Director of the PATH to Care Center Mari Knuth-Bouracee, Acting Director/Title IX Officer of the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination Cherie Scricca, Special Faculty Advisor to the Chancellor on Sexual Violence/Sexual HarassmentbSharon Inkelas and Chief People and Culture Officer Eugene Whitlock sent the following message to the campus community on Friday: 

We write today, in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), to raise awareness of resources available during the COVID-19 crisis to prevent domestic and sexual violence and support survivors. Experiencing violence or harassment is always a complex and painful experience. The current circumstances may be creating unique stressors, due to being in close or constant proximity with an abusive person, lack of access to resources, and/or physical distance from support networks. Compassion and kindness toward others and self-care are needed now more than ever.

First, to survivors: We write today with an unconditional message of support. Please know that despite physical distancing, you are not alone. There are many local and national resources still available for you and ready to assist you every step of the way.

  • Everyone deserves support and a comprehensive list of resources can be found on the PATH to Care Center’s website. For 24/7 urgent support, call the Care Line at 510-643-2005.

  • For those in locations with shelter-in-place orders, seeking medical attention or privacy in order to access support resources is an appropriate reason to leave your residence.

  • Consider creating a network of support that agrees to check in regularly and ways to alert them if abuse or violence occurs or escalates.

  • If the shelter-in-place location is not physically or psychologically safe, discuss safety plans and identify alternative shelter options with confidential resources. For students in need of an on-campus housing option, contact Cal Housing at reshall@berkeley.edu.

  • It may be difficult to find privacy for a phone call, consider using the chat-based resources provided by the National Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Hotlines.

  • Reports can be made to law enforcement (UCPD or local police department) and/or to the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD).

We also want to remind everyone that sexual and domestic violence and harassment are never the survivor’s fault or responsibility. Importantly, the stressors associated with COVID-19 are not an excuse and do not justify taking anger out on or harming another person. If you are concerned about your own behaviors, read about resources or call: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Lastly, to our campus community:  To help you prevent violence and support the survivors in your life, here are some recommendations during COVID-19:

  • Affirm healthy norms–virtually or in-person–by practicing respect and kindness, defining and expressing personal boundaries, supporting others by valuing and upholding their personal boundaries, and checking in with your community.

  • Engage in intervention even during physical distancing. We can intervene on social media, video calls, texts, as well as in person. Check-in calls via video and phone may be ways to buffer against violence at home.

  • Express support privately if you are concerned about someone experiencing abuse or violence. Check in with them, offer resources, and identify additional opportunities for intervention.

  • Express support publicly to ensure that all survivors know they are valued and supported and to promote prevention. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center, the sponsor of SAAM, has graphics and videos for social media and ways to get engaged online.

Managers, chairs, and faculty members, we know you are doing your part to make sure that UC Berkeley colleagues and students are and feel supported. We encourage you to send personalized versions of this message to your departmental community.

Finally, we want to send a deep, heartfelt thank you to the campus and community sexual and domestic violence response providers as well as the healthcare providers, first-responders, and essential personnel who are maintaining critical campus functions.

Click here for the original story.