Jennifer Freyd takes part in White House announcement

A UO psychology professor who is a national authority on betrayal and sexual abuse was part of a White House event Tuesday that included a major announcement on the effort to address sexual assaults on college campuses.

Jennifer Freyd was among the invited guests called to Washington, D.C. for the release of new proposed guidelines for combating sexual violence. The White House report calls on colleges and universities to step up their efforts to prevent such crimes, become more transparent about the number of sexual assaults and do more to assist survivors.

Freyd was in the nation’s capital last month to discuss her research as it relates to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, a group appointed by President Obama to improve the handling of campus sex assault cases. She met with Lynn Rosenthal, the White House advisor on violence against women.

Following that visit, Freyd was invited back to Washington, D.C., to attend the White House meeting taking place this week. The meeting is being hosted by the sexual violence task force, and the website reports that a number of sexual assault survivors and activists have been invited.

Freyd said she will follow the White House event with a meeting Wednesday with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. She will share information about her research relevant to Gillibrand’s legislative agenda on military sexual trauma and campus sexual assault.

Freyd pioneered the study of betrayal trauma and co-authored the recent book “Blind to Betrayal.” She investigates the causes and effects of interpersonal violence on mental and physical health, behavior and society.

During the 45-minute meeting in March, Freyd presented a summary of her research on campus sexual assault, including the results of a 2013 study on institutional betrayal, conducted with doctoral student Carly Parnitzke Smith, that appeared in the Journal of Traumatic Stress. Freyd described the meeting as highly productive.

“I was very pleased with how the meeting went. There was much information exchanged, good questions and thoughtful discussion,” Freyd said. “Lynn Rosenthal told me she would be calling me again. It is a wonderful experience to feel that our research matters in this way.”

Freyd’s travels also took her to Brown University in Providence, R.I., where she participated in a panel discussion with several other experts on public policy and sexual abuse, as reported in the Providence Journal. The discussion was inspired by the release of a new book by Brown University professor Ross Cheit examining a series of alleged sexual abuse cases at child care centers during the 1980s that attracted significant media attention.