, Sarasota is among the top 10, and Ferderber provides people with access to resources and information to reduce those numbers.

“Domestic and sexual violence can happen to anyone. It happens to people of all genders, from all walks of life,” Ferderber says. “It’s seductive to believe it couldn’t happen to you. With domestic and sexual violence, we talk about power and control. If we’re talking about a male abuser of a woman partner, the woman wanting to make a change—whether she wants to better herself and go back to school or connect with family, or perhaps gets unintentionally pregnant—that all represents something the abuser doesn’t control as much.”

Ferderber believes educating young people is a key part of preventing violence. She points out that in the wake of mass shootings like the one at Parkland in 2017, schools have ratcheted up their physical security infrastructure, but, she says, “the truth is, school shooting prevention is talking to people about rejection and toxic masculinity.” Many of these shootings, she points out, can be traced back to an incident of intimate partner violence. “You almost never see someone without a history of stalking or violence against women,” she says. “We all want our kids to be safe, regardless of anyone’s beliefs, and we know the mental health issues and trauma and violence behind these incidents. I wish we could make the connection.”

“It’s so important, as adults, that we make spaces that support young people,” she says. “We need to talk to people in their adolescent years about anger, coping strategies, boundaries and communication and we can only do that if they are safe and feel listened to and heard.” 

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