Learn about the project
Hi my name is Elizabeth Russo and I am an undergraduate student at the University of Utah studying psychology and criminology. I plan on obtaining my PhD in Forensic psychology after completing my undergraduate studies so that I can achieve my goal of working in the criminal justice system. I am particularly interested in offender rehabilitation and how the victim-offender cycle inhibits resiliency in many individuals. I decided to get involved in undergraduate research in preparation for my future pursuits and reached out to my mentor, Dr. Annie Fukushima, who has extensive experience in conducting research in my area of interest in the hopes that I could learn from her. My mentor advised that I begin by developing a question relevant to my interests and future aspirations. I was interested in better understanding resilience because I believe that knowledge can be used in rehabilitation efforts and breaking the victim-offender cycle in some individuals, which is what I would like to do in my future pursuits. I conducted background research while developing my research question and in my reading I learned that sexual violence is an un-proportionately large problem in the state of utah. Therefore, I decided to investigate resiliency after sexual violence specifically to make my question more relevant to my physical location. To create broader connection, we decided to create a project that would foster discussion surrounding resiliency after sexual violence.
Once I had developed my question I needed to design a study. I researched the literature on resilience and sexual violence and learned about the #SurviviorLoveLetter campaign and book, Dear Sister: Letters from Survivors of Sexual Violence which I then decided to extend upon for my research. We decided to use a letter campaign for our form of data collection. Additionally, we wanted our project to be community informed so we reached out to the Director, Brittany Badger and Associate Director of Advocacy Services, Char Leary, at the Center for Student Wellness to see if they would like to partner with us in our project. Excited about our ideas, Brittany and Char agreed to work with us, and representatives from the Center, Lou Vigil and Lizvet Chavez-Diaz, have provided us with feedback as we developed the Campaign. In our partnership with the Center for Student Wellness we decided to create a survey in addition to the letter campaign to gather information regarding services provided by the Wellness Center to make the project more relevant to our partners.
Participants of the study are invited to write a letter to a female identifying person in their life who impacted their resiliency after experiencing sexual violence. We recognize that gender categories are fluid. After submitting their letter, participants may complete an optional survey which aims to learn more about how people impacted by sexual violence may be better supported. Participants will receive a $20 Visa gift card for being a part of the campaign.
If you are interested in participating in the Dear Sister Letter Campaign and Survey you can visit the website of the Gender Based Violence Consortium at the University of Utah where the campaign will be linked on the homepage. I am very excited and grateful to be working with Dr. Fukushima and the Center for Student Wellness in this project and look forward to seeing the outcome of the campaign.