THE PHOENIX CENTER AT AURARIA | ANSCHUTZ
As the nation has again turned its attention to the issue of sexual violence, the Phoenix Center at Auraria | Anschutz (PCA) has observed a mix of responses to the allegations being brought forth against Judge Kavanaugh. As the interpersonal violence resource center serving our four campus communities, the PCA wishes to make its position on some of the major issues currently present in the media stratosphere clear:
The PCA holds the position of believing all survivors. We believe every person who engages with us regardless of age, gender identity or expression, race, ethnicity, country of origin, immigration status, sexual orientation, primary language, religion, military or veteran status, or socioeconomic status. We believe every person regardless of when the traumatic event happened in relation to their coming to us. We believe every person regardless of how much they do or do not remember about their trauma. We believe every person regardless of how their trauma presents itself. We believe that every person and every person’s experience is valid and we continue to work towards a world in which this belief does not need to be stated, but is accurately assumed of all citizens of humanity.
We acknowledge that there are many concerned about the issue of false reporting. According to a number of large-scale, international research studies[i],[ii],[iii],[iv], the rate of false reporting of sexual assault sits at 2% - 8%. At the most conservative, this means that 92% of all people who have the ability to come forward and speak about the crimes committed against them are telling the absolute truth. As such, research supports that all people start by believing the stories they are hearing about sexual assault. This is not to say that no one ever makes false claims. However, the harm that folx enact by starting from a position of skepticism and demanding to be convinced (rather than starting from a position of belief) is greater by far than the harm experienced by feeling betrayed in the small amount of cases where someone is not being truthful. A study conducted by Dr. Rebecca Campbell from Michigan State University in fact found that “Victims may be better off receiving no support at all than receiving reactions they consider to be hurtful,”[v] and, further, that receiving hurtful reactions hampers many survivors from feeling comfortable reporting to law enforcement ever if at all.
Studies about the recollection of traumatic memory have made clear that it is nearly impossible for a person to recall traumatic memory with perfect logical or linear certainty due to normal, neurobiological processes. The time which has elapsed between a traumatic event occurring and a traumatic event being recalled does not have any bearing on the validity of the report.
There are many valid reasons that a person may not choose to come forward about a traumatic event. In fact, studies show that only 30% of rapists are ever reported to the police and only .6% will ever see the inside of a jail cell[vi]. The PCA does not stand in judgment of a person’s choice about when or even if they would like to bring to light their experiences. The PCA supports survivors of interpersonal violence – all survivors – at all times, regardless of whether or not they choose to engage law enforcement or campus authorities.
The experience of being triggered or emotionally impacted does not negate any survivor’s progress on their own healing journey. The experience of being triggered or emotionally impacted is not a sign of weakness. These experiences are signs of being humans who have been impacted by trauma. They are normal and they are valid.
Finally, the PCA would like to remind the campus community that we are available to assist survivors of interpersonal violence as well as folx who are supporting survivors of interpersonal violence during Auraria drop-in hours (8am – 5pm), via our 24/7 helpline (303-556-2255), or by appointments made through our office (303-315-7250 - Auraria, or 303-724-9120 - Anschutz). The PCA is a free & confidential resource for students, faculty, and staff affiliated with the Auraria and Anschutz campuses. The PCA is available to provide short-term emotional or crisis support, advocacy, and referrals for other resources. The campus counseling centers are also available to our community. Their respective information can be found below:
Together, we believe that we can continue to create and maintain a campus community where survivors are believed and supported. In this way, we can all contribute to a global society in which the same is true.