Testimony to CO Senate Education Committee, April 19, 2019 by Hannah Rose
Good afternoon members of the committee: My name is Hannah Rose, I am a constituent from Englewood Colorado, and I am here today representing myself to urge you to vote “yes” in favor of Senate Bill 19- 007.
Sexual violence has been heavily publicized as a political issue, and I am here to say it is not. I am a sexual violence activist, and have been for the past four years, but I have never been sexually assaulted. In Colorado, I have worked at the University of Denver to prevent sexual violence as an organizer, educator, activist, policymaker and advocate and have had the privilege of knowing many survivors who have trusted me to hear their stories. I sit before you today to use this incredible opportunity to share their strength.
You don’t need to have had experienced sexual violence to care about this issue. My most profound experience with sexual assault was personal. My junior year, my best friend and roommate was raped by someone we considered to be a friend. This testimony is for her. I witnessed first handedly the detrimental impact that sexual assault can have on someone’s life. There were countless nights spent crying wrapped in each other’s arms, days where her anxiety was so bad she couldn’t move, and infinite difficult moments of fear and panic that I wasn’t there for. It turns out this wasn’t the first time he had been reported for sexual assault, but the two other survivors were so afraid of the retaliation from him or his friends, that they didn’t come forward. SB19-007 would protect so many Coloradans by training campus communities on the process, on confidential and non-confidential reporting options, on what kinds of support survivors could receive and most importantly would establish retaliation protections so that students wouldn’t have to fear reporting what had been done to them.
My best friend was brave enough to report her case to our school’s Title IX Office and was severely retraumatized. She was asked hundreds of questions about that night, and was so shaken from the process she decided not to continue with the investigation, in fear of being further traumatized. It is imperative that those who are conducting these investigations are educated in trauma informed practices, as this bill requires, so that survivors throughout Colorado can have a legitimate chance at receiving the justice they deserve and continuing to pursue their education.
At DU, I created and implemented policies, similar to those within this bill, that required students to be trained in sexual assault resources and prevention and have facilitated these trainings. I know how much of a difference that has made on DU’s campus. With our work, more survivors felt comfortable coming forward about their experiences than ever before. As of this year, 98% of first-year student learned sexual assault prevention practices. Think for a moment about the impact of that statement. That is the impact this bill could have.
I have seen sexual assault at a collegiate level, and know for certain that it is an epidemic plaguing young Americans in our state and nationwide AND I know SB19-007 will help us keep up the good and necessary work of supporting survivors in our state if you vote “yes” today on SB19-007.
Thank you for listening to my testimony today. I’m available for any questions the committee may have.