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Remaining Trauma-Informed in an Era of Changing Title IX Regulations


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Title IX experts Chantelle Cleary, Scott Schneider, and Sam Wilmoth present this special 90-minute webinar covering the principles of a trauma-informed investigation, the changing regulatory environment, and the trauma-informed approach beyond investigations. The presenters balance detailed, practical guidance with the realities of broader policy about Title IX-related issues. They help participants identify when regulatory change alters only our collective floor, encouraging them to reach for the ceiling instead. Topics covered include trauma-informed Title IX investigations, critical community partnerships, and coordinating Title IX training efforts on your campus.

Published in: Education
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Remaining Trauma-Informed in an Era of Changing Title IX Regulations

  1. 1. Campus Public Safety Online
  2. 2. 2   Campus  Public  Safety  Online   Remaining  Trauma-­‐Informed   in  an  Era  of  Changing  Title  IX  Regula7ons   Chantelle  Cleary   Sco<  Schneider   Sam  Wilmoth  
  3. 3. Assessing the Terrain 3  
  4. 4. Challenges Remain •  The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported nearly 300,000 sexual assaults in 2016 (Morgan and Kena, 2018). •  “In more than 80% of intimate partner violent victimizations in 2015, the victim did not receive assistance from victim service agencies.” (OVC and BJS, 2018) 4  
  5. 5. Trauma Informed Investigation •  A trauma informed investigation is an investigation wherein the investigators understand: – That trauma may impact a person’s ability to recall and to recount their experience; – The importance of minimizing the potential for re-traumatization of the reporting individual 5  
  6. 6. Principles of a Trauma Informed Investigation •  Properly Educated Investigators •  Thoughtful and Deliberate Initial Outreach •  Support-Centered Intake •  Trauma Informed Investigative Interviews •  Support-Centered Follow Up 6  
  7. 7. Properly Educated Investigators The folks doing this work must have an understanding of how trauma may affect: •  Response •  Memory •  Ability to Recall •  Ability to Recount 7  
  8. 8. Informed and Deliberate Initial Outreach Upon receipt of a report and prior to outreach, consider: •  Timing of outreach •  Method of outreach •  Possibility for collaborative outreach •  Frequency of outreach 8  
  9. 9. Service Centered Intake The initial meeting should focus on: •  Creating sense of safety •  Building trust and rapport •  Providing information and options to the individual •  Empowerment 9  
  10. 10. Trauma Informed Investigative Interviews •  Objective is to capture the entire experience •  Start with transparent overview of interview process; allow questions. •  Allow for a narrative response •  Interview for clarification, utilize questions that recognize the potential impact of trauma 10  
  11. 11. Trauma Informed Investigative Interviews •  Interview for clarification, utilize questions that recognize the potential impact of trauma: – What are you able to tell me? – Help me understand…? – Questions focused on sensory experience •  Conclude with setting expectations 11  
  12. 12. Support-Centered Follow Up •  Keep folks informed •  Continue to offer support and resources •  When sharing information learned, be thoughtful and deliberate about potential impact and method of delivery 12  
  13. 13. “It was likely, for instance, to promote the practice of so-called ‘trauma-informed’ investigation, which proceeds on the assumption that inconsistent or confused victim recollections reflect the traumatic effects of assault and are themselves evidence of the truth of the accusation.” 13  
  14. 14. “As a result, those adjudicating sexual-assault allegations are told, the absence of verbal or physical resistance, the inability to recall crucial parts of an alleged assault, a changing story—none of these factors should raise questions or doubt about a claim. Indeed, all of these behaviors can be considered evidence that an assault occurred.” 14  
  15. 15. 15  
  16. 16. “All of these categories simply describe ways in which a plaintiff might show that sex was a motivating factor in a university’s decision to discipline a student. We prefer to ask the question more directly: do the alleged facts, if true, raise a plausible inference that the university discriminated against John ‘on the basis of sex’?” 16  
  17. 17. Rossley v. Drake Univ., 342 F. Supp. 3d 904 (S.D. Iowa 2018) 17  
  18. 18. Rossley Facts •  Male Title IX respondent alleged that the university’s investigators and the appeals panel were biased by the gender-based “trauma trope,” which “allowed them to explain away [the complainant’s] inconsistencies and ‘counterintuitive’ behavior that would otherwise discredit her.” •  Also argued that the “trauma trope” led the investigator to testify that “he would consider it ‘slut shaming’ to imply [complainant’s] sexual activity after leaving Plaintiff's room was inconsistent with having been assaulted earlier.” •  Plaintiff argued that the institution as a whole was “victim centered” against male respondents, pointing to evidence that most claims of sexual misconduct at the University were brought by a female complainant against a male respondent, labeled complainants as “survivors,” and asserted that the general purpose of the “female protectionist nature of campus sex tribunals” is a “misconceived political effort to undercut fairness for respondents” – all stemming from the 2011 DCL. 18  
  19. 19. Summary Judgment Granted “[N]o reasonable jury could find that Defendants' application of the concept of trauma in their decision-making or Defendants' overall victim-centered procedure reveal they were motivated by gender bias. . . . Even if a reasonable jury found Plaintiff's expert's theories demonstrated the system was slanted toward Jane Doe because of the trauma-based approach, a trauma- based approach does not mean a gender-biased one. Courts have found a victim-centered approach does not raise an inference of gender bias. . . .” “The Court similarly concludes a victim-centered approach does not create an inference of gender bias without evidence of gender bias in its formulation or application. Plaintiff cannot show the trauma-based theories used by Defendants were used because Plaintiff is a man.” “Here, at the summary judgment stage when Plaintiff has had the opportunity to review discovery to demonstrate gender bias, the Court finds Plaintiff is unable to do so. Without more, a jury could find the statements and decisions by Defendants and the Policy itself reveal a victim-centered, trauma-informed approach, but could not find they reveal a bias toward one gender.” 19  
  20. 20. 20  
  21. 21. Norris v. University of Colorado, Boulder, 362 F.Supp.3d 1001 (D. Colo 2019) •  Motion to dismiss denied •  Plaintiff argued that the 2011 DCL’s mandate to incorporate a trauma-informed approach – namely, the position that hearings should be “conducted in a manner that does not inflict additional trauma on the complainant” and recommending “trauma informed training” – reflected bias on the part of the University/Title IX Coordinator. •  Court concluded that this fact, among the “numerous” other allegations and “taken in concert with the allegations of gender bias concerning the process of the investigation . . . provide some relevant evidence sufficient to find a causal connection and, in turn, render the claims plausible on their face.” •  Same district court rejected a similarly-situated Plaintiff’s allegations that a trauma-centered approach alone constituted evidence of gender bias and refused to equate alleged “pro-victim” bias with gender bias. See Doe v. Univ. of Colo., Boulder ex rel. Bd. of Regents of Univ. of Colo., 255 F.Supp.3d 1064, 1075, 1076, 1079 (D. Colo. 2017). •  Doe v. Syracuse Univ., No. 5:18-CV-377, 2019 WL 2021026 (N.D.N.Y. May 8, 2019) 21  
  22. 22. Solid Ground 1.  Basic initial interview approach with complainants and respondents is the same 2.  Interviewing for clarification 3.  This is about how some people respond to trauma 4.  Gender-neutral 22  
  23. 23. SAMHSA’s Six Key Principles 1. Safety 2. Trustworthiness and Transparency 3. Peer support 4. Collaboration and mutuality 5. Empowerment, voice and choice 6. Cultural, Historical, and Gender Issues 23  
  24. 24. Prevention •  Could be housed in other offices, depending on your campus model •  Either way, Title IX offices must be visibly involved in both Primary and Secondary •  Not all prevention is the same •  High-Dosage vs. Low Dosage •  Coordinated vs. Competitive •  Intersectional vs. Monolithic 24  
  25. 25. How Does a Trauma Survivor Appear/Present? •  Affect? •  Mood? •  Demeanor? 25  
  26. 26. What Do You See? 26   “Dude!  You  go5a  get  out  of  the  car!”  
  27. 27. What Do You See? 27  
  28. 28. What Do You See? 28  
  29. 29. Community Partnerships •  Sexual Assault Response Teams (SARTs) •  Organizations Representing People of Color •  LGBTQIA Resources •  Local Shelters/Rape Crisis Centers •  Local Centers for Independent Living •  Medical Providers •  Law Enforcement •  Statewide Coalitions 29  
  30. 30. Interrogation Room 30  
  31. 31. Soft Interview Room 31  
  32. 32. Evaluate What We Are Already Doing •  Accessibility •  Reporting Options •  The Experiences of All Parties in Our Process 32  
  33. 33. Evaluation: Interim Measures •  “Traumatic Incident Letter” for Academic Accommodations •  Feedback: •  “While it is critical that this student receive support and reasonable academic accommodations, the student is not required to describe a personal traumatic incident to her/his professors. For the sake of this student’s privacy, please do not ask the student for additional information about what has happened.” 33  
  34. 34. SAMHSA’s Six Key Principles 1. Safety 2. Trustworthiness and Transparency 3. Peer support 4. Collaboration and mutuality 5. Empowerment, voice and choice 6. Cultural, Historical, and Gender Issues 34  
  35. 35. 1.866.817.5817