Phoenix Center responds to “Me Too”

Photo credit: Sam Dufour • CU Denver Sentry

Center’s resources useful commodity

Fall 2017 was the beginning of the “Me Too” movement focusing on raising awareness to sexual harassment and assault. The public saw celebrities release their stories of the corrupt industry as well as friends and family break the silence and describe their personal experiences. CU Denver students, staff, and faculty saw men and women bringing their stories into the public eye. This is where the Phoenix Center of Auraria (PCA) offers useful insight to the campus.

Photo credit: Sam Dufour • CU Denver Sentry

The PCA is a tri-institutional resource for students, faculty, and staff on the Auraria campus that are involved with interpersonal violence. They also offer education on the topic. The “Me Too” movement has been a catalyst in changing culture, and the PCA has felt the culture on campus changing.

“I consistently have clients that come in and will talk about it and how it’s impacting them,” Katherine Miller, Victim Services Coordinator at the PCA, said. Many students have found solidarity in the movement and have been inspired to step forward. “Sometimes, the ‘Me Too’ movement is what helped them to identify or name their experience.”

The movement has not been an all-encompassing success, though. The presence of the movement makes it difficult for some victims to be able to leave the past in the past. “They feel like they can’t get away from it. It’s everywhere right now,” Miller said. “It can go both ways.”

“I’ve heard a lot more about it in classrooms and in workshops that we’re doing,” Elizabeth Amoa-Awuah, the PCA’s Violence Prevention Education Coordinator, said. “People will say things related to ‘Me Too’ or to Hollywood that wouldn’t have happened had these things not come out.”

In recent weeks, released an article written by a woman who found herself in a complicated situation with Aziz Ansari. The story brought to light a whole new topic of the movement: the issue of explicit consent. “A lot of people think of the spectrum of consent as a yes until you hear a no,” Amoa-Awuah said, “but that’s not the case. It’s a no until you hear someone say go.”

“The person who is wanting to engage in something is responsible for getting,” Miller said. The Ansari story has soured the taste of the “Me Too” movement for many people. Some feel that because the woman did not stop the situation, it is not a situation of interpersonal violence or sexual assault.

“Something doesn’t need to be illegal to be traumatizing,” Miller said. Trauma is not something that affects everyone the same way. If someone leaves a situation and is suffering from trauma, then it is worthy of being addressed.

The PCA is not just a sign in bathroom stalls across campus. It is a place for anyone in crisis after experiencing interpersonal violence—directly or indirectly. In light of the “Me Too” movement, the PCA is continuing the conversation of interpersonal violence.

“We want to talk about this stuff,” said Miller. “People should come talk to us more.”

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