Episode 61: Uplifting Survivors of Sexual Violence with Emma Collins

Content Warning: Discussion of sexual and domestic violence, please listen with care.
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual and/or domestic violence/abuse, you can find support through: RAINN & RSVP (for USC community). More resources available here.

In Episode 61, Dan Dissinger & special guest host Danielle Lee talk to USC alum Emma Collins about being an advocate for survivors of relationship and sexual violence, working for RSVP (Relationship & Sexual Violence Prevention Services) at USC, and rape culture on and off the college campus.

Emma Collins (she/they) recently graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.A. in Psychology. She worked as an Intervention Coordinator for USC Relationship and Sexual Violence and Prevention Services (RSVP) throughout undergrad and is now pursuing a career in violence prevention and education. She is passionate about survivor advocacy, intersectional feminism, and building community. When she is not working, Emma can be found volunteering as a counselor for USC Troy Camp, a student-run philanthropic organization providing long-term mentorship for students in South Los Angeles, and creating art through various mediums. Check out her work on Instagram @StitchForChange (50% of proceeds go to The Loveland Foundation).

This episode was recorded on May 10th, 2021. Because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod

People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode

“I’m ready to not be a student anymore […] I’m excited to leave this bubble.” -Emma Collins

“In 2018, only about 30% of the USC body knew what RSVP was, which is so disheartening because it’s one of the only confidential resources around campus.” –Emma Collins

“I’m really glad that we’ve [RSVP] been able to amass more of a following and that more students are going to know what RSVP is […] and hopefully help facilitate a better culture around sex and around relationships on campus.” -Emma Collins

“Working at RSVP really honed in just how clearly I need to be doing some sort of advocacy in whatever field that I choose and how passionate I could be about something.” Emma Collins

“There was a long time where […] I really wanted to get a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and become a therapist, a really well-educated therapist, and try and make a lot of money […] Now it’s sort of shifted to how can my job position help build community and help heal different communities. [The] community I’ve been focusing on for the past couple of years has been the community of survivors and people that are impacted by sexual and relationship violence.”
-Emma Collins

“I think when most people think of a survivor of sexual assault, they think of someone that looks exactly like me, usually a white cis-woman [and also a] straight woman. When in reality, Black and Brown communities are so much more affected by sexual and relationship violence, and then we can think about the fetishization of Asian communities (AAPI communities), […] and Queer communities as well.” -Emma Collins

“There’s sort of this stereotype that Queer communities can’t experience domestic violence because the men [can be] also feminine and women all get along so well, but there’s actually very low reporting of domestic violence within these communities because of those stereotypes and it’s just something that’s not really talked about very often.” -Emma Collins

“[Being in quarantine] has definitely changed how I facilitate, […] and I think has made RSVP more accessible for a lot of people.” –Emma Collins

“We’re constantly putting new pop-culture things in [our workshops]. Our latest healthy relationships workshop has a TikTok in it. We wouldn’t have done that a year ago.” –Emma Collins

“If we don’t have these conversations [about relationship and sexual violence] it’s not going to change.” –Emma Collins

“1 in 3 women in The United States has been sexually assaulted, and then we can think even at USC […] the statistics are actually very believable to someone who understands rape culture and is educated on it. But, presenting these workshops [to the USC students], people are so blown away that even at USC 1 in 3 women has been the victim of unwanted sexual contact or sexual touch or something like that and those numbers are even higher for Queer, Transgender students, and students of color.” –Emma Collins

“We are raised in rape culture. I always say that during presentations, like, ‘You are not an exception and I know you want to feel that you are, but I’m here teaching this workshop and even I’m not an exception’.” –Emma Collins

“The way that we’re raised in America and in most places, because rape culture really is everywhere, is that sex and healthy sex is just something we can’t talk about, and relationships are these gender stereotypes things that are kind of set in stone.” –Emma Collins

“I have found that just doing this work, people that are so clearly in positions of power, if [they] understand anything about intersectionality, love to have some aspect of themselves that is a victim.” -Emma Collins

“The percentage of false reports of sexual assault is the same percentage of the report of false murders, it’s 2%-8% and that includes reports that have been withdrawn by the victim after being advised by a lawyer after more reflection […] Survivors don’t want to have to go through a trial and relive what could be the most difficult, most tragic day of their life.” –Emma Collins

“If you’re only going to talk about or advocate for people that could be victims in different situations when it serves your point or when it’s to go against women, that’s just unacceptable and is showing how much you actually care about these different things.”-Emma Collins

“Toxic masculinity isn’t serving anybody.” -Emma Collins

“My hope is that as we continue […] we’re able to slowly move more and more into rhetoric that’s actually productive and that will actually uplift survivors and help them heal […] but then also just educating other people.” –Emma Collins

“Advocacy groups and support groups like RSVP are more there to help uplift the survivor and help return agency and self-advocacy to that survivor, and not the other way around.” –Emma Collins

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