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Elliot Ruggles ~ Advisor & Practitioner

Elliot Ruggles Vermont

Elliot (he/they pronouns, used interchangeably) is a sexuality professional and clinical social worker specializing in recovery from and prevention of sexual and gender-based harm. In his role at the University of Vermont, he works to coordinate university-wide efforts around the prevention of sexual violence. For 15 years, they have been working in sexuality and gender research, education and therapy in university and non-profit settings such as Brown University, SUNY Oneonta and Youth Services, Inc. and Family Support Line, both in the Philadelphia area.

His professional experience centers in sexuality education, research and healing. Over the past decade they have been focused on preventing sexual, relationship and gender-based violence, and assisting people in healing journeys from these types of interpersonal violence. He uses feminist and trauma-informed approaches, to advocate for people navigating bureaucratic systems after experiencing gender-based violence. His clinical interests center around identity development and complex trauma. Their research experience used a critical theory lens to examine Western notions of gender and sexuality.

Elliot is a queer, polyamorous and neurodivergent gender traveler currently living on the borderlands of the Champlain Islands in Vermont: territory historically disputed between indigenous peoples of the Abenaki and Wabanaki Confederacy in the East and the Mohawk in the North and West. This tension of migration and duality of land is fitting for this non-binary human, who seeks to find adaptability through change and learning. He was raised in Massachusetts on unceded Nauset Wampanoag territory (Cape Cod) and has lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (unceded Lanape territory) and Providence, Rhode Island (Nahaganset land). 

Elliot is a white elder millenial transmasculine person of Italian and Irish heritage (of what he knows of his heritage), a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and intergenerational trauma, and seeks to build ethical relationships in a world structured through hierarchy and oppression.

He has had the privilege of earning a terminal degree in Human Sexuality, a Masters degree in Social Work, and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and has the lived experience of a person questioning gender and sexuality norms. Their experiences in multiracial and multicultural urban environments have significantly supported their unlearning of many of the white supremacist beliefs he was steeped in growing up. Elliot is grateful to count many Black and Brown people as his teachers and guides in understanding community support and building hope for a better world.

They are a current student of plant-based medicine, gardening, fabric arts, pre-Christian spirituality and percussion. They are an unapologetically queer and gender fabulous person, embracing these “differences” as their magic and ability to find solidarity across struggle.

He is a committed partner to three adults, a caretaker of two cats and has experience in community organizing using a healing justice and community care-based approach. In the last few years they have been a student of transformative and healing justice lineages, having developed skill sets in community-based accountability processes. Elliot’s home life has been strongly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as he is currently caring for a nesting partner disabled by Long COVID. Through this experience he is learning more about disability justice and fighting the impacts of the epidemic of COVID-19 globally.

He is guided by values of climate justice and an imaginer of more sustainable ways of living on mother Earth. They have a deep relationship to and reverence for the power of the ocean and a growing relationship with Lake Champlain, and all the beings that seek life from those powerful bodies of water.

Elliot Ruggles sitting on a couch surrounded by books

As an anti-violence professional I have been working with survivors of interpersonal violence for the past decade, and in that time transformative justice and emergent strategy emerged as guiding philosophical approaches to helping me practice more ethical relationships in a world filled with violence and trauma. So often the carceral justice system disrupts community strength and wisdom, pitting people against each other as solely ‘victim’ and ‘perpetrator;’ discouraging real accountability through an adversarial system. I advocate for the community-based accountability processes of transformative justice to offer a future for people to heal, by acknowledging harm while also not irrevocably tying harm-doers to some of the worst mistakes of their lives. 

I am committed to the hard, messy work of seeking justice through relationship, in-so-doing using personal and community-based accountability as backdrop for healing in a violent world.I believe in making the connections between interpersonal dynamics and the greater systems of structural oppression we all navigate. As someone working in service to healing the world, I am also simultaneously dedicated to healing myself. Healing in relationship to transformative justice and emergent strategy offers me a path to new ways of being in the world while acknowledging the impacts of the real harms that oppression causes.”

~ Elliot Ruggles

EmpowR Vermont Sunburst

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