August Executive Director's Message

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This month is recognized as National Back-to-School month across the country and UCASA is participating by focusing on sexual violence on college campuses. We’re recognizing the important work of our partners on campuses across the state through our new #FactualFriday campaign. This campaign will share positive facts about the accomplishments of our community partners and efforts currently underway to eliminate sexual violence in Utah. Each Friday we'll post a series of facts about a specific topic, partner, or cause. This month we’re focused on the work being done on Utah’s college campuses.

In keeping with our theme of building a community for those working to end sexual violence in Utah, we’re growing our membership program, the Vanguard Network. This network is designed for anyone who is interested in supporting 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 making possible this month:

  • We’re tabling at the Weber County Fair on August 10-12th, 2017. We’re looking for volunteers to help cover and we’d love to have you join us. Details here.
  • On August 17th, we’ll be at the Davis County CARES Coalition meeting to support anti-sexual violence efforts in Davis County. We’re looking for engaged citizens to get involved. Learn more.
  • On August 23rd, we’re holding our first organizing meeting for the new Utah County Start by Believing Committee. The goal of this committee is to expand our Start by Believing campaign into Utah County and ensure that survivors receive the supportive response they deserve. Read more.
  • On August 24th, we’re partnering with the Utah Democratic Party to host a Back-to-School Bystander Intervention Skills Workshop. This course will focus on skill-building scenarios and will encourage attendees to practice facilitating educational activities such as bystander intervention pieces of training. Read more.
  • On August 29th, we’re partnering with several organizations at Utah Valley University to host a Back-to-School Bystander Intervention Skills Workshop. This course will focus on skill-building scenarios and will encourage attendees to practice facilitating educational activities such as bystander intervention pieces of training. Read more.

This is only a small portion of what we are doing and we hope that you’ll join us and get involved. 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 in our community.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or would like to schedule one of our events in your community. We are a statewide organization and love to support the work of our community partners across the state.

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


UCASA Announces Statewide LGBTQ Coordinating Council

New Council will focus on LGBTQ inclusion in anti-sexual violence efforts 

Salt Lake City, UT, July 21, 2017– The Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault (UCASA) announced the creation of a new statewide LGBTQ Coordinating Council to ensure that LGBTQ survivors of and victims of sexual violence, as well as the broader LGBTQ community, are represented in victim services organizations, institutions, and partnerships that serve sexual violence survivors statewide. This includes but is not limited to:

  1. Ensuring adequate representation of LGBTQ survivors in all Sexual Assault Response Teams (SARTs) statewide.

  2. Ensuring that LGBTQ-affirming training is provided statewide to sexual violence programs, law enforcement, and any other institution that interacts with sexual violence survivors.

  3. Ensuring that print, online, and others forms of information are available online to improve services for LGBTQ survivors of sexual violence.

  4. Producing LGBTQ-affirming materials for distribution statewide with a focus on rural, underserved, and culturally-specific programs and communities.

  5. Assisting organizations serving LGBTQ survivors to understand the unique cultural, historical, and institutional barriers faced by LGBTQ survivors in accessing services.

  6. As the Council expands UCASA expects that members of the Council and the community will identify additional goals and objectives that cannot currently be anticipated by our organization.

UCASA has opened applications to the public for those who are interested in serving on the Council. Council members are expected to agree to a one year term on the Council. Members of the public who are interested in the council can find additional information at ucasa.org/lgbtq.

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 For immediate release

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Turner Bitton at (801) 746-0404 Ext. 1 or email at turner@ucasa.org

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Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault adds new members to Board of Directors

The leadership team of UCASA reflects the broader collaborative spirit of UCASA: only by bringing together people from all sectors of society can we create innovative solutions that address the issue of sexual assault in our communities. Media professionals seeking a full list of members of the UCASA Board of Directors should visit the Board of Directors section of this website.

Added to the Board of Directors are:

Suzanne_Harrison_Photo.jpgDr. Suzanne Harrison

Dr. Suzanne Harrison practices at Riverton Hospital where she is Chair of the Department of Anesthesiology. She is a graduate of Stanford University, received her M.D. at the University of Utah Medical School.

Born and raised in Provo, she and her husband John are raising their three children in Draper. Dr. Harrison is a previous candidate for District 32 of the Utah House of Representatives.

She enjoys traveling and the amazing outdoor opportunities that Utah offers, including skiing, hiking, and mountain biking with her family.

Marty_Liccardo.jpegMr. Marty Liccardo

Marty has been an anti-violence educator and activist for over 15 years. He has extensive experience speaking and training students, faculty, and staff at colleges and universities around the US as well as providing programming in the public and private sector. Marty will provide in-depth, and interactive presentations, programs, training and keynote speeches. He uniquely uses humor and direct engagement to inform, guide and support audiences into critical thought and active personal commitment.

Marty's professional career has been with college and university students, and he has a broad range of programming and presenting experience. Currently, Marty serves as the Men's Engagement Specialist for the Utah Department of Health, coordinating statewide efforts to engage men in anti-violence work. He is also the co-founder of the Men's Anti-Violence Network (MAN) of Utah.

Naeim_Sobhani.jpgMr. Naeim Sobhani

Naeim is a refugee from Iran. He is grateful for the opportunities he has in this country, and he tries to give back to the community. He received a Bachelors of Finance from the University of Utah, and now he is working on his Masters in Finance. Naeim is a financial analyst at Zions Bancorporation.

He enjoys hiking, fishing, biking and volunteering during the summer and sitting on his couch during winter.

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact UCASA’s Executive Director Turner Bitton at (801) 746-0404 Ext. 1 or email at turner@ucasa.org.


May Executive Director's Message

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This month is Mental Health Month across the country and we're participating. We’re recognizing the important link between mental health and the recovery from trauma. We'll also spend the month acknowledge the importance of mental health awareness and self-care for advocates and professionals working in our field. This month we’ll be showcasing the importance of maintaining strong mental health practices and we’ll be showcasing the impact of trauma on the lifelong outcomes of us as people. 

In keeping with our theme of building a community for those working to end sexual violence in Utah, we’ve created a new membership program called the Vanguard Network. This network is designed for anyone who is interested in supporting 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 making possible this month:

  • We’re kicking off May with our 3rd Annual [Fearless] 5K on Saturday, May 6th. The Fearless 5K raises critical funds to support the life-changing work of the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault and serves as a source of inspiration and hope for advocates and survivors of sexual assault alike. Even if you don’t run, come have fun at the after party in the park, it's free and you are guaranteed to have a blast! Read more.

  • On May 10th, 2017 we're partnering with several organizations and agencies to present a special pre-conference session to the Network on Juveniles Offending Sexually (NOJOS) Conference. This special event, Youth Pathways to Human Trafficking will identify and discuss risk factors for youth as it relates to human trafficking. Read more.
  • On May 11th, we’re partnering with the Utah Department of Health’s Violence and Injury Prevention Program to bring Bystander Intervention Training to Utah County again. This time, the training will be held at Brigham Young University. Read more.
  • On May 18th, the Davis County CARES (Community Allied Resources to End Sexual Violence) Coalition is having their monthly meeting. CARES is an effort that began in Davis County in April of 2016 with the intention of preventing sexual violence throughout Davis County. Read more.

  • On May 30th, we are hosting the third installment of our professional development and networking event series. This course will provide an overview of the issues, terminology, and facts surrounding polygamy and plural marriage in Utah. We have partnered with Cherish Families to provide this free educational event for the public and professionals working in the sexual violence prevention, intervention, and treatment field. Read more.  

This is only a small portion of what we are doing and we hope that you’ll join us and get involved. 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 in our community.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or would like to schedule one of our events in your community. We are a statewide organization and love to support the work of our community partners across the state.

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


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.


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