In Memory of a Hero: Joe George

The survivor world lost another hero last week. Joseph C. George, an attorney and a psychologist who represented survivors of sexual abuse, died on April 22 from complications of a stroke. The void left by his passing will be hard to fill.

Joe was a good friend to SNAP, supporting both the organization and those of its leaders that worked with him. His generosity and friendship will be long remembered.

I first met Joe in 2009, when I was still a fairly new SNAP Leader. He was holding a press conference to announce a lawsuit against a Catholic priest and the Diocese of Oakland on behalf of a San Leandro woman. After an introduction from Joe, the woman spoke up for herself. It was only afterward, when I hugged her still trembling body, did I fully appreciate the courage it took for her to do this. Joe’s gentle encouragement and support, I believe, factored heavily into her ability to find her long-lost voice.

Over the years I attended many more media events with Joe, the most recent last fall, and I have seen that scenario played out again and again. Time and again, Joe let the survivors take center stage. Yes, he was a fierce advocate for those he represented, but what I respected most about him was that he helped victims to speak for themselves, and then he stepped aside and let them talk.

I am confident that his firm will continue to follow in his footsteps, working not only for, but also with, the survivors who come to them. But I also cannot help feeling that something very good and special has been lost, both for the cause, for SNAP, and for me personally.

Yet for those of us whose lives were touched by Joe’s, we must continue to strive to move the work that he started forward. Another early giant in the victims’ movement is gone, but we honor him best by following his example as well as we can.

You battled hard, Joe, and you deserve your rest. But your quiet presence will be missed. Yes, it will be very much missed.

Written by Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator and San Francisco Leader.

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant