Start by Believing: The Power of a Survivor-Centered Process
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Start by Believing: The Power of a Survivor-Centered Process

– My freshman year, it was
the first week of October. And I went uptown to the
bars with some friends. As the night started to wind down, I needed to go home, but I had always been told by my parents don’t ever walk home by yourself. I texted one of my friends to come and meet me at
the bar that I was at and then walk me home to my dorm. Which he obliged and came and picked me up from where I was. My partner that I was dating at the time was really worried cause he
hadn’t heard from me in a while. He called me and asked where I was what was I doing. And I said, “I’m walking home, “I’m having my friend walk me home.” And he asked who. And I kind of just remember
handing the phone over and him talking and
saying “Hi, I have her. “She’s really drunk, but I promise “I’m gonna get her home safe.” “I’ll text you from her
phone when we get there.” I don’t really remember
a lot of the walk home. I remember him really kind
of like helping me walk And really supporting a lot of my weight. And as we got to my dorm on East Green, as I was walking through I
remember glancing to my side and seeing a bunch of
residents sitting there. And I remember him
looking at me and going, “All right you have to act normal.” He kind of grabbed me
and just walked me along. And I wish someone had
just stopped for a second, and been like she can’t walk on her own. Is she okay? Even if I had gotten in
trouble with the RA’s I think I would have
rather someone else step in and walk me to my room than
the person who actually did. I ended up just passing out. Just from being super intoxicated. And then when I woke up, the friend that I had
walk me home was raping me And it was… (techno music) – The conversation you’re about to hear may be difficult. There is a lot of emotion involved. A lot of things that, A lot of horrible things
gonna be spoken of tonight. And this conversation is
designed to give you some idea of what happens after a rape is reported. Now please note that this is a case study of a single incident. No two investigations
are exactly the same. So keep that in mind as we proceed. (calm music) – [Det Austin] Good to see you again – These were the seats we were in. In October – Oh, we were flipped actually. – No, you were right there. – (laughs) – Was I? – You were on the end. – Man I really did
block out a lot of that. – Yeah I bet. – You know I woke up and I
could feel someone touching me in a way that wasn’t okay. It wasn’t appropriate. And then I realized
who had walked me home. And the fact that he hadn’t left. And then I started to panic And I kind of froze for a minute. Until I was able to unfreeze almost. I don’t know how to describe it. And kind of army crawl
rolled off of my bed and like tumbled over the side of it, and landed on my shoulder. And when I did that is when
he kind of freaked out. And kind of like got up really fast and ran out of my room. I was wandering around my
building trying to find my RA. And ended up collapsing
in the stairwell crying, And she ended up finding me there. And she took me into her room. And was sitting there and was
just trying to calm me down. Just trying to talk to me. She like took my make up off my face, which was all over from crying. And she ended up calling the police. And a police officer showed up. And took my initial statement. And that next morning
detective Austin called and asked if he could come and talk to me. (calm music) – When a brain goes through trauma it takes a while to
kind of heal and repair. She needs some time. She needs some sleep cycles. So just a quick introduction Hey are you free Wednesday or Thursday I’d love to talk with you, but you know on a Sunday
I don’t need to bug her. What happens to memory when
a person suffers trauma, just to kind of preface a little bit of some of the weird style of questions, and the process. Talk about, this is going to be difficult, or it might be difficult. If you’d like to take breaks. Please we can take breaks. If in five minutes you decide
you’re done for the day that’s fine. And just trying to
create a safe environment where she’s comfortable talking to me, but it’s not on my terms. It’s on hers. – The long interview was
a whole other experience. And as long as I live I hope I never have to do
something like that again. – So you probably
already remember the plan but we’re gonna play some
of the audio that we used for the Start by Believing event. Just so we can reflect on
that, see how you feel. If there’s anything that you
want to add or comment on If you can take a break anytime, you’re in control so you just tell us. So at first your parents were kind of trying to drive the boat. – Yeah definitely 100% – Okay, so I know before
the long interview your parents were in town. And you and your parents
met with detective Austin. Just to kind of talk briefly about what an investigation would look like, and all that. So we have an audio clip
from part of that interview where detective Austin is
kind of explaining to you after that I think the
parents left the room, and you pulled Brie aside, and that’s what this audio clip is from, so we’re gonna play that now. – [Det. Austin] Hey,
Brie, can I talk to you for like 30 seconds? – [Brie] Yeah – [Det Austin] With
your folks in the lobby. Everybody has parents. And I just want you to know. I mean I’m happy to talk to them, but moving forward, I’m
not telling you what to do. But you can. This is your show We are going to investigate
what we have to, but as much as you want them involved, or not involved. You know, I wanna just let you know that that’s fine with us. However, wherever you want
to be on that spectrum of like not telling them anything, or telling them every time
we talk, you update them. That doesn’t matter, but I just wanna let you know that, you know I’m working for you. Not them. I’m gonna do some things, but
you’re basically in charge. You get to make those calls And then, yep we’re
still on for Wednesday. And I’ll let you know if that changes and vice versa. – I remember afterwards my mom walked up And she was like, “What
did he say to you?” And I was like nothing. Nothing just you know making sure that we’re still on for Wednesday. – As I was at the hospital. I had already talked
to one police officer. Took my initial report, and I didn’t really know
where you go after that. – When I met with Brie that week, to begin serving as her advocate. And went with her to the Ohio
University Police Department for her long interview, and also to her interview with Ohio University’s Title Nine investigators to start that process as well. And I’ve been working
with her as her advocate ever since then. – So the next audio is detective Austin explaining
the role of the advocate and breaks and really trying to make sure you knew that you were in
control of that interview. – [Det. Austin] Not
skip important details. So I talked with Kim
a little bit yesterday just about having her in here. It’s been a while since
I’ve had an advocate here. We totally welcome you
to using that resource, and I think it’s a good thing. – [Brie] I didn’t want to come alone. – [Det. Austin] Yeah, no
we totally understand that. I’m glad we have this partnership. My hope is that Kim can
be a resource for you, but that what we’re getting is from you. If you’re having a hard
time explaining something, I’d like you to try to power through that. So things are coming from your words, and your voice as opposed
to being interpreted. But that being said, if
you wanna take a break if you wanna talk to Kim. If you want to just be done for today, and finish at some point. If it just becomes too much or like, This sucks, I need to go home. We can do it in pieces. Anything like that is fine. Bathroom break, water break, whatever. – I know what’s next, and I don’t like it The next one. I know what it is – When we get panicked we freeze like a bunny rabbit sometimes. Or we run like a gazelle,
or we fight like a lion. All of those are normal responses. But when your brain is about to die, Or in that fight, flight, freeze moment it stops caring about
organizing things in good ways. – Ready? If you need to leave or
stop at any time you can. – [Det. Austin] Can you
tell me about any noises you remember? Remember hearing anything. – [Brie] I remember him
like saying my name. I think he was trying
to see if I was awake. I think he was trying to wake me up. I remember him saying
my name a couple times. (slow dramatic music) – Can you tell me about any other noises? – I remember hearing him shift on his side next to me, it sounded like he was. I could hear him moving around. I don’t know what he was doing, but I could hear him moving. – Do you remember the feeling of where your hands were? – Yeah – Can you tell me about that? – (Brie crying) – Doing okay? (door slams) – [Kim] Being back in this
room and then hearing that, do you remember that
part of the interview? Or is that still, you do know? Cause I know, remember for a while, that part of the interview was lost. I think we took a break right after that. – [Det. Austin] Yep (dramatic music) – It was like I wasn’t
even back in the moment of me telling you that. I was back in the moment
of what was happening what you were asking me about. It’s hard listening to it on
stage when I’m giving talks, but being here and
hearing it all over again, catapulted me right back into that night. – I know we’ve talked
about cutting that piece out of the program because
it is really hard to hear. Do you wanna talk about why you’ve decided that we should keep it? – It is important for people to hear and understand the way that trauma can process in your brain. It’s just hard every single time. – [Kim] Cause I know you
thought you were crazy, and people would think you were lying. – Yeah – [Kim] And you don’t want
other people to feel that way – Yeah Sorry I’m. – [Kim] You’re okay. What can we do? – Can I go to the bathroom, for a minute. – [Kim] Do you know where it’s at? Want me to show you? – Yeah – It’s the first door on your right down this hallway. Straight down. – Can you kind of explain what the purpose of that interview was. – What that’s referred to is the FETI, or Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview. And this training didn’t change my mind on understanding, or believing victims, but it gave me a better understanding of why an interview might
play out the way it does. If you wanna think about
our brains like an onion, and the outer layers
are the real sequential who, what, where, when,
why kind of memories. That’s what cops are trained to ask. We show up and we ask who,
what, where, when, why. Cause most of the time that’s effective. The inner parts of our brain
are more sensory driven. And under stress, under trauma, the outer layers pretty
much start to fail. And to different degrees
for different folks, and so we ask questions in a FETI. Like what can you tell me about X, or what do you remember. As opposed to then what,
then what, then what. Because we recognize
that a brain isn’t doing that who, what kind of stuff. We get a lot more information, asking feeling and memory questions. As opposed to that who, what, why. – I remember I was about out of questions, but I wanted to try one
of the things they taught, which was try to use sounds and sense. And then I asked about hands, do you remember hands. And you like took a minute. I could just tell something was happening. And then you said
basically what I could tell was the worst part of the encounter. And I took my notes and moved on. You needed a break. Didn’t think too much of it. Then a year later Kim calls me and says, “Brie just remembered something new, “and she’s really worried
that it’s gonna look “like she lied, or left it out. “Does it hurt her credibility?” I don’t know I’ll talk to her. You tell me what it was, and I’m like opening the report, scrolling through. That’s on page three. No it’s not I just remembered
this, this morning. No I have it in page three. And I remember reading it back. And it was the most traumatic part. Your trauma brain flipped
that puzzle piece over. – And then when I walked out
it immediately went back away. – Because your brain was like
we don’t need to know that that was terrible. – My brain was just. It blocked it out. It was just like you don’t
need to go through this again, so you’re just gonna forget
this until you’re ready. And it took me a while, and then after really
connecting those dots, I was like he’s right. FETI really does work. That’s really insane. – Yeah that part never would have come out if I had done the tell me what happened, how many drinks did you have? What were you wearing? Why didn’t you fight back? What else happened? But through this different technique, it emerges. And then disappears. – I’m good What happens a lot for me when I start to kind
of get back into that, I call it my trauma mindset. I start to do this kind
of coping mechanism that I’ve done ever since I was little. It’s called like dissociating. Where you kind of pull
yourself out of that moment. The best way I’ve ever
been able to describe it, is you feel like you’re in a movie where everything is going on around you, and you’re kind of just
sitting there watching it. I’ve talked to other
survivors who are like, “Yeah I do that too.” It’s a difficult coping mechanism to stop yourself from doing. It can be scary if you
don’t know what it is, if no one’s ever explained it to you. Because it kind of makes you feel like you’re losing your mind a little bit. That’s usually why I’m like, okay I need to stop for a second. I need to go get myself back together. I need to reconnect, and then I’m okay. – Yeah, but your brain
doing that is normal. – It is – So you knowing that and
being able to take steps and that is a solution,
you’re never gonna kill that. Cause that’s what everybody does. – [Det. Austin] I don’t
know how much you two have talked about next steps
in the process and stuff, but part of sexual assault trials are super-shitty. There’s no sugar coating that. Because you’ll be on trial as much as anything else It’s not fun. It’s not designed to be that way, but the system has definitely
turned it into that. Filing the report and talking with us is part of the reparative process, but my best advice is, don’t
make this be the solution. Cause you could have exactly
what you want to have happen in a courtroom in a year. That’s not gonna change what happened. How you felt, and how you feel. – After my hearing with the school. I remember walking out of there and looking at Kim and being like, why don’t I feel better? I thought I would feel better. And I think I said almost
the exact same thing walking out of the courtroom to my dad. I was like, “I thought
it would feel better.” – The criminal case wrapped
up in December of 2017. And so we’ve met here and there since then as her advocate sometimes we
would just go grab coffee. I remember one time she emailed me, and she’s like, “Hey can we go get coffee and not talk anything about my case, but talk about social work?” – Originally when I came into college I was a nursing student. And after this experience, and I started working with Kim and K.C., and SAP’s office and everything. I kind of decided that I really wanted to do something similar to what they do. I wanted to be an advocate for people who didn’t have someone
to stand up for them. To, you know, that really cliche, give a voice to the voiceless. So I ended up switching
my major to social work. – A lot of our conversations
and our interaction now is helping mentor her in her goals to becoming a social worker. Since she’s decided that’s
what she wants to do. And really supporting her. And she’s out there just being
a normal college student. – My scenario and the outcome that I had. Is definitely not the reality
for a lot of survivors. And that breaks my heart. When people disclose to me about a terrible experience
that they’ve had, I just, I feel almost guilty, that parts of it were bad, and parts of it were terrible, but overall I can’t say
that I had a bad experience working with the police. And so when someone discloses
to me that they did, it just breaks my heart. – Had a piece of the case been different, And I knew it was never
gonna get prosecuted. Our long interview still
would have happened. It still would have been the same way. You would have had that platform. That chance to share and be heard. – My healing process has really evolved from I just have to get through this, to I want to make a difference. Being able to get up
here and share my story is actually a lot more healing than I thought it was going to be. Really just trying to make sure that other survivors are not thinking that they’re alone, that they have no power, that they can do nothing. Because me, myself. I am a survivor. And I am up here. And I am sharing my story. And I am using my voice
to tell other survivors that we can do the same. I plan on kind of being a trauma counselor when I graduate. And really just dedicating my life to making sure that you know this huge enormous problem, stops being as terrible as it is. And just, I won’t stop working until there’s no new
rape victim in the world.


  • Dennis Acosta

    Thank you Brie for your courage. I hope that the numbers at the end, which are frightening, can move up. It starts with people believing the victims and doing everything they can do gather necessary evidence and then follow-up on the evidence. Rape kits need to be processed because victims deserve justice.

  • Lauren Ashley

    Thank you Brie for yoyr bravery and thank you to SAP and OUPD for the support and everything you do for survivors!! I hope this video helps more victims come forward and makes them feel that they are not alone. This video helped me with my coping of what happened to me and I hope it continues to make a difference and impact in people's lives. 💕

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