Derek Davis had not been on the Syracuse University campus more than a week in 2015 before being swept up in the excitement of a once-in-a-lifetime discovery that would thrill the astrophysics world and thrust the gravitational-wave research community onto…
Getting to Know the Sexual and Relationship Violence Response Team
For any student who has experienced sexual assault, relationship violence, harassment or stalking, finding a trusted confidant and a safe space where one can share his or her story is critical. On campus, that space is located in a big yellow house at the corner of Walnut Place.
This is where the five specially trained professionals who make up the Sexual and Relationship Violence Support Team provide an integrated and comprehensive set of privileged and confidential support services for students. Based in the Counseling Center, the five-member team is made up of licensed therapists and counselors who are wholly committed to this work.
Collectively, the team has been doing counseling and advocacy for decades. Team members have held leadership roles on other college campuses and served diverse communities and underrepresented populations. The newest members of the team have come to campus from Vera House, right here in Syracuse.
“We really are fortunate to have some of the best counselors and advocates serving our students,” says Susan Pasco, associate director of the Counseling Center. “Everyone on this team has a background in trauma-focused work.”
And while they’re passionate about empowering survivors and raising awareness of sexual and relationship violence, the members of the Sexual and Relationship Violence Response Team say their top priority is to provide the best supports for students in crisis, in a caring and knowledgeable way.
Sometimes this involves providing emotional and psychological support. Other times it can mean accompanying a student to receive medical care or to report an assault. The team will also follow up with a survivor of sexual or relationship violence to provide ongoing counseling or advocacy services.
“What we have here is a comprehensive and collaborative approach that I’m confident benefits students,” Pasco says. “Students should know we are here for them, that we can inform them of their options and we will help them make the important decisions that allow them to regain a sense of control.”
Pasco and her colleagues say the recent local and national conversation about sexual assault on college campuses has helped to bring attention to an issue that is often uncomfortable to discuss. “Talking about it helps survivors to feel empowered, to speak up, to come forward and seek some sort of resolution,” Pasco says. “It’s so very important that survivors feel heard.”
Meet the Team:
Susan Pasco, Ph.D., LCSW-R, associate director of the Counseling Center, is coordinator of the Sexual and Relationship Violence Response Team and provides oversight and management of the team’s services in regard to sexual violence. Pasco has more than 20 years of experience providing clinical services to survivors of sexual violence, including a former appointment at the Syracuse University R.A.P.E. Center and previous leadership of the Princeton University Sexual Harassment/Assault, Advising, Resources and Education Program.
Megan Dietz, LCSW is the sexual and relationship violence clinical response specialist. She recently joined the University from Vera House, where she worked for 11 years in the community education program, as a victim’s advocate, at the emergency shelter and in the sexual assault therapy program. Her primary interests are relationship violence, trauma and family systems. Dietz earned a master’s degree in social work from the University in 2008.
Carrie Brown, Ph.D., is a staff therapist who earned a doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Kentucky in 2012. While in Kentucky, Brown worked at the Center for Research on Violence Against Women at the University of Kentucky and as a victim’s advocate and crisis counselor at the Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center. Before that, Brown worked on the campus of Pennsylvania State University. Among her areas of clinical specialty include LGBTQ concerns, relationship violence and trauma, identity development and substance abuse. Her dissertation, “Gender-Role Implications on Same-Sex Intimate Partner Abuse” has been widely cited in textbooks, on government websites and by Planned Parenthood.
Tekhara Watson, M.A., LMFT is a domestic violence and sexual assault therapist who also recently joined the University from Vera House where she worked for three years in the Office of Sexual Assault Services. Watson specializes in LGBTQ issues and has an interest in working with sexual, racial and gender minorities. While working at Vera House, she volunteered at the Q Center, where she co-facilitated a Youth of Color Support Group and mentored local high school students. Watson also has former ties to the University, having earned a master’s degree from the Marriage and Family Therapy Program in 2012.
Cory Wallack, Ph.D., is the director of the Counseling Center. Wallack joined the Counseling Center as a staff therapist in 2003 and has been the center’s director since 2009. He has considerable experience providing community-based trauma care and has worked with numerous survivors while at Syracuse University. Wallack’s professional interests include working with students who have been victimized, students who are experiencing grief/loss and students with eating/body image concerns. In addition to his responsibilities within the Counseling Center, Wallack is an adjunct faculty member in the School of Education’s Counseling and Human Services Department, where he teaches crisis intervention.
To access the on-campus, confidential and privileged resources of the Sexual and Relationship Violence Response Team, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, call 315-443-4715.