At Temple, resources are spread out across Main Campus, disjointed and independent.
The system has several different offices that can help start the process of support, and can serve specific, immediate needs for a survivor.
The Temple News found that if a student is assaulted on, near or off Main Campus, there are several resources or “points of entry,” including, but not limited to:
- Special Services Coordinator Donna Gray
- Tuttleman Counseling Services
- Women Organized Against Rape
- Campus Safety Services
- Special Victims Unit and Philadelphia Sexual Assault Response Center
- The Wellness Resource Center
- Student Health Services
Each office can start the process of reporting or seeking professional support. Instead of one center for psychological, medical, emotional and criminal support, it’s designed to allow survivors to choose where they are most comfortable seeking help first.
The Climate Survey from the president’s task force said more than half of the respondents reported they knew where to get help for sexual misconduct on campus, but less than half agreed or strongly agreed that they knew Temple’s formal reporting procedures.
Valerie Harrison, the new adviser to the president for compliance issues is expected to streamline the process by “centralizing” the university’s efforts to provide support.
“Victims of sexual assault are not the same and don’t respond the same,” Harrison said. “So for some, they may not be comfortable reporting immediately, and we have to recognize that and accommodate that.”
“[We have to] allow them to be who they are and to navigate the process at their own pace in their own way,” she added. “We’re just there to support them.”
“Temple should make it really clear what avenues you can take,” Taylor Davis, S.A.F.E.’s vice president, said. “Whether you choose to first call the police and file a report right away, or if you want to go to the hospital and start a medical exam, or if you really just want some crisis counseling.”
Her office, located across from Mitten Hall next to Saxby’s Coffee, has windows on three sides. Her desk gives her a view of passersby and the entrance to Polett Walk. But on a particularly sunny day, it’s almost impossible to see who’s inside.
“We try to be very intentional in terms of creating a good atmosphere so people feel they can come in and they can talk,” Gray said. “It’s nice because it allows for openness, without like, ‘Oh my god everyone knows I’m in here.’”
Over the course of a semester Donna Gray said she has about 30 conversations with individuals on campus concerning sexual assault. Her role allows her to be a “liaison” between survivors looking for resources, education, to start the criminal process with police or file a report with Student Conduct.
Charlie Leone said Gray is “on the front lines” and helping survivors “navigate” through Temple’s system. Her main role is to connect survivors to other resources, on or off Main Campus. With the priority of explaining a survivor’s options, Gray said she has gone to court with a survivor, attended Student Conduct hearings and regularly helps survivors file reports with Temple Police.
In terms of reporting a case to police in order to pursue the case criminally, Gray said often it can take years to resolve, meaning an underclassman could file a case that may not be resolved by their senior year.
Caroline said she wouldn’t have come back to Temple to finish her degree in psychology if it weren’t for Gray and her support.
“Mainly just knowing that there’s somebody there that understands and knows everything and knowing that I can text her or call her if I need to come see her anytime,” Caroline said. “She saved me here. I really don’t think I could have finished at Temple otherwise.”
“I think the scariest thing is, you don’t want people to feel like they’re alone in it,” Gray said. “You don’t want somebody to feel like, ‘I went through all of that, and what for?’”
She added that sometimes police may tell a survivor that even though they want to pursue a case criminally or through Student Conduct, there is not enough evidence.
“Oftentimes we have a tendency to think … ‘It’s all about the victim and the victim gets to decide,’” Gray added. “The reality is that, it’s not. It’s the district attorney’s office, as well as the officer, the detective.”
For Caroline, it was up to the District Attorney. In her report, she told officers she had no recollection of the physical assault.
“I didn’t realize who he was or anything,” she said. “But what I know now is it took place at like 3 or 4 in the morning, in my bedroom.”
“My whole being for the last year has been focused on the hope that he will go away, and I will never have to think that he didn’t get what he deserved,” she added. “But he won’t pay for this. And the law needs to change, really, is what needs to happen.”
“Typically there is going to be a degree of anger, and that’s understandable and frustrating,” Gray added. “Sort of feeling like, believe it or not, the system has failed in some way.”
A confidential office
For survivors in need of support, Tuttleman Counseling Services, the university’s free, confidential counseling center, has a team dedicated to helping survivors of sexual assault known as the Sexual Assault Counseling and Education Unit. The SACE Unit has existed for 23 years, and is currently made up of seven counselors, including Coordinator Aisha Renée Moore.
“We generally provide crisis intervention, advocacy, counseling and referral services for students who’ve survived things like sexual assault,” Moore said.
In addition to Moore, SACE is composed of an assistant coordinator and five trainees who can also provide services to students dealing with partner violence, stalking, sexual harassment and childhood sexual abuse.
For students hoping to address any of these concerns, one of the benefits of accessing Tuttleman Counseling, Moore said, is confidentiality. Tuttleman Counseling is one of the few offices on campus that is not required to report a sexual assault to Campus Safety Services. Kim Chestnut called all other offices on campus—besides Tuttleman Counseling and any clergy on campus like the Newman Center or Hillel at Temple—“mandated reporting offices.”
Moore said having a confidential office can allow a survivor to receive more information about the resources without committing to filing a police report or following up with Student Conduct.
To begin receiving counseling for sexual assault or to find out about other resources available on campus, a student must come to the center during walk-in hours, which vary by day. A student must sign in at the front desk and fill out paperwork, including a mood assessment form called C-CAPS. After that, the student can see a therapist in the center.
Last year, about 3,100 students used Tuttleman Counseling Services’ walk-in hours, Moore said.
Sarah Trotta, assistant coordinator of SACE, said the therapist will then conduct an assessment “to get a better understanding of the level of risk, the urgency of what’s going on and to provide a first intervention,” if the student is coming to the counseling center as a survivor.
During these walk-in appointments, called a “triage appointment,” survivors meet with whichever counselors are available, which may not be a counselor in the SACE Unit. But all Tuttleman counselors are equipped to offer help to survivors, Trotta said.
Counselors discuss medical, safety and criminal justice concerns with survivors and present them with resources and options to further pursue action within these avenues if they so choose. Counselors also address substance-use concerns, eating concerns, risk of homicide and risk of suicide.
Survivors are then seen back at Tuttleman Counseling by a SACE Unit counselor within two business days of the initial walk-in appointment for an urgent intake appointment, Moore said.
“We make room in our schedule for our SACE urgents,” Moore said. “So whatever’s happening, room will be made and we will meet them without fail in that timeline.”
According to a report released last April by the Presidential Committee on Campus Sexual Misconduct, Tuttleman Counseling Services is “overextended” and “there is a waiting list for counseling appointments, a situation incompatible for providing crisis services.” The report says that in its current state, Tuttleman “does not have the capacity” to accommodate survivors’ needs, nor to “develop an infrastructure for education” about sexual assault.
Tina Ngo, a sophomore who was in an abusive relationship during her freshman and part of her sophomore year in 2013-14, experienced this firsthand. She said she was referred to on-campus counseling after speaking with Gray, but didn’t receive an appointment until about a month after she went to Tuttleman during walk-in hours.
“It was physically, emotionally draining,” Ngo said. “It discouraged me from wanting to go through with the process after that.”
After two months, Ngo went to two more appointments to address the lasting trauma from her relationship—her academic, physical and mental well-being were all heavily tried, she said.
“That whole process discouraged me from going back,” Ngo said. “I heard a lot of horror stories and I did it myself, I did it twice, and I just never went through with it because it was inconvenient for me.”
Ideally, once a survivor is seen for a second appointment with a SACE Unit counselor, they will continually see that same counselor throughout the rest of their treatment, if they choose to pursue counseling.
Moore said comfortable language is essential in speaking with survivors.
“We might ask a survivor how would they like to refer to the person who’s harmed them,” Moore said. “Because using a certain word or using the name might feel triggering. … Of course, some people might be comfortable saying ‘rape’ and others might not.”
If a survivor has seen a counselor and is interested in a group counseling session for any survivors of sexual trauma who identify as female, they must have a screening appointment with one of the group’s leaders before they can regularly attend group sessions.
“They need to be sort of well into their healing journey before that,” Trotta said. “Because sometimes people do talk about their assaults and that can be very triggering for someone who’s not ready to hear it.”
Women Organized Against Rape
That night, Teresa White-Walston was in the emergency room at St. Episcopal Hospital for hours. She arrived at around 4 a.m., and stayed until the sun rose the next morning. As an advocate for Women Organized Against Rape, White-Walston made her way to the hospital as soon as she got the call that a young woman in Philadelphia had been sexually assaulted.
To this day, White-Walston said she can still see the young woman’s face in her head.
“You never forget,” White-Walston said. “She looked like 100 miles of unpaved road.”
Tears filled her eyes as she remembered the young woman, one of the first survivors for whom she advocated when she started working for WOAR in 2001. More than a decade later, now the director of education-in-training, White-Walston said she’s still constantly motivated by the personal interactions she has with survivors of sexual assault.
“You deal with all kinds of crazy stuff because of the job,” White-Walston said. “But what keeps me going … is that your life touches other people’s lives.”
White-Walston oversees WOAR’s preventative education and awareness programming for all students in Philadelphia, all the way from children in pre-K to college students. She’s been a guest lecturer for Temple’s Human Sexuality class and has co-facilitated workshops in dorms on Main Campus with the Wellness Resource Center.
When working with student survivors of sexual assault, White-Walston said WOAR’s job is to operate “parallel to university services.”
“WOAR is a resource outside the university,” she said. “Sometimes students don’t want to go to the university’s health services. They want complete anonymity, so they can come to WOAR.”
WOAR assists survivors throughout a process of healing. When a survivor initially goes to the hospital or SVU to receive treatment, the survivor can be accompanied by an advocate from WOAR, who will help them understand various treatment and legal options. Some hospitals will automatically offer the survivor access to an advocate, but in other hospitals, the survivor must request an advocate independently. Additionally, the survivor can call WOAR’s 24-hour hotline to receive immediate help from an advocate.
Advocates are especially important because they provide survivors with information that some hospitals don’t, White-Walston said. For example, some Philadelphia hospitals will not automatically offer survivors pregnancy or HIV prophylaxis, an immediate preventative treatment to prevent a person from becoming pregnant or HIV positive, and a WOAR advocate can recommend a patient ask for those services when they are not immediately offered.
Laquisha Anthony is a volunteer advocate for WOAR and founder of an organization called Victory Over Inconceivable Cowardly Experiences, or V.O.I.C.E., which strives to empower survivors of sexual assault through processes like one-on-one workshops, anger management classes and awareness events.
Anthony got her start as an advocate with WOAR long after she was sexually assaulted herself, as an undergraduate at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. After Anthony was assaulted, she didn’t tell anyone. They only found out after she realized she was pregnant about two months after the incident.
“I know that I’m helping someone to not go through what I went through,” she said. “That’s what being an advocate is for me: standing up for someone who isn’t in a position to do so themselves. Standing beside them, and doing it with them.”
Following the initial treatment, WOAR keeps in close contact with the survivor to help them receive regular counseling, which can be done on-site in WOAR’s office at 1617 John F. Kennedy Blvd, Suite 1100.
White-Walston said she thinks a rape crisis center on Main Campus would be a positive step for the university.
“To enhance what’s there is not a bad thing,” White-Walston said. “If you do expand your center, it says that student safety is a high priority.”
But Anthony said she’s not sure a centralized rape crisis center is the best way to maintain the privacy of survivors.
“If someone sees you at that location, then everybody kind of knows,” she said. “I think that’s the downside of having one particular situation. It could be beneficial, but it could be harmful at the same time.”
In the future, White-Walston hopes to continue to see prevention programming incorporated into Temple’s battle against sexual assault.
“If you only address it when something happens, it’s already too late,” she said.
“I would shout in front of millions of people if I had to,” Anthony said. “What I’ve been through is not in vain.”
Reporting an incident
Charlie Leone says underreporting of sexual assault is a problem. But when he sees an uptick in reporting, there’s no way to know if it’s because of an increase in crime, more education or more awareness on campus.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, more than 90 percent of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report incidents of sexual violence.
2015 saw a decrease in sexual assault cases. These trends are complicated, and often rely on more than one variable, he said.
Leone said if a survivor comes to the police to file an initial report they do not have to pursue the case criminally or through Student Conduct. Some survivors, he said, can file an anonymous report, under a “Jane Doe” but include details surrounding the incident like location, time and nature of the assault.
“We try to talk to the person and see, ‘What do they want?’” he said. “Of course from our end, we are always thinking of prosecution, evidence, that kind of thing. But there is also another side of us that we know there is other things that the person needs.”
“You have to handle this the way you want to handle it, and it doesn’t necessarily include reporting,” Olivia said.
Filing a report through Temple Police starts when an initial call is made. From there, an officer will ask the survivor a few basic questions, Leone said.
An officer will generally meet with a survivor to complete a report. From there, Temple Police will notify the Special Victims Unit in Hunting Park. An investigator from SVU will review the case and notify Temple Police if the survivor should come to their facilities for further questioning and to have a rape kit
In some cases, the call from SVU will not occur until days after the initial report to Temple Police.
When Olivia saw Donna Gray months after she was raped, it wasn’t until a few days later that Temple Police called her and—despite her protests—took her to the Special Victims Unit.
“I was like, ‘I have a lesson, I don’t want to do this right now.’ And she was like, ‘Well you have to go now,’” Olivia said.
And it wasn’t only like that with police. Weeks after her initial report, she was notified by Student Conduct that the university was investigating her case. When she was called in for a meeting, it was explained to her that she would have to tell her story to a panel of faculty members at a hearing with the perpetrator.
At the time Olivia would have brought the case to Student Conduct, the university utilized a student panel to hear cases. After the 1960s, Senior Associate Dean of Students Andrea Caporale Seiss said, it became “best practice” for a student to tell their story in front of their peers in Student Conduct matters. Two years ago, Student Conduct adopted a board of administrators and faculty members for sexual assault cases, and then in August 2015, Student Conduct hired former Supreme Court Justice Jane Cutler Greenspan to hear all cases.
For officers to best handle situations with survivors when filing reports, Leone said the department has “customized” training that involves equipping officers with all of the information they may need to refer a survivor to another office. These skills include interview techniques, knowing when an individual may not want to disclose certain information, referring resources and educating them on the reporting process at Temple, Leone said.
“Right now, [officers are] doing well,” he said. “We want them to be sensitive in these types of environments. Especially talking to someone who has been through a horrific experience.”
From her experience, Tina Ngo said she believes police aren’t properly trained to deal with the emotional side of responding to assault, and that sensitivity training could be used across the board throughout the process. She said often, she felt like she was the one to blame during the reporting process and in seeking mental health help.
After Temple Police had notified SVU and given the information from the report to the Dean of Students or any other “points of entry” offices that may need it, like Student Conduct, police are no longer involved. Leone said he will often divert survivors to other resources on campus after police have finished reporting.
“It’s not just us here,” he said. “It’s a group of us.”
The facility for Philadelphia
Inside the facility at 300 E. Hunting Park Ave. sits four different units: the Department of Human Services, the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, the Special Victims Unit and the Philadelphia Sexual Assault Response Center.
The facility is a place for survivors of sexual assault to report incidents of assault to SVU detectives and have medical examinations conducted.
Olivia’s experience on Hunting Park Avenue was brief. She said she told a detective her story, one that occurred more than two months prior and with little evidence.
“He ends it, and he goes, ‘Well, so this is a very gray-area case and nothing is going to happen,’” Olivia said. “And I was like, ‘Why am I here then?’ He said, ‘Well, you know, it would be really good if there were more people who brought up these gray-area cases, even if you lose cases like this, they are really important.’”
“Is this like you want me to be some kind of martyr for other victims?” Olivia said. “What is going on here?”
Since the incident occurred months prior, Olivia did not have a rape kit conducted. In some cases, however, if the survivor consents, a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner is called to the facility. It takes up to an hour for a SANE to arrive for an examination.
When a SANE arrives, Mike Boyle, the center’s program director, said they ask for consent to conduct a private and sometimes internal examination. If the survivor agrees—including signing a document to affirm—the nurse will inform survivors if she sees any injuries that are “probative,” Boyle said, and, if she receives consent, will photograph those specific injuries, like bruising and broken blood vessels.
Anne Marie Jones is a SANE who has been working at PSARC since December of 2014. Last year, she conducted 103 examinations.
Jones said before a SANE starts collecting forensic data—also known as a rape kit—they will ask for urine samples for a pregnancy test, an oral swab for HIV testing and an initial DNA swab. At PSARC, Jones said nurses cannot conduct any sexually transmitted disease testing or Pap testing, but can offer prophylactic medications to prevent survivors from contracting STDs they may have been exposed to like gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, bacterial vaginosis as well as a five-day starter pack for HIV testing.
Following this testing, SANE nurses will conduct a brief interview. These questions include details on the type of force used in the assault like choking, kicking or punching, and if there was ejaculation during the assault. Boyle said this is more like a “checklist,” and less like a “narrative” to reduce any kind of bias in a nurse’s report.
From there, the nurse will swab the patient based on information collected in the interview as part of the rape kit. This can include an internal exam to look for injuries and collect DNA.
Inside a rape kit—which is initially supplied by the police department and funded for examination by the city—are envelopes. Each has a label, like “rectal swabs,” “vaginal swabs,” or “blood sample,” and contains two Q-tips and cardboard tubes to preserve the evidence. This examination will take about an hour to an hour-and-a-half, Boyle said.
Jones said she tries to stay professional while conducting the exam and doing the kit.
“When they start breaking down and crying and starting to hug you, then it can be a little tough sometimes,” she said. “But you can’t really show emotion. We’re supposed to be in control and professional and we’re their first support and to comfort them, but there’s a line. You can’t be a friend.”
“They’re all professional and worked in various capacities in medical settings: in emergency rooms, on medical floors, so they’ve seen a lot of sadness,” Boyle added.
“This is just part of the job.”
‘I just want to check in’
Kim Chestnut said her role with the Wellness Resource Center is just that: providing resources.
Chestnut said any student is “welcome” to come in and get information or support around any topic of concern. For a survivor, she said, there are a multitude of options.
“Ultimately we say, ‘You have lots of options and you are in control,’” Chestnut said. “‘So, let me offer you what you can do moving forward and you decide what feels best to you.’ And so that could just be accessing medical and therapeutic support, it could be moving forward with wanting to do a police report. It could just be moving forward through with a conduct, internal Temple report. It could be nothing: ‘I just need information. I don’t need anything else, I just want to check in.’”
The Wellness Resource Center, she said, sees one or two survivors a month and more traffic in the fall semester than in the spring.
When Harmony-Jazmyne Rodriguez came to the WRC in the days following the night she was raped, she said no one in the office was ever available to see her.
As far as filing a report on campus, Chestnut said she “can imagine it would be helpful to students.” She said she supports a “victim advocacy center” on campus that would be more “thoroughly resourced.”
“As we currently stand, one entity can do certain things, but not really as one human are we capable of being a confidential reporting destination and providing all interim measures for a student that was assaulted,” she added.
Chestnut said the possibility of this is “under review” as part of the task force recommendations. She said additional reporting and investigation was needed from the university. So, hopefully that would provide “all that [President Theobald] needs.”
At the WRC, there is a team of students who serve as peer educators, known as the Health Education Awareness Resource Team. The assistant to the director of the WRC and the teaching assistant for HEART’s peer educator certification class, Morgen Snowadzky, said the educators lead “peer-facilitated programming” for events held by student organizations and resident assistants throughout the year, as well as for in-class presentations. These programs address sexual assault, as well as topics like relationships and alcohol education.
In addition to programming centered around education about sexual assault, HEART peer educators also assist survivors of sexual assault through resource referral and one-on-one consultations.
The survivor would then be matched up with a peer educator who is comfortable talking about sexual assault and provide the front desk with a list of topics they are most comfortable talking about with students in advance.
“So people will come in and be like, ‘I have this question,’” Snowadzky said. “First, we figure out, ‘Do you need like a doctor, or like a therapist? Or do you just want someone to talk to?’”
If a survivor requires more assistance after this consultation, HEART peer educators may connect the survivor with a member of the WRC’s professional staff to further pursue accommodations or to start an investigation with Student Conduct.
Snowadzky emphasized that while their office offers resource referral for survivors, its main goal is sexual assault prevention through bystander intervention.
“Ideally, in our world, we would be doing enough interventions that the rate of sexual assault would go down so the support services would be less necessary,” Snowadzky said.
“We’re looking to support people after the fact,” she added. “But we’re really looking for prevention, empathy and awareness.”
Seeking medical attention on Main Campus
Twenty years ago, Mark Denys worked as an ER nurse at Albert Einstein Medical Center, one of the designated rape crisis centers in Philadelphia before the creation of the facility on Hunting Park Avenue.
As a man, he was often not invited to assist in conducting a rape kit. His experience with survivors, however, is something he still remembers.
“I was often with the survivor before they would go for the examination, or after,” he said. “And it’s different every time. Sometimes they don’t want to talk and they don’t want to share anything, other times they’re sharing everything and telling you everything. So it’s really different for every person and the situation and what happened.”
Denys is one of the only administrators on campus who has extensive knowledge of what occurs at the Philadelphia Sexual Assault Response Center. This center, he said, helps keep evidence collected consistently, decreasing the chance for variables to interfere.
Creating a resource center like PSARC on Main Campus would decrease “hurdles” for survivors, he said. Nurses that specialize in conducting rape kits, SANEs, do not currently travel to Student Health Services.
“From a resource standpoint, it would be great for our students not to have to travel someplace, so I think from that standpoint it would be great … because it took a lot for them to come here, or go to Tuttleman Counseling or call Campus Safety, and then this is just one more hurdle to go over to go there, but again, they are the experts. It’s something we don’t do a lot. We may see one patient a month, we may see one patient every two months. And then we could have three in one month. We don’t see the volume that we become experts.”
“I want survivors to be in the care of experts,” he added.
If a survivor comes into Student Health Services looking for medical attention, Denys said a nurse can provide them with prophylactic medication and emergency contraception. They will also test for any sexually transmitted diseases. If the assault happened the night before a survivor comes in for an appointment, Denys said nurses will call the survivor back in a few months to be tested again.
“I wish more would come to us earlier and sooner, and for whatever reason, either they don’t know about us or they don’t know what to do,” Denys said. “Often times we may hear about it even six months later sometimes. They come in for their annual exam, and it’s ‘Oh, by the way, last September this happened to me.’”
Denys’ first concern at Student Health Services is to make sure survivors are “medically stable,” and that there are no critical medical concerns when they come for an appointment. After staff ensure that, they will connect the survivor to other offices on campus. Denys has drawn up a brochure that he hopes to display in their offices, listing each office and what service it can provide for a survivor.
If someone comes in for an appointment and identifies themselves as a survivor, a nurse will take back the patient right away “so there is no waiting,” Denys said.
“From the time we know, it’s only a few minutes until we get them in the room,” he added.