UC Berkeley’s PATH to Care Center expands support for survivors

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At UC Berkeley’s PATH to Care Center, survivors of sexual violence and harassment are met with a supportive campus community that helps people in their position, according to Mari Knuth-Bouracee, the center’s director.

The care center’s goal is to ensure that various options and resources are available to survivors of sexual violence and to provide survivors with support regardless of the actions they choose to take, Knuth-Bouracee said.

To make this goal possible, the center has created a team made up of two parts, Knuth-Bouracee said. The first half of the team focuses on the prevention of sexual violence, while the second half supports survivors through advocacy and healing services, including training for first responders to sexual violence.

In a survivor’s first meeting with PATH, they are provided with information about the different resources that are available. Privacy and confidentiality are prioritized at the care center, Knuth-Bouracee said, as well as the survivor’s needs.

Knuth-Bouracee said PATH is a starting place for survivors of sexual violence and sexual harassment to receive support and advocacy services and to be connected to a variety of off-campus resources.

“(PATH) started as one-person office focused on providing services to students who expressed a desire for advocacy support,” Knuth-Bouracee said. “(It) quickly became apparent to all of us — students, activists, staff — that the need and demand for our services was greater than what one person could provide.”

In its three years on campus, PATH has grown from a one-person office to a staff of eight workers and 20 student leaders.

Knuth-Bouracee added that, although the center does not provide talk therapy, the center does host alternative modes of care, such as healing circles and yoga, to help survivors recover and cope with trauma. The center has increased prevention consultation, and its services now reach beyond students to staff and faculty.

“(These) changes mean we’ve been able to provide more access to (survivors) … (and) ensure that, as there’s more demand, there is an availability of advocates,” Knuth-Bouracee said.

In October 2017, PATH was awarded a grant for $300,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women to reduce sexual assault, violence and harassment on campus, according to Knuth-Bouracee. This grant is awarded to institutions of higher education in order to further the development of survivor-centered approaches to support and expand campus services.

Knuth-Bouracee said the services PATH provides are headed in the right direction and that through PATH’s growth and expansion, the team has been able to effectively serve the campus community.

Knuth-Bouracee said she started working for PATH because she had been addressing issues of violence throughout her career.

“Upon hearing the cultural upshift and opportunity at Berkeley and engagement from students, faculty and staff, (I saw) the ability to work (for) and create a new center and make a lasting impact,” Knuth-Bouracee said about her decision to apply for the position four years ago.

For immediate support, survivors can reach PATH through its 24/7 urgent support line at 510-643-2005 or make an appointment with the main office at 510-642-1988.

Contact Alyssa Bernardino at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @alybernardino.

Because of misinformation from a source, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that PATH to Care offers talk therapy. In fact, PATH to Care does not offer talk therapy but frequently connects clients to on- and off-campus therapy resources.