UCASA is excited to announce the launch of our Call for Proposals for the 8th Annual Utah Sexual Violence Conference, Re-Envisioning How We End Sexual Violence, to be held Thursday and Friday March 17-18, 2022.
We are seeking proposals that are aligned with our conference theme in the following categories:
Intervention & Response
Campuses & Title IX
Proposals that do not clearly conform to one of the tracks and related topics defined above will be reviewed on an individual basis. Workshops are 90 minutes in duration, and priority will be given to sessions that are interactive, engaging, and provide participants with something tangible.
- April 1st SART Power Hour at 10 AM
This event is only for Victim Advocates, Law Enforcement Victim Officers, Forensic Exam medical examiners, forensic scientists, and prosecutors.
UCASA has partnered with the Utah Office for Victims of Crimes and the Utah Department of Public Safety to bring you the SART Power Hour series! Take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about Sexual Assault Response Teams in Utah and connect with colleagues across the state.
Sexual Assault Response Teams (SARTs)are coalitions of agencies that serve sexual assault victims. Core membership for SARTs typically includes victim advocates, law enforcement officers, forensic medical examiners, forensic scientists, and prosecutors. Multidisciplinary SARTs work together to formalize interagency guidelines that prioritize victims’ needs, hold offenders accountable, and promote public safety.
Training Topic: The Basics
During this hour we will review the role of law enforcement, SANE nurses, prosecutors, system-based advocate, and community-based advocate.
Marlesse D. Jones
Register at this link.
- April 5th Art Healing Workshop for Advocates at 10 AM
This virtual workshop is for all advocates in the State of Utah to provide a creative opportunity to explore their journey toward growth and transformation by using the butterfly as a powerful symbol for their hopes, dreams and freedom. Butterflies are very special and beautiful creatures, even though they don't start out that way. Like each one of us, they grow and change. We invite you to relax and enjoy your special creative journey during this art workshop to explore and express your colorful soul. For more information and to sign up please email Doni Arnold at [email protected]
- April 7th Start by Believing Event In Person at Capitol Building at 9 AM
On this day, we gather to end the silence and change the way we respond to sexual assault. We Start by Believing. This event will be a collaboration between UCASA, Rape Recovery Center and Representative Romero. We will be gathering in person at the Capitol at 9 AM.
- April 14th Art Healing Workshop for Survivors at 5 PM
This virtual workshop is open for all survivors in the state of Utah, the Personal Needs Flower- This workshop aims to help participants focus on and honor their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs through the creation of a flower with each petal representing those needs. Please register with our facilitating advocate [email protected]
- April 28th Denim Day Campaign/Action Day
Wear Denim during this day!
For the past 22 years, Peace Over Violence has run an inspiring and powerful opportunity to practice solidarity and support survivors by renewing our commitment to exposing harmful behaviors and attitudes surrounding sexual violence. Denim Day is a campaign on a Wednesday in April in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The campaign began after a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans she must have helped the person who raped her remove her jeans, thereby implying consent. The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim. Peace Over Violence developed the Denim Day campaign in response to this case and the activism surrounding it. Since then, what started as a local campaign to bring awareness to victim blaming and destructive myths that surround sexual violence has grown into a movement. As the longest running sexual violence prevention and education campaign in history, Denim Day asks community members, elected officials, businesses and students to make a social statement with their fashion statement by wearing jeans on this day as a visible means of protest against the misconceptions that surround sexual violence.
- April 29th Sexual Assault Legislative Update at 5 PM
This virtual event will be a collaboration between UCASA, Rape Recovery Center and Representative Romero. Representative Romero will be providing vital information in regards to the legislative update. For more information please email Emma Zevallos at [email protected]
Rape Recovery Center Events:
- April 1st: Digital Consent Instagram and Facebook Stories at 5 PM
Watch the Rape Recovery Center’s Instagram and Facebook stories for their kickoff of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
- Beyond Sex Ed: A talk on Boundaries & Consent for the Tik Tok Generation April 5, 2021 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. MST
Open to Ages 14+
Join the Rape Recovery Center's Prevention team in this fun and interactive session where consent will be discussed beyond sex ed and why it matters
- April 7th: Start By Believing Day of Action
Since 2015, led by Representative Angela Romero the State of Utah has joined the country every April 7th in a unified voice for survivors of sexual violence. Start by Believing Day is an opportunity for each of us to clearly state that we believe survivors and seek community solutions to accountability and justice.
On this Day of Action, join the Rape Recovery Center by pledging to “ Start by believing when someone tells me they were raped or sexually assaulted, support survivors on the road to justice and healing, help end the silence.” via www.startbybelieving.org. Post your pledge and tag the Rape Recovery Center on Instagram or Facebook. Use the tag #SAAM2021RRC all participants will be entered to receive one of our limited edition “Believe Survivor” Hoodies!
- April 15th: How to speak your language of Sex, Love, and Play
April 15, 2021
12:00 p.m. MST
Registration Information coming soon!
In collaboration with the University of Utah's Women's Resource Center and the Center of Ethnic Student Affairs, the Rape Recovery Center is thrilled to host Ignacio G Hutía Xeiti Rivera, M.A. (they/them/theirs). They is an Activist, Writer, Educator, Sex(ual) Healer, Filmmaker, Performance Artist, and Mother. Ignacio has over 20 years of experience on multiple fronts, including economic justice, anti-racist and anti-violence work, mujerista, LGBTQI, and sex-positive movements. Their lived experience of homelessness, poverty, and sexual trauma influence their work. Ignacio's work is driven by the strengths of identifying as a survivor, transgender, Yamoká-hu/Two-Spirit, Black-Boricua-Taíno, and queer. The workshop will talk, discuss, negotiate and hold folxs accountable for all of our desires – those spoken and unspoken.
- April 19th: Modeling Health Behaviors: Keeping Kids Safe While Spending More Time Online
April 19, 2021
1:00 p.m. MST
Children and adults alike can use social media or view screens in perfectly healthy ways. Problems occur when excessive attention to screens crowds out other learning behaviors and exposes children to troubling content, advertisers, and people. How do you then model what is appropriate, expected, and normal? Join our host, Prevent Child Abuse Utah, as we discuss how to model, engage, and teach children healthy behaviors and patterns online.
- April 20th: “It’s a Match” workshop at 4:30 PM
April 20, 2021
4:30 p.m. MST
Open to ages 14+
In collaboration with the University of Utah’s Center for Student Wellness, we are thrilled to host a workshop on navigating relationships. Whether it be a casual hook-up, a blossoming friendship, a spicy pleasure-affair, or a committed partnership, we will identify what makes a relationship “healthy.” This includes what you want out of your relationships and the critical role of self-care, pleasure, communication, and consent plays.
- April 27th: Supporting survivors workshop at 6 PM
April 27, 2021
6:00 p. m. - 7:00 p. m. MST
Open to Ages 14+
For many survivors, social distancing limits access to services, medical care, and community supports -- and social unrest and crisis are often linked to increased risk of sexual assault and abuse (NSVRC,2021). How then can we best take care of ourselves during this time? Join us in this workshop to learn ways to foster a sense of connection and serve as an important reminder that we are not alone. Facilitators will provide participants a toolkit after the workshop.
- April 29th: Pillar of Hope Awardees Announcement
Each year, the Rape Recovery Center honors a community member or organization for their work in sexual violence treatment, awareness, or prevention. Join us as we recognize this year's awardee for their contributions to our community. Past award winners include Representative Angela Romero, Jennifer Seelig, Deondra Brown, Chief Lee Russo, Dr. Julie Valentine, Pacific Island Knowledge 2 Action Resources, Centro de la Familia de Utah, and Ashley Love.
Canyon Creek Services Events:
- April 5th - 12th: The Clothesline Project in Cedar City, Enoch, and Parowan
For more information please click this link.
- April 7th: Start By Believing campaign
For more information please click this link.
- April 28th: Denim Day contest with local businesses
For more information please click this link.
Safe Harbor Events:
- March 31st, 2021 - Paint the Town Teal
Join Safe Harbor in turning Davis County teal for Sexual Assault Awareness Month! Volunteers and community partners wil l come together to tie bright teal ribbons along several prominent main streets and share flyers with local businesses to raise awareness about sexual assault awareness month. This event wil l help make a bold, visible statement that Davis County supports survivors and that we wil l not tolerate sexual violence in our community. This is a fun and meaningful event that the whole family can enjoy!
- April 1st: Paint the Town Teal (Davis County Mayors signing proclamation)
Mayors throughout Davis County wil l sign an annual proclamation declaring April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This proclamation also draws awareness to the harm that sexual violence does in our community and urges individuals to step up and take part in preventing sexual violence.
For more information please click this link.
- April 1st - 30th, 2021 - What Were You Wearing Installation (Virtual)
This exhibit is based on survivor descriptions of the clothing they were wearing during a sexual assault. This powerful exhibition aims to shatter the myth that sexual assault is attributed to a person's choice of wardrobe. This exhibit aims to challenge participants to understand that sexual assault is never about clothing. Putting on clothing is such a common and basic action that we all do daily, to take that action and combine it with pain and suffering taints the individual outfit for the survivor and also calls into question all the simplistic and normal daily behaviors as dangerous.
- April 5th - 11th, 2021 - Start By Believing Challenge
Start by Believing is a public awareness campaign designed to end the cycle of silence and change the way we respond to sexual assault. It was first launched in April 2011. Since then, thousands of people across the country and around the world have made their own personal commitments. Join Safe Harbor during the Start By Believing Challenge from April 5th through
the 11th. It’s time to end this cycle of silence and change the way we respond to sexual assault. The first step is to personally take the pledge. It all starts with you. Make your personal commitment to Start by Believing. I pledge to Start by Believing if someone tel ls me about their sexual assault. I pledge to support survivors on their road to justice and healing. I pledge to end the cycle of silence. Join Safe Harbor using the hashtag #StartbyBelievingSHCC and tag Safe Harbor @SafeHarborCrisisCenter and Start by Believing @StartbyBelieving
For more information please click this link.
- April 7th: Film Screening: The Hunting Ground at 6:30 PM
Join Safe Harbor for a screening of The Hunting Ground a poignant documentary about the reality of sexual assault on col lege campuses across the country and the institutional shortcomings that al low it to persist. For more information please click this link.
- April 17: “I Ask” Survivors of Violence Art Showcase
Join Safe Harbor Crisis Center and Bountiful Davis Arts Center to celebrate the strength of survivors of violence and share in the healing power of art. The "I Ask" Survivor Art Showcase will feature powerful , original artwork created by survivors of violence from all experience levels and backgrounds. The creative arts provide a space for emotional expression that can be incredibly healing for survivors as they work to move beyond the trauma of their past abuse. We are honored to be able to support these strong, resilient artists by providing an outlet for them to share their journey with the community. For more information please click this link.
- April 23rd: Take Back the Night Candlelight Vigil at 6:30 PM
Take Back the Night events began in 1972 when a group of women at a University in Southern Florida marched through campus demanding resources and safety for women. Since then Take Back the Night events have been held annually in over a thousand communities around the world. The purpose of this event is to bring awareness to sexual violence in our community and make a statement against violence. Join Safe Harbor for a Take Back the Night candlelight vigil to unite together against sexual violence within our community. For more information please click this link.
- April 26th, 2021 - 1st Annual Sexual Violence Conference at 9 AM
This conference will l focus on a wide range of topics with tracks for law enforcement, advocates, sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE), and community members and will be offered as a hybrid in-person and virtual event. Register for this conference HERE.
Team Hill AFB - Sexual Assault Prevention & Response (SAPR) SAAPM Events
- 1 April: Paint the Town Teal:
The SAPR office will be placing banners and teal ribbons around the installation to kick off #30DaysofSAAPM Activities.
- 8 April @ 1000 SAPR Open House:
Come visit the SAPR Office (Bldg 460 between the chapel and landing) and sign the Proclamation declaring April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month throughout the base community. If we see conduct that could potentially lead to
sexual assault, we need to step in and prevent it to the best of our ability and support those who have already been hurt. Everyone must make this a priority, so every airman can FLY HIGH together.
- 15 April @ 1030, 1200, or 1330: SAPR Wacky Walk:
Join us in a fun and silly walk around the duck pond. Participants will show off their best “walk” at each station (ex. moonwalk, walk like an Egyptian, walk like a sloth) and receive SAPR educational awareness items. To make certain Covid safety measures are being met, registration is required: https://75-abw-sapr.ticketleap.com/sapr wacky-walk/
- 22 April @ 1100 Virtual SAAPM:
The Mission is Transformation - Mike Domitrz, subject matter expert and author, has been working with all levels of military leadership for over a decade (from individual units to the Pentagon). In this open discussion, Mike will provide specific steps for creating positive transformations in each unit, command, and on every installation. In this presentation, Mike will:
∙ Share specific skill sets and insights for creating long-term cultural transformation toward respect, sex, consent, bystander intervention, supporting survivors, and the language we use.
∙ Reveal realistic techniques that everyone can implement immediately – from our young, single military members to our more seasoned, married leaders. Discover unintentional harm that some leaders are causing – and the simple solutions for avoiding such damage.
∙ Discuss the “Slope” of sexual activity that provokes leaders at all levels into having thought-provoking and sometimes paradigm-shifting conversations regarding their beliefs versus what they believe they can actually say.
To register for this free event please visit:
For questions about any of these events, please contact the SAPR office at 801-777- 1950 or email: [email protected].
- April 1st-10th: Start By Believing booth at Baby Animal Days
For more information please click this link.
- April 12th - 23rd : Anti-Violence Week in school (banner/pledge)
For more information please click this link.
- April 9th: Partnering with USU for Take the Night Event
For more information please click this link.
- April: Attending all City Council Meetings to promote Start By Believing
For more information please click this link.
Peace House Events:
- Child Abuse Prevention Series April 6th-27th @ 5:30-6:30
- Creating Positive Peer Norms for Teens
- Spanking: Perspectives on Corporal Punishment
- Self Care as Child Abuse Prevention
- Boundaries and Safety Plans for Families
- Sexual Abuse Prevention Series April 8th-April 29th @5:30-6:30
- Gaslighting and Reactive Abuse
- Sexual Assault in the Legal System
- Romanticizing Abuse
- Racial Inequity and Interpersonal Violence
- 2 Social Media Campaigns for Child Abuse Prevention and Sexual Assault Prevention will be launched for more information please click this link.
- Virtual Screening of “City of Joy” April 28 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Utah State University Events:
- Coffee & Conversation: Q&A with the Gender & Sexuality Program Coordinator
Time: Mar 31, 2021 12:00 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada)
Meeting ID: 597 306 2827
- Start By Believing Day
Wednesday, April 7th 8 AM - 3 PM
Utah State University is being recognized by EVAWI for the 10 Year Celebration of Start by Believing for our efforts in making USU a Start by Believing campus! USU is determined to make sure their students, staff, and faculty are educated on how to respond to a survivor who discloses their experience. Pledge booths will be on the Logan, Blanding, and Price campus throughout the day.
- Unlikely Allies: Creative Collaborations on Higher Education Sexual Misconduct Prevention
Date and Time: Wednesday, April 7, 2021 at 3:00 PM MST
Sexual misconduct prevention efforts within institutions of higher education have traditionally consisted of research-based bystander intervention programs and risk reduction education efforts. This panel of faculty, staff, and students introduces a nontraditional collaboration within prevention work which resulted in impactful efforts. Participants will leave the conversation knowing how other courses can integrate similar collaborations within their own space.
- Emmalee Fishburn (she/her), MPH, CHES; Senior Prevention Specialist, USU Office of Equity
- Felicia Gallegos (She/Her), MSW; Outreach and Prevention Coordinator, USU Sexual Assault & Anti-Violence Information (SAAVI) Office
- Hailey Judd, MPH, CHES
- Julia Hoffman, Undergraduate Student in English
- Dr. Avery Edenfield, USU Assistant Professor, Department of English
- Dory Rosenberg, USU Library
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 848 9560 1992
- Take Back the Night Community March
Friday, April 9, 2021 7 PM
200 E. Main St. Logan, UT
The Northern Utah Violence Prevention Education Coalition (NUVPEC) is partnering with Utah State University to host a Take Back the Night community march for the Cache Valley community.
- Coffee & Conversation: A Message on Self-Love
Time: Apr 14, 2021 12:00 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada)
Meeting ID: 597 306 2827
- Coffee & Conversation: Prevention Beyond Compliance
Time: Apr 21, 2021 12:00 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada)
Meeting ID: 597 306 2827
BYU Campus Events
Just Ask- workshop on consent and healthy relationships 7PM via zoom Meeting ID 918 8191 2822 passcode 478128
Wear teal to show your support and share a photo with the hashtag #BYUTakeAction
COVID-19 is a new respiratory virus. Now that COVID-19 is spreading in Utah, this can impact our services to survivors and our abilities to stay at full staffing. Although there are many unknowns, here are some considerations for sexual assault programs and other providing services in high risk areas.
Telecommuting and Confidentiality:
Confidential work space: each program will need to work with advocates to assess their remote work spaces and if confidential services can be provided. If, for example, an advocate's partner is also temporarily working from home, the advocate will need to ensure there is a soundproof room in which to provide phone services. These are of course, case-by-case supervisory discussions.
Temporary file storage: if advocates need to work remotely for some time, they will likely need to bring client files home. Best practice would be to get a password lock document bag or locking clipboard for advocates working remotely so they can store files confidentially. Both items can be found on Amazon for $20-30. With electronic files, the program will want to set expectations and perhaps policy for advocates who will share a computer at home with partners, children, or others. The policy/supervision expectations should address signing in and out of databases, clearing history, etc. to protect confidentiality.
Reimbursement: programs may need to reimburse advocates for personal cell phone usage or modify their mileage reimbursement policies (some programs base reimbursement on distance from the office, but that wouldn't work). An advocate that pays per minute for cell usage will probably go over their minutes if they are using it for service provision.
Check out the National Network to End Domestic Violence's resource on using digital services during a public health crisis.
Use your best judgement when determining if folks should provide accompaniment services to individuals in hospitals and working with advocates to determine risk. If folks have colds, history of respiratory illnesses, compromised immune systems, or other health issues, they may not be the best candidate for providing accompaniment to the hospital. It makes sense to take precautions.
Engage in recommended prevention:
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow.
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Add hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes to your hospital "go bag. " Clean your cell phone often. Wipe down surfaces.
- Avoid touching your face when possible and wash your hands if you do touch your face.
- If you are sick, stay home.
Connect with your hospital partners about their current procedures for limiting exposure to workers and patients not impacted by the novel coronavirus. At some point, the hospital may also be working to triage non-emergency clients with increased cases. Talk with them about contingency plans and a threshold where it could impact exams to survivors.
Although CSAP contracts require hospital accompaniment to be provided to people who have been sexually assaulted, we recognize that your community may be experiencing unique risk factors related to COVID19.
For state and county specific information access the Utah State Department of Health 2019 Novel Coronavirus Outbreak (COVID-19) https://coronavirus.utah.gov/
Dear Sexual Assault Service Providers,
I am sending you this information with the 5 Key Concepts of SANE care in mind. Those key concepts
1. Patient-centered care
2. Trauma- Informed care
3. Evidence-based practice
4. Multidisciplinary team approach
5. Recognizing community uniqueness
See OVC SANE Program Development and Operations Guide
1. Patient-centered care- Realize that providing care during a pandemic adds significant stressors
to an already stressful event. In addition to dealing with their own assault patients may be
worried about family members at risk or have financial stressors that are causing distress.
a. Anticipate potential situations that might decrease access to care:
i. Strict visitor policies that might limit support persons. Many hospitals are
limiting visitation to only 2 visitors per patient. Find out now if that will limit
access for advocates.
ii. Payment issues. It is an ongoing struggle to make sure patients are never billed
for their exams. As hospitals struggle to keep up with high volumes of patients,
make sure your patients know what to do if they receive a bill after an exam.
Plan to be more aggressive about follow-up calls to check on patients.
iii. Don’t be afraid to slow the process down and take the time to reassure patients.
2. Trauma- informed care- The pandemic is causing extreme levels of stress in many people. Add a
history of previous trauma and a new trauma and you may have patients who are displaying
increased symptoms or may be more easily triggered.
a. Be aware that stress can trigger other chronic health concerns
i. Patients may be self-medicating with alcohol and drugs
ii. Trauma nightmares may become more frequent and sleep more interrupted
iii. Hotlines may be getting more calls from people with histories of previous
3. Evidence- based practice – We should be making decisions based on good scientific evidence. At
this point in the epidemic we do not have all of the answers.
a. What we know about the COVID-19
i. Spread by droplet
ii. Best protection is good hand washing and social distancing
b. What can you do to reduce the risk to you and your patients?
i. Don’t come to work if you are sick
ii. Wash your hands -20 seconds of scrubbing with soap and water
iii. If you use hand sanitizer – wet all surfaces of your hands and rub until they are
iv. Get a flu shot if you have not already been vaccinated
v. If you have a chronic condition such diabetes or heart disease you may want to
talk to your health care provider about potential risks if you are responding to a
4. Multidisciplinary team approach – We have never done this work in a vacuum and that does not
change during an epidemic.
a. If you decide to make changes to your response protocol make sure you notify and get
input from all team members.
5. Recognizing community uniqueness- Each SANE program, Advocacy Program and SART will have
specific needs that must be addressed.
a. Below I am going to describe what we are planning for Utah County. Many of you may
not be able to duplicate our process, but hopefully this will give you some ideas to
discuss with your SART about how to prepare as the epidemic hits our communities. You
may have resources that others do not have. Don’t be afraid to think out of the box.
Finally, what I have written is this document is based on my knowledge and experience. It is not legal
advice, medical advice or any type of mandate from UCASA. Stay up to date on recommendations from
state and local officials. Work closely with your SANEs if they are hospital based and work closely with
your hospitals if you are community based. Be prepared that things could change rapidly.
Here are some trusted sites of information:
Utah Health Department https://coronavirus.utah.gov/
Centers for Disease Control https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
National Sexual Violence Resource Center -Disaster Preparedness
Here are the steps we have started to take for Wasatch Forensic Nurses in Utah County. Nothing is
finalized and I am sharing this so you can see what kinds of things we considering.
1. We are concerned that emergency rooms may become overcrowded with infected patients.
2. We have identified an alternative site for care and are seeking permission from the Gappmayer
Clinic to use their exam room to provide medical forensic exams 24/7 if the EDs become
3. We will need to determine a contact person at all of the Utah Valley hospitals to keep informed
of room availability.
4. If we need to use the clinic, we will need to notify law enforcement about contacting WFN
before they send a patient to any location for an exam.
5. Nurses will need to be able to screen sexual assault patients before they are sent to the clinic.
Screening is important for both potential COVID-19 infection and medical conditions that would
make it inappropriate to be seen in a clinic setting ex. Unconsciousness, bleeding. Unless nurses
have the proper infection equipment patient with the virus should be seen in a hospital setting.
Remember the medial needs of the patient are always the first priority.
6. Advocate will be notified to respond to where the patient is being seen.
7. Other things to consider – How will you provide supplies and medications if you are seeing your
patient in a different location.? Is your alternative site safe at night and handicap accessible?
8. We have not thought of everything and going through a practice run might help identify gaps in
Please take care of yourself and try to eat right and get plenty of rest. This may take a few weeks or
months to completely resolve and we want you safe and healthy for the long run. Remember you do
amazing work every day and make an incredible difference in the lives of survivors. Feel free to reach
out to UCASA if you need help or support.
Statewide SANE Coordinator
Salt Lake City, Utah, September 4, 2019 -- Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault (UCASA) Opposes “Do it Yourself” Rape Kits. Students returning to classes this fall may be receiving advertising about “do to yourself” sexual assault evidence collection kits. The Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault (UCASA) would like survivors of rape and sexual assault to know that there is help available by calling the Statewide 24 Hour Sexual Violence Crisis and Information Hotline at 801-421-1100. One phone call connects a survivor with a trained rape crisis advocate who can discuss options for obtaining a medical forensic examination that includes a thorough medical evaluation, forensic evidence collection and treatment to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
UCASA understands that in the aftermath of a sexual assault, survivors may need time before deciding whether or not to participate with the criminal justice system. In Utah adult sexual assault survivors can have evidence collected and sent for analysis without being interviewed by law enforcement. It is important for survivors of rape and sexual assault to have choices that are meaningful, including the ability to preserve forensic evidence in a manner can be used to prosecute cases of sexual violence. At this time “do it yourself kits’” have multiple limitations. There is no guarantee that these kits will be accepted by law enforcement or can be analyzed by crime labs. Survivors who use these kits are not connected to important community resources including counseling, medical care and ongoing services to support them if they choose to engage with the criminal justice system. UCASA wants every survivor to be provided with individualized support and care that is often needed to start the process of healing after a sexual assault. UCASA works closely with victim advocates and sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs) to make sure survivors obtain the trauma-informed and victim-centered care they need.
# # #
If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Board Chair, CoCo James at (801) 347-6094 or SANE Program Manager, Susan Chasson at (801) 376-6962.
She was sexually abused by her step-grandfather until she was 12 years old. She was raped in the desert as a 15-year-old. And when she was a 16-year-old witness in a trial against a white supremacist who killed two of her friends, she was sexually abused by a federal prosecutor.
Terry Mitchell didn’t understand why it kept happening, why she was repeatedly sexually abused.
“It’s very easy to blame yourself and say, ‘What is it about me that this stuff keep happening? Why does this always happen to me? I must [have done] something to deserve this,’ ” Mitchell told an audience at Salt Lake Community College.
Tuesday afternoon was not the first time she has publicly told her story. Nor was it the first time ABC 4 News reporter Kim Fischer, her fellow panelist, told her own story, that she had been sexually abused as a child and as an adult.
And it likely won’t be the last time either of the women tells her story.
“It thrives in the darkness. It thrives in silence,” Fischer said. “When we’re not talking about it, it continues to happen.”
Fischer, Mitchell and two other panelists talked about the abuse they survived and how they’re coping now.
“If somebody ever comes to you to disclose that they have been a victim of abuse — whether it’s sexual assault, violence, whatever — I would love you to start by believing,” Fischer said.
Even though she didn’t have bruises to prove it, it happened to Psarah Johnson, an activist for people with disabilities, who was psychologically abused by her father.
Johnson’s father made her feel that she was less-than. Even though she had high self-esteem, he convinced her that nobody else could see what she saw in herself, she said.
“There are so many ways you can be harmed, and if you don’t understand the language of victims … abuse is tricky because it can be subtle,” Mitchell said. “It starts out like a whisper but by the time it’s a roar, you don’t know where to go and a lot of times victims just fold in.”
Lesa Bird, who works at the Thayne Center for Science and Learning at Salt Lake Community College, was abused by her mother when she was young and physically abused by her husband.
The abuse started when Bird got pregnant and continued when she tried to leave him. The couple remarried twice before she escaped for good.
“We had such a good relationship when we were dating,” she said. “I just don’t know where it all went wrong.”
Fischer had been abused by her mother’s brother. When she finally told her mother, the woman said, “Good little girls don’t talk like that,” Fischer remembered.
She eventually told her father, who brought the information to police. Her abuser was sentenced to probation.
“I wish I could tell you that it is well-prosecuted now, but it’s not,” Fischer said. “I’ve done several stories on rape in Utah courts and how we’re just missing the mark, over and over again. And it’s because we don’t do a good job as a community, of believing someone.”
Mitchell accused a federal prosecutor of sexually abusing her before, during and after a 1981 civil rights trial in which she was a witness.
White supremacist Joseph Paul Franklin killed the two friends with whom she was jogging in Liberty Park. Her 16-year-old mind shut down and buried the alleged abuse for years. The prosecutor, Richard W. Roberts, who became a federal judge in Washington, D.C., announced his retirement the day the allegations were publicized by Mitchell’s March 2016 lawsuit against him, and never faced judicial discipline.
Accountability, Mitchell said, is crucial.
“It’s OK to ask for accountability,” she said. “You deserve an apology. You deserve to have some reciprocity when it comes to respect.”
And to process the abuse and move on.
How have you coped? Fischer asked panel members.
Writing. Art. Crying in a hot shower.
And each woman said she talks to someone.
Fischer talks to a counselor every two weeks, she said.
“If there is anyone in this audience who has experienced abuse of any kind, there is help out there,” Fischer said. “There’s always somebody out there available to speak with you if you need the help.”
Free, confidential resources are available through the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault hotline at 801-746-0404 and the Utah Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-897-LINK (5465). More information can be found at ucasa.org and udvc.org.
SALT LAKE CITY — Flashback: Imagine it's 1954. Charles and Shirley meet at a church dance, introduced by friends, where they sway to Dean Martin's "That's Amore." After several dates to the drive-in and school sporting events, they actually fall in “amore.”
Flash forward: It's 2018. Steven and Tara match on the dating app Tinder. After first meeting up to go snowshoeing, they soon become "inseparable." Eventually, they're an embodiment of #relationshipgoals, Instagram-style.
Love may be the same, but the way many people go about finding it has changed.
But with more and more people using online dating sites comes rising concerns about personal safety.
According to Pew Research Center, 45 percent of those who use online dating apps and websites believe that it is a "more dangerous way" to meet people than traditional methods.
While there are no U.S. statistics that explore the relationship between online dating and assaults, several Utah cases in the past year of men accused of sexually assaulting women they met on dating apps have caught the attention of police and a victims advocacy group.
Turner Bitton, executive director of the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, believes the prevalence of social media and online interaction in our lives "changes our understanding of what consent is."
"You're more able to erase boundaries between you and another person," Bitton added.
'Swiping' a soul mate
Tara and Steven Minert found each other among the millions of people who signed up for Tinder in the early days of the dating app craze.
Tinder allows users to "swipe right" on the profiles of people they may be interested in and "swipe left" on those they are not. If both people "swipe right" on each other's profiles, a "match" is made.
The Minerts met in March 2014. She needed to find a date so she wouldn't be "the fifth wheel" with her friends while snowshoeing. She perused her Tinder matches to find someone who might be up for the adventure.
It turned out to truly be a match. "We were pretty much inseparable after that," Tara Minert said. "I am forever grateful to Tinder and this crazy idea that brought him into my life."
They have now been married for more than three years and have a 1-year-old daughter.
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) - A vulgar package elicits strong words from Turner Bitton, the Executive Director of the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault. "I don't care if you agree or disagree with the work that we do, there is no place for intimidation."
But that's exactly what UCASA employees say the package was supposed to do, intimidate. News4Utah's Kim Fischer explains what was in that box, and what happened when she went to find the sender.
The team at UCASA works every day to help victims of sexual violence. So when they got an unusual package, out of the blue, they knew exactly what they were dealing with.
"It actually angers me a lot because we spend a lot of time in this work talking about the trauma people experience by doing this work. And then to have somebody take advantage of that and attempt to instill fear in somebody it just infuriates me," Bitton said.
The box was addressed to one employee who we are not naming. Inside the box was a sex toy. A used sex toy.
"That’s not what Utah is about," Bitton said.
There was also a letter made out to that specific employee, saying the sender was her "valentine." the letter claimed the sexually charged item was supposed to help her relax.
"Unidentified packages like this are meant to send fear," Bitton said.
But there was one identifying marker, a name and address on the outside of the box. So I went to that address and knocked and knocked. While I heard someone inside, they never came to the door. So I drove back to the station and called the man's cell phone and left him a message.
"Hi this is Kim Fischer with News4Utah. I just came by your house a short time ago to talk to you about a mysterious package that looks to have come from you to an employee at UCASA."
I never got a response. The staff at UCASA also called police, but, "unfortunately it's a non-criminal matter, anyone can send a package to anyone as long as it's not dangerous," Bitton explained.
However, police say they have the incident on record. Bitton said he just wants people to know this kind of harassment is not ok. It’s not a joke.
"There’s a sense of responsibility that we have to have as a community and really say that violence and intimidation have no place in what would otherwise be a civil discourse," he said. Especially intimidation this vulgar.
If you are ever targeted like this police say do give them a call so they can at least take note of the situation. And if you need someone to talk to you can download the Safe UT App and talk or text with a counselor 24-7. Just click here.
As new accusations continue to be reported every day — across the world and here at Utah State University — leaders of an on-campus club have urged caution against jumping to conclusions regarding sexual assault.
During the fall 2017 semester, a politically conservative club distributed flyers on USU’s Logan campus advocating for people who, according to the flyer, were “falsely accused of sexual assault.”
Young Americans for Freedom, a USU Student Association-sanctioned club and a branch of a nationwide organization, promotes traditional values and free speech, said club president Taylor Cripe.
While Cripe acknowledged sexual assault as a major problem that deserves attention, she said it’s important to acknowledge that men’s lives are sometimes ruined by being falsely accused of sexual assault.
“That’s a serious crime to be falsely accused of,” Cripe said. “We think it’s important to see both sides of that — the women who have been abused, but also the men who have been falsely accused.”
Turner Bitton, the executive director of the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said this message may actually discourage victims from reporting.
“Every time a survivor sees something like ‘falsely accused’ or ‘liar,’” he said, “it puts an icy chill on our efforts to get folks to come forward who have been victimized by sexual assault.”
Bitton also expressed concern over the statistics cited on the YAF flyer. It cites data from an academic study claiming that 2 to 10 percent of sexual assault reports are false, and that more than 40 percent are unsubstantiated.
“They’re essentially indicating that they believe up to 40 percent are false accusations,” he said, “which is ‘provably false,’ to use their language.”
According to the USU Department of Public Safety’s 2017 campus security report, of all crimes reported on-campus from 2014 to 2016 only two of 84 were declared unfounded, meaning they were “found to be false or baseless” by law enforcement officials. This statistic does not include arrests for drug, alcohol or firearm possession.
While Bitton acknowledged the 2 to 10 percent figure is technically correct according to the study, he said the number of false reports is often inflated because different states and law enforcement entities have different ways of categorizing and defining false accusations. Some may classify a lack of sufficient evidence as a false report, while others may do the same if the survivor chooses not to testify in court.
“These statistics that basically reinforce the societal narrative that people who accuse others of sexual misconduct are lying,” he said. “It sends an icy message through the community that if you come forward as a sexual assault survivor, you’re not going to be believed.”
Bitton said the coalition has a campaign called “Start by Believing,” which promotes the idea that if someone discloses to you that they were the victim of sexual assault, “your only job is to start by believing.”
Cripe and YAF vice president Parker Jackson say otherwise.
“The legal system says innocent until proven guilty,” Jackson said. “We like to give people presumption of innocence until there’s compelling evidence, one way or the other.”
Jackson and Cripe also said college campuses have a problem of not giving the accused parties due process.
“Even if falsely accused,” their flyer reads, “universities often take disciplinary action without granting you your constitutional rights to due process.”
Bitton, however, said this is not the case, and that universities are required by law to represent both students – the complainant and the respondent – equally in all investigations.
“I can speak to my personal experience with Utah State,” Bitton said, “that the school is very committed to representing the rights of both people.”
Cripe said the club’s flyers were approved by the university to be distributed and placed on the information desk in the Taggart Student Center, but they did receive some backlash on Facebook when they posted the images. She was fine with that though, and said she is willing to have an open conversation about it with anyone.
“If we had been denying that women are sexually assaulted, then you would have fair grounds to be a bit more defensive,” she said. “But to pretend like there isn’t a problem with men being falsely accused of sexual assault is not fair to the question.”
While the issue of sexual assault has stirred up some controversy, it is not the club’s main focus. They promote traditional values, conservatism and capitalism. Their meetings are held every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in room 335 of the TSC, and are open to the public.
The “very best” prevention method, Bitton said, is affirmative consent and constant communication in sexual and dating relationships. He also said a “consistent ethic of consent” needs to develop in all relationships.
However, Bitton said the biggest responsibility for prevention falls on a specific group of people.
“At the end of the day, the person who is most responsible for preventing sexual assault is the person who commits the sexual assault or harassment,” Bitton said.
Sexual assault resources for USU students:
- To report misconduct contact the USU Title IX office which can be reached at (435) 797-1266
- For confidential counseling, the SAAVI and CAPS office are free to students and can be reached at (435)-797-7273 and (435)-797-1012 respectively.
SALT LAKE CITY — A bill which would have allowed universities to report sexual assault cases to police without the victim’s permission failed Monday amidst heavy opposition, including from BYU students and faculty.
HB254 was tabled Monday morning after the bill’s sponsor Rep. Kim Coleman, R-West Jordan, failed to make it to the hearing. Since the bill’s introduction, over 50 victim advocate groups including Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, RAIN, Safe Campus LLC and the National Women’s Law Center voiced their opposition.
The Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault held a press conference following the hearing to address what is next.
BYU forensic nurse professor Julie Valentine opposed HB254. She has been instrumental in reforming BYU’s Title IX implementation and also serves on national committees developing best practice guidelines for eradicating sexual assault at universities.
“On the surface, House Bill 254 might seem like a good approach to addressing campus sexual violence, but it is not,” Valentine said. “Every victims’ rights organization in Utah and over 50 national campus and victims’ rights organization oppose HB254.”
According to Valentine, taking the power from victims of reporting their own sexual assault will not encourage others to come forward, and when victims cannot come forward, they are unable to receive the help they need and deserve.
BYU sophomore Olivia Whiteley also testified against the bill after coming across HB254 while researching Utah’s Statute of Limitations.
Upon her discovery, Whiteley immediately wrote a letter to The Salt Lake Tribune which voiced her opposition to the legislation and chronicled some of her experiences being a first responder to her friend’s rape.
Whiteley’s piece was published in The Salt Lake Tribune and the sophomore was asked to testify for the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault shortly after.
After reading her statement at the Monday morning press conference, Whiteley said she felt stressed.
“Reliving those experiences and knowing that someone that you really care about has been violated in such an intimate way and been disrespected like that,” Whiteley said. “That physically actually hurts you.”
While Whiteley was glad the bill effectively failed, she was disappointed that Coleman didn’t show up for the hearing. She said she appreciates the intent behind what Coleman is trying to do but, “if you aren’t willing to listen to victims, survivors or advocates it’s not going to help.”
Whiteley said BYU has taken big strides in past years to ensure victim-centered practices are put in place, and she she hopes it will continue to improve.
“We also need men to get involved in learning about consent and participating in consent advocacy or participating in the women’s studies program,” Whiteley said. “Because I feel this is not just about women. It’s a men’s issue since men are usually the ones who are perpetrators of sexual assault. Preventing sexual assault is something everyone should care about.”
As a social worker, victim advocate, college freshman and rape victim, Amy Jo Curtis also opposed the bill.
“I know what’s it like to be a college student and have to deal with the everyday struggle of dealing with those inner demons, and I know what it’s like to advocate for those same people,” Curtis said.
After she returned to school, Curtis said she received university services which helped her feel safe on campus again, but coming forward needed to be on her own terms.
“I didn’t know who to go to or how to talk to anybody. It took me two years to tell anybody and it took me almost three years to tell my parents,” Curtis said. “It needs to be on the victim’s time because if I was pushed it would have completely fallen apart.”
Curtis added that if HB254 had been in place at her university she would never have come forward to university services.
The bill continues to pop up each legislative session, but this time it made it further than before, which deeply concerns Curtis.
“If this bill comes back every year as has happened, it will make it so victims are re-victimized every time it comes up,” Curtis said.
The bill’s main argument is that Title IX doesn’t provide enough protections, but Curtis said she believes it does.
“The Title IX document goes on continuously to reiterate that the trust of the victims and future victims is most important,” Curtis said. “Trauma-informed care sees that validation and empowerment are key when responding to the victim. What’s most important are the victims’ needs.”
Curtis said future victims of rape are watching how universities respond to sexual assault now.
Since BYU changed to trauma-informed practices there has been a 400 percent increase in reported cases, according to Curtis.
“The good thing about BYU and the 400 percent increase of reports is we now know who those rapists are,” Curtis said. “We didn’t before because people didn’t trust the state of the office. Sure, we can’t prosecute them, but campus cops can keep an eye out for them.”
Turner C. Bitton, the executive director of the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said he considers HB254 to be “an incredibly regressive piece of legislation.”
“Victims advocates across the country, across the state and in the local area all recognize that giving power and control, giving confidentiality back to victims of sexual assault, is the right way forward and HB254 is the wrong way,” Bitton said.
If HB254 comes back next year, the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault said they will be ready.