At just seven years old, Shavontana “Starr” Davis was sexually abused at the hands of male family members, leaving her feeling paralyzed, confused and ashamed. For nearly two decades, she remained silent about her pain. Without the knowledge of programs to support her as a child, it wasn’t until she had a heart to heart with her beloved grandmother, the late Maxine Davis, that she learned the power of choosing joy. That choice led her to her purpose. Her passion to ensure that no child should have to suffer as she did, led to the creation of The Starr Institute, Inc. (TSI), which seeks to educate, engage and empower youth and the community about child sexual abuse and exploitation. TSI offers interactive, culturally relevant, age-appropriate workshops for youth aged 12-17 and the adults who support them.
Since 2017, more than 2,400 youth and adults have participated in TSI’s awareness and prevention programming. Another 600 people across 31 states and 3 countries have raised funds to support TSI’s efforts through an annual 5K run. In 2021, Starr adds another accomplishment to her roster of achievements with the debut of her first book, “The Abuse Algorithm,” which shares stories of child sexual abuse survivors, explores how adverse childhood experiences impacted their lives and how this widespread issue is a preventable public health crisis. Driven by the desire to positively shape the lives of others, she is working to build a world where young people avoid – and not just recover from – abuse.
I’m truly humbled to be among the elite class of women who are L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth Honorees. This amazing opportunity amplifies The Starr Institute’s efforts and increases our visibility in the fight to help young people avoid, and not simply recover from abuse.