April Executive Director's Message

Each year the month of April is recognized across the country as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence. By working together and pooling our resources during the month of April, we can highlight sexual violence as a major public health, human rights, and social justice issue and reinforce the need for prevention efforts. Over a dozen communities throughout the state have designated April as SAAM including Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Ogden, Logan, Summit County, and Kaysville.

We’re making April a month of membership and community, celebrating the incredible work that advocates, survivors, and professionals across the state are doing to end sexual violence. Help us recognize the incredible individuals and organizations that are making a difference across the state. Click here to nominate them today for a SAAM award!

After you’ve made your nomination, take a moment to purchase tickets to the 2017 Sexual Assault Awareness Month Awards Party. Zions Bank has will host this celebration of our work to end sexual violence. Join colleagues, friends, and other advocates from across the state to recognize our awardees. Tickets are only $25 and include food, drinks, and a great night of entertainment and celebration. Click here to get your ticket today.

In keeping with our theme of membership and community, we’ve created a new membership program called the Vanguard Network. This network is designed for community members and other interested individuals to support our statewide efforts to end sexual violence. If you like the work we’re doing, please consider joining the Vanguard Network by clicking here.

Our members are the backbone of our efforts and power the work that we’re doing in communities across the state. Here are the things that our members are helping us accomplish:

  • On April 4th, we’re co-hosting a Bystander Intervention workshop with YCC, the Utah Department of Health Violence and Injury Prevention Program, and the American Democracy Project at Weber State University. Read more.
  • On April 14th, we want to buy you lunch and report back on the successes we made during the legislative session. Please join us and our guest Representative Angela Romero, to debrief the legislative session. We’re providing lunch and hope you’ll join us to debrief the most successful legislative session in recent memory.  Read more.
  • On April 20th, the Davis County CARES (Community Allied Resources to End Sexual Violence) Coalition is having a meeting. CARES is an effort that began in Davis County in April of 2016 with the intention of preventing sexual violence. Read more.

  • On April 24th, we are hosting The Identity Project: An Evening of Healing and Art with the Davis County CARES Coalition and Safe Harbor Crisis Center. Through this workshop, participants will focus on their identity as humans through writing, painting, and drawing. Read more.

  • On April 28th, as we mentioned above we’re hosting a the SAAM Awards Party. Join us for a night of fun, food, and friends as we recognize leaders in Utah’s sexual violence field. Read more.  

  • On May 6th we’ll close out SAAM with our annual Fearless 5K. Now in its third year, the Fearless 5K raises critical funds to support the life changing work of UCASA and serves as a source of inspiration and hope for advocates and survivors of sexual assault alike. Read more.
  • Lastly, our next Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) training has been scheduled for September 7-9th in Provo. Learn more.

This is only a small portion of what we are doing and we hope that you’ll join us. Our work is powered by our membership program. Join us on the next step of our journey by becoming a member of our newly formed Vanguard Network. By making a monthly membership contribution to UCASA, you are joining the local movement to end sexual violence. Our members include community leaders with a wide range of interests, backgrounds, and experience working to combat sexual violence-related issues. By joining this month, you’ll receive a free ticket to both the SAAM Awards Party and the Fearless 5K.

Thank you for your support,

Turner C. Bitton
Executive Director
turner@ucasa.org
(801) 746-0404 Ext. 1


March Executive Director's Message

March marks the end of the 2017 legislative session. We have been very engaged on Capitol Hill working to create public policies that will support survivors of sexual violence. For the past seven weeks, we’ve had the opportunity to work side-by-side with advocates, activists, and community partners. I’m pleased to tell you that we have made remarkable progress on Capitol Hill. In short, we’ve passed legislation to mandate the testing, storage, and tracking of sexual assault kits; we succeeded in passing legislation that will provide confidentiality protections to victims of sexual violence on Utah’s college campuses; and we defeated several bills that would have caused real harm to survivors of sexual violence.

If the 2017 legislative session has taught us one thing, it’s that we are making significant progress in eliminating sexual violence in all of its forms in our community. Our friends, neighbors, and families are getting more engaged in our efforts and as a result our society is changing.

Our work is growing and we’ve launched a new membership program called the Vanguard Network. This network is designed for community members and other interested individuals to support our statewide efforts to end sexual violence. If you like the work we’re doing, please consider joining the Vanguard Network by clicking here.

Our members are the backbone of our efforts and power the work that we’re doing in communities across the state. Here are the things that our members are helping us accomplish:

  • On March 9-11, 18, and 25th we’re hosting our next 40-Hour Rape Advocacy Training at our office in Salt Lake City. This training gives sexual violence advocates the information and tools they need to handle calls from victims of sexual assault effectively and sensitively. Read more.

If your community isn’t on this list and you would like it to be, please reply to this email. Logan, Kaysville, and several other cities will recognize SAAM without hosting public events.

  • Our 4th Annual Sexual Violence Prevention, Intervention, and Treatment Conference is coming up on March 23rd and 24th. This conference will introduce new perspectives on the challenges we have been facing individually through our therapeutic, crisis intervention or criminal justice responses. Learn more.
  • In honor of National Professional Social Work Month on March 29th we’re hosting a panel discussion at the University of Utah called “Social Work and Sexual Violence”. This panel of social workers will discuss the critical role that social workers play in sexual violence prevention and intervention. Read more.  
  • We’ve been traveling the Wasatch Front conducting trainings in partnership with the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) on Bystander Intervention. We’re utilizing the new curriculum developed by UDOH to conduct train-the-trainer events. Join us for one of our upcoming trainings: 

If you would like to request a training in your community, simply reply to this email.

  • Our next Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner training has been scheduled for September 7-9th in Provo. Learn more.

This is only a small portion of what we are doing and we hope that you’ll join us. Our work is powered by our membership program. Join us on the next step of our journey by becoming a member of our newly formed Vanguard Network. By making a monthly membership payment to UCASA, you are joining the local movement to end sexual violence. Our members include community leaders with a wide range of interests, backgrounds, and experience working to combat sexual violence-related issues.

Take a moment to visit UCASA.org and get to know our organization.

Thank you for your support,

Turner C. Bitton
Executive Director


February Executive Director's letter

With the 2017 legislative session and we’re heavily engaged on Capitol Hill creating public policies that will support the needs of survivors of sexual violence. For the month, we have had the opportunity to work side-by-side with advocates, families, and communities to support public policies to eliminate and intervene in sexual violence in our communities. We have had some success and some defeats but one thing is clear, we are making progress on Capitol Hill.

As the Executive Director at UCASA, my responsibilities include building a strong foundation for a vibrant and relevant coalition capable of supporting important legislation dedicated to create better responses to sexual violence and preventing it from occurring in our community.

I want to provide some reassurance to those of you out there who are concerned about national political and legislative developments. We will always be here; our work continues and we remain as optimistic about a future free from sexual violence as we have ever been. In fact, our work is growing and our organization is expanding to meet the needs of our communities. Utah is taking proactive steps to support the needs of every survivor and create public policies to ensure justice to every survivor.

Read more

Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault to host press conference on pending sexual violence legislation

Salt Lake City, Utah, January 30, 2017 – The Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault will host a Sexual Violence Citizen Advocacy Training at the Utah State Capitol followed by a press conference announcing the organization’s legislative priorities and agenda for the 2017 legislative session.

Attendees of the Advocacy Day will receive updates about upcoming legislation related to sexual violence. Our presenters will also share tips on how to contact elected officials and how citizens can ensure that their voices are heard throughout the legislative session. Additional information about legislation being supported by UCASA will be provided to attendees.

Event organizers will hold a press conference to discuss the ongoing efforts to prevent interpersonal violence in Utah at 11:30 am in the Capitol Rotunda. Speakers will include UCASA’s Executive Director of Turner C. Bitton, Representative Angela Romero, Kristin Hodson a supporter of HB215, Deondra Brown who will express opposition to HB137. Nearly one in three Utah women will experience some sort of sexual violence during their lives. Utah’s incidences of rape exceed the national average; yet, only an estimated 12% of Utah rape victims ever report the offense to law enforcement. Finally, nearly 79% of victims reported that their first sexual assault occurred when they were under 18 years old; while more than 91 % of victims were attacked by someone they knew, including friends and acquaintances.

Additional biographical information and timeline information about the Sexual Violence Advocacy Training and press conference are available below. 

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Turner C. Bitton at (801) 564-3860 or email at turner@ucasa.org.

Timeline of event for January 30th, 2017:

8:00 to 8:30 - Networking / Refreshments

8:30 to 10:00 - Sexual Violence Basics / Lobbying Overview

  • Sexual Violence 101 – Julie Stephenson (30 min)
  • State Agency Introductions
    • Ned Searle CCJJ (9-9:10)
    • Marty Liccardo UDOH (9:10-9:20)
    • Gary Scheller UOVC (9:20-9:30)
    • Citizen Lobbying (30 minutes)

10:00 to 10:30 - 2017 Session Preview / Issues & Trends

  • House Bill 200 (Representative Romero)
  • House Bill 215 (Representative King)
  • Confidentiality Legislation (Turner C. Bitton)
  • Appropriation Request (Turner C. Bitton)
  • Additional Legislation to Watch (Turner C. Bitton)
  • Questions (Turner C. Bitton) 

10:30 to 11:30 - Capitol Tour and contacting legislators (Alana and Julie)

11:30 to 12 – Press Conference

  • Welcome (Turner C. Bitton 2min)
  • Prevention, why we ask for money (Jessica Burnham 5min)
  • HB200 (Rep. Romero 5-10min)
  • HB215 (Kristin Hodson 5-10min)
  • Confidentiality Legislation (Turner C. Bitton 5min)
  • HB137 (Deondra Brown 5min)
  • Closing and Questions (Turner C. Bitton) 

 Participants in press conference at 11am:

Read more

Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault announces campus initiatives

For immediate release

Utah January 27, 2017– The Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault today announced two new initiatives aimed at improving response to sexual violence on Utah’s higher education campuses. The initiatives are designed to engage campus communities, students, and faculty to address sexual violence.

The first initiative is the 2016 College Safety survey. This survey will be used to research attitudes and experiences on college campuses in Utah as part of our effort to provide confidential and privileged advocacy services for survivors of sexual assault, rape, domestic or dating violence, and stalking.

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“We understand that each survivor of sexual violence has a unique experience depending on the campus that they report violence. We are interested in learning about those experiences and working with campuses to improve services for sexual assault survivors on those campuses.” –Turner C. Bitton, UCASA Executive Director

The second initiative is the Young Emerging Leaders Advisory Council. This advisory council exists within UCASA’s larger membership and assists UCASA with program development. The mission of the Young Emerging Leaders Council is to:

  • To connect with the diverse young people in their communities and to represent and communicate their interests, needs, and aspirations to UCASA.
  • To develop the leadership skills of YELAC members and support the leadership development of other young people.
  • To champion the work of UCASA in their professional and personal circles.
  • To create mission-based opportunities for other young UCASA members.

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 “Young people are the key to eliminating sexual violence in our community. We believe fundamentally that we can eliminate sexual violence in one generation by engaging the next generation of leaders in our efforts.” - Turner C. Bitton, UCASA Executive Director

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Turner C. Bitton at (801) 564-3860 or email at turner@ucasa.org.


Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault addresses student and alumni concerns about victim advocacy position appointments

For immediate release

Provo, Utah, January 19, 2017– The Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault (UCASA) today released a statement released a statement regarding the selection of the Title IX Coordinator, the Deputy Title Ix Coordinator and Victim Advocate at Brigham Young University. Turner C. Bitton, Executive Director of UCASA released the following statement on the newly appointed positions.

“Both Ms. Leavitt and Ms. Turley have demonstrated a commitment to serving survivors of sexual assault. Ms. Leavitt has been an active participant in the Utah County Sexual Assault Response Team and has been a source of support for survivors of sexual assault. Ms. Turley was trained through UCASA's 40 Hour Rape Advocacy Certificate course and is a dedicated and passionate victim advocate. We understand that victim advocacy at any institution does not exist in a vacuum and in many ways the success of any advocacy program depends on the level of engagement that the local community has committed. We will support Ms. Turley and Ms. Leavitt as they begin their new positions.”

Adding further, he stated:

“We take the experience of every survivor extremely seriously.  We share the desire to improve policies on all college campuses to improve their response to sexual violence. We are committed to supporting the needs and interests of survivors across the state, on and off campus. We believe that there still remains critical work to be done. This work includes the official adoption of a defined policy providing safety and amnesty from honor code violations. We acknowledge that significant progress  has been made at the University. Many of the concerns raised in the letter to President Worthen have been or are in the process of being improved.”

On the response letter from President Worthen, Bitton added:

“We understand that survivors of sexual violence at Brigham Young University have historically not experienced the level of support that they deserved. UCASA’s role has always been to work with institutions, survivors, and other stakeholders to improve the response to sexual violence. We endeavor to believe in  the best of intentions from all parties. We applaud the concrete actions that Brigham Young University has made toward improving the response to sexual violence on campus.”

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Turner C. Bitton at (801) 564-3860 or email at turner@ucasa.org.


December Executive Director's letter

As 2016 comes to an end I’ve had a once in a lifetime opportunity to reflect on the lessons that the past twenty years of UCASA’s work have meant to the people and communities we serve. January 1st, 2017 brings with it more than the new year, it is also the beginning of the twenty first year of UCASA’s life-changing work. For the past twenty years, we have had the opportunity to work side-by-side with advocates, families, and communities alike to eliminate sexual violence from our communities. We have made remarkable progress and we know that the next chapter of our history is about to be written.

It is an honor to be serving as the Executive Director as, along with so many dedicated individuals who ensure that our work continues. As citizens and advocates, we work together to achieve UCASA’s mission of empowering communities throughout Utah to prevent sexual assault and serve survivors by providing comprehensive training, advocacy, public awareness and coordinated sexual assault services. I have the pleasure of working alongside an incredible number of world class professionals and I am especially privileged to have an incredibly dedicated staff.

As Executive Director at UCASA, my responsibilities include building a strong foundation for a vibrant and relevant coalition based on strong fiscal practices; working with an active board of directors to responsibly plan and execute UCASA’s direction; collaborating with other coalitions across the country to learn best practices and build a team with a passion to achieve the ultimate result of ending sexual violence in Utah. 

I want to provide some reassurance to those of you out there who are concerned about the social, financial, and political developments taking place in our communities. During difficult times such as these, you can depend on us. We will always be here; our work continues and we remain as optimistic about a future free from sexual violence as we have ever been. In fact, our work is growing and our organization is expanding to meet the needs of our communities.

Our future is bright and the next chapter of UCASA’s work will be as exciting, productive and meaningful as the past twenty years have been. As we look to 2017 we will continue to improve our coalition and build on the strong foundation of the previous chapter of our history. I’m very pleased to announce several endeavors that UCASA will be undertaking in the next year and beyond. Here is just a sampling of the incredible new endeavors that I am pleased to share with you:

  • We are launching a new professional development program that will complement our existing 40-hour Rape Advocacy Training to focus on more than the sexual violence field. Through our new professional development program, you’ll be able to earn certificates such as Sexual Violence 101 and Human Trafficking 101.
  • As part of our commitment to serving all areas of Utah we’re updating our website and launching an entirely new online experience. Our new website will feature members-only content that can be accessed remotely and will allow for members in geographically dispersed areas to experience the same content that our members across the Wasatch Front enjoy. In addition, our new website will feature translation options so that language will no longer be a barrier to the great services and programs we offer.
  • Public policy has always been an important piece of the work that we do and we’re taking that commitment to the next level. We’re taking a leap as the first coalition in the nation to establish a 501c4 organization to further our legislative efforts. This new organization will be governed by our Board of Directors and staffed by our existing staff and it will allow us to further our goals of creating and implementing public policies and laws designed to assist survivors.

This is only a small taste of what is to come from UCASA. Our work is powered by our membership program. Join us on the next step of our journey by becoming a member of our newly formed Vanguard Network. By making a monthly membership payment to UCASA you are joining the local movement to end sexual violence. Our members include community leaders with a wide range of interests, backgrounds, and experience working to combat sexual violence-related issues.

I invite you to visit UCASA’s new website often. It will be constantly updated with important information regarding our work. 

Thank you for your support,

Turner C. Bitton
Executive Director


New Executive Director Announcement

UTAH COALITION AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT ANNOUNCES NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

October 31, 2016

Contact: Turner C. Bitton  turner-c-bitton-headshot

Cell: 801-564-3860

Email: turner@ucasa.org

Salt Lake City, October 31, 2016– The Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault is pleased to announce Turner C. Bitton as its new executive director. Mr. Bitton brings a diverse background of nonprofit and for-profit experience to the Coalition, most recently as Membership Coordinator at Equality Utah, Utah’s LGBTQ advocacy organization. Bitton begins his new position at the Coalition today and will begin full responsibilities immediately.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, I am delighted to welcome Turner C. Bitton as the new executive director,” said Board Chair Laurie Hofmann. “His wealth of experience and demonstrated leadership in service to our community will help the Coalition move forward in its mission to strengthen the effectiveness of sexual violence education, prevention and response in Utah.”

As executive director of the Coalition, Bitton will oversee an organization that works to build awareness of the pervasive issue of sexual assault in our communities and to foster a society where sexual violence is no longer tolerated.

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