Exclusive: Documents reveal how the LDS Church responded to MTC sex scandal

(KUTV) - On March 20, as a sexual assault scandal was exploding around former Missionary Training Center President Joseph Bishop, his son, and attorney Greg Bishop sent an email to 2News unsolicited.

In the email, he unspools a five-page dossier about the past of the woman who had accused his father of rape.

The email included the woman’s criminal record, alleged false allegations she’d made in the past, and jobs she’d lost.

It even included details about an incident that occurred when she was 17 years old. Bishop encouraged reporters to examine the woman’s past adding, “consider the source.”

In the last two days, 2News has obtained a letter that was written by David Jordan, a lawyer at the firm, Stoel Rives, acting on behalf of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The document is a response to a letter from the woman’s attorney, Craig Vernon, requesting a settlement from the LDS Church.

The document includes everything we saw in Bishop’s email, plus a review of her ecclesiastical church record.

At the bottom, the Jordan indicates that he sent the letter to Greg Bishop.

 

 

It appears Bishop took portions of the letter, and at times, repeated allegations word for word and sent it to the media.

At least three media outlets did stories based on the letter.

Jordan acknowledged that he wrote the letter and only sent it to Bishop because he had been included in an email chain by the accuser’s attorney. Jordan says he did not release the letter to the media.

Salt Lake City attorney Greg Skordas said the document was meant to be used for negotiating a possible settlement, releasing it was improper.

“It’s a little bit problematic to me that this kind of information is now released,” Skordas said.

Turner Bitton with the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault said even if the church didn’t put out the letter, the methods used in it are intended to silence accusers.

“It sends a message to that individual person, but to everyone else, that if you come forward we are going to dig through your past we're going to dig through your experiences who you are your very identity,” Bitton said.

Bitton also said the church has every right to collect the information it did on Bishop’s accuser, but said, the way they did it and what they collected, may not sit well with church members.

"The vast majority of people that I know that are people of faith who are don't want to see this kind of behavior,” he said. “What they don't want to see is the church engaging in a way that looks like a ruthless corporation at times."

Eric Hawkins, a spokesman with the LDS Church said in an email: “It is customary and acceptable for outside counsel to correspond with the attorneys representing other parties, including sharing information that may support or refute their claims."

In an emailed statement, Hawkins said:

As we've said in both statements, our work to address this matter has included the work of outside legal counsel to interview and investigate the facts and allegations. This requires access to membership information. During this process, it is customary and acceptable for outside counsel to correspond with the attorneys representing other parties, including sharing information that may support or refute their claims.
But it's also important to not confuse the legal and ecclesiastical lines. Attorneys are doing the legal work, and that has contributed substantially to what we understand about this case. But ecclesiastical decisions about Church members remain in the hands of local leaders, whose responsibility it is to determine how to minister to, discipline and care for the members in their stewardship.

This piece first appeared on KUTV.com. Click here to read the original article and to watch the video.

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‘It thrives in the darkness’: Four Utah women share stories of the abuse they survived

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.

This piece first appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune. Click here to read the original article.

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Modern dating: Do 'swiping' rewards outweigh risks?

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.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
The Minert family, Steven, Tara and their daughter Sage talk while gretting dinner ready at home on Monday, March 5, 2018.

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

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Tara reads to their daughter Sage while Steven finishes preparing dinner as the Minert family spends time at home on Monday, March 5, 2018.

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.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
The Minert family — Steven, Tara and their daughter, Sage — pose for a photo at their Centerville home on Sunday, March 4, 2018.

 

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Adult toy sent to Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault

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.

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Are there ‘two sides to sexual assault?’ YAF says yes, UCASA says no

YAF Table

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.

USU’s full policy regarding sexual assault and harassment can be found online under Policy 339.

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.

This piece first appeared in The Utah Statesman. Click here to read the original article.

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HB254: Bill related to university sexual violence reports fails

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.

This piece first appeared in the BYU Daily Universe. Click here to read the original article. 

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Bill aimed at campus reporting of sexual assault dies in committee

CAPITOL HILL – Advocates for sexual assault victims are claiming victory after a senate committee tabled a bill involving the reporting of sexual assaults on college campuses.

“The Utah Coalition is very happy today,” said Turner C. Bitton, Exec. Dir. Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

With time running out this legislative session, lawmakers tabled HB 254. The bill would have allowed a Utah college or university to report sexual assaults on campus to police – even if it’s against the victim’s wishes.

“It sends a message that your voices matter,” said Bitton.

Advocates say victims aren’t always ready to come forward and this bill would have perpetuated the problem.

“We get one shot to take our perpetrators down,” said Amy Jo Curtis, victim advocate.

The bill’s sponsor Representative Kim Coleman R-West Jordan, did not want to appear on camera for an interview, but sent the following statement to Fox 13:

“The bill to clarify schools may engage law enforcement when there is an articulable and significant risk to campus safety was not heard in committee this morning due to my being scheduled to present two bills at the same time. Opponents of the bill believe that a single complainant should have a veto over the school protecting other students, which is contrary to current law.  We need to ask ourselves if we intend to keep law enforcement on the sidelines no matter how dangerous a known perpetrator appears to be.  The practice of unqualified school officials handling these cases internally has resulted in a tragic number of victims who almost never find justice and a horrific number of sexual perpetrators who have found sanctuary on our college campuses."

“This bill is consistent with recommendations and cautions from both the 2014 letter to the White House and the recent response to our Legislature.”

BYU sophomore Olivia Whitely opposed the bill. “I've had a lot of conversations with friends who have been sexually assaulted," she said.

She says administrators have made strides to handle sexual assault cases on campus with care and confidentiality. The bill would have been a setback.

“I definitely think there's more we can do, especially on ensuring we have a campus culture that is friendly toward consent and encourages consent before anything else," Whitely said.

Opponents aren’t resting easy though. They say if the bill comes back next year, in any form, they’ll be ready to fight.

This piece first appeared on Fox 13. Click here to read the original article.

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Campus sex assault bill criticized by victims appears dead

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A campus sexual assault bill appears to be dead after advocates raised concerns it could involve police in investigations against victims' wishes.

A panel of Utah lawmakers said Monday they were tabling the idea with Republican sponsor Kim Coleman in another hearing during the busy final days of the legislative session.

Coleman has pointed to Utah cases where women reported assaults only to find university officials already knew about multiple allegations against the perpetrator and didn't stop them. She insists that should never happen.

Advocates, though, said even the possibility that college officials could give sexual assault allegations to police without victims' permission could keep them from reporting the assaults at all, undermining work being done to nudge up an anemic reporting rate.

The bill also gives people who report sexual assaults broad amnesty from school honor codes.

Click here to watch the video and read the original article. This piece first appeared on ksl.com

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Senate Judiciary Committee tables campus sexual assault bill

(KUTV) — The Senate Judiciary Committee decided to table H.B. 254, a controversial bill about reporting sexual assault on college campuses.

The bill advanced to the Utah House of Representatives in February 2018.

The bill was killed because the committee ran out of time to discuss the bill during their last meeting.

Any further discussion will have to be brought up after the bill is re-introduced during next year's legislative session.

2News will continue to update this story as new information becomes available.

This piece first appeared on kutv.com. Click here to read the original article.

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UVU student, sexual assault survivor encourages reaching out for help

By the time she graduates from Utah Valley University, it will be 10 years since Amanda Rawlings first enrolled. Give her a lot of points for tenacity.

“I had to take a couple years off here and there for my own mental health,” she said. That’s pretty understandable when you realize she was a victim of sexual assault when she was in high school.

“Being a survivor of that has completely changed my life,” she said. It didn’t happen immediately. “I refer to that year of my life as ‘sex, drugs and rock and roll’,” she said. After high school, she attended the College of Eastern Utah where she struggled, then transferred to UVU in 2010.

“Coming to UVU was a turn-around point,” she said.

She turned her life around emotionally, but brought a couple of things with her. One was her husband, Tyrell, who she met at CEU and later married. The other was a love for emergency services.

“There was a first aid course in my high school,” she said. “I absolutely loved it. I was a drama kid in high school, into gory makeup they used for mock disasters. I loved being on both sides.

She not only applied the makeup to simulate injuries, but she also worked to simulate treatment for those injuries as well.

She credits Tyrell with bringing her out of her other life. When things got hard one time, they sat down together and found a therapist who connected her with nonprofit organizations. Seeking help is the advice she would offer to anyone who is struggling.

“Reach out, even though that can be the hardest step,” she said. “It could be any trauma-informed provider, like a rape crisis center such as Women and Children in Crisis or UCASA, the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

“It is a daily reaching out that you have to do. I feel that is why I have succeeded. I have that support system. It makes things easier because now I have that network. It is the hardest thing I have ever done but it is worth it.

Getting the help she needed allowed her to get back in school and pursue her goals.

“I love it,” she said about her education. “Emergency services is a passion of mine. All of my professors are actual emergency services specialists. They have worked in the field. They have so much experience and so many cool stories. I absolutely love it.”

Rawlings hopes to go into emergency medical services administration, which she defined as coordination of those services. She would like to work with a nonprofit.

“I want to do that because they have made such a huge impact on my life,” she said. “I want to be a part of that for somebody else. I want to actually be working for a nonprofit, not just volunteering.”

Part of her current volunteer experience is working with the rape crisis team for the Center for Women and Children in Crisis.

“Our team is on call to respond in the case of sexual assault,” she said. “We have a team including forensic nurses and victim advocates. I have been involved with them almost a year.”

She has had an internship with the Utah Pride Center, doing emergency protocols for the group’s festival.

“It is like merging my two passions together,” she said. “I absolutely love it.”

She has worked with the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, in particular with its LGBTQ Council, to help ensure that the programs are inclusive. Another program she has assisted is the Encircle House, which helps provide resources for LGBT youth and families.

In addition to those pursuits, she works part time as a dispatcher for UVU Campus Police and full time for Northeastern Services, which provides group homes for adults with intellectual disabilities.

It’s not surprising that school has taken a bit more than the traditional four-year plan.

“I have been in and out of school, sometimes full time and sometimes part time,” she said. “It has kind of depended on where I was.”

She didn’t even know that the Women’s Success Center existed until about a year and a half ago, but now she has received a scholarship from the center. She said she was grateful for it and wouldn’t have been able to take her last two semesters without that financial aid.

Although her scholastic journey has been a long one, she is happy she has stayed with it, and even hopes to get a master’s degree in public administration in the future.

Women like Rawlings are encouraged to take advantage of the Women’s Success Center. The center offers women the support and resources they need to complete their degree and gain the confidence, opportunity and knowledge that come with a diploma. UVU is dedicated to providing higher education opportunities to all who seek them, especially to women. Those who wish information may visit uvu.edu/wsc.v

This piece first appeared in the Daily Herald. Click here to read the original article. 

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