For many people, a first job out of college is a chance to get their professional feet wet, maybe learn a few helpful skills as they move on and develop their career.
For Jane Halladay Goldman, PhD, what might have been a casual, temporary job after earning her bachelor’s degree in psychology and women’s studies ended up shaping her educational and professional trajectory.
As a freshly minted college graduate, Dr. Halladay Goldman moved from Vermont to Los Angeles and started working as a receptionist at , a program of that provides comprehensive care for sexually abused children.
“I thought, ‘Well, until I figure out what my next step is, this seems like a really great place to explore a lot of different career options,’” she recalls.
Dr. Halladay Goldman fell in love with the place and the work. She went on to become the office manager at Stuart House. Inspired by her experiences there, she got a master’s degree in social work from UCLA. Then, as she pursued a PhD in social welfare, also at UCLA, she worked as a child advocate at Stuart House and an on-call counselor at the Rape Treatment Center.
After graduating, she returned to the Rape Treatment Center as a therapist, launching a follow-up clinic to provide ongoing mental health care for victims treated there.
Now, after 12 years serving as director of service systems for The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (which is also part of UCLA), Dr. Halladay Goldman is back at the Rape Treatment Center, this time as its director.
“I can’t even tell you what an honor and privilege it is to be back here,” she says. “It feels like the pinnacle of my career.”
Here, Dr. Halladay Goldman shares more about her work with the Rape Treatment Center, which provides free care to any survivor of sexual assault.
Q: What’s involved in your role as director of the Rape Treatment Center?
Dr. Halladay Goldman: The Rape Treatment Center and Stuart House have the most talented, committed and incredible staff that I have ever seen. Our nurse practitioners and social workers come in in the middle of the night to see victims in the clinic after working all day, and then they're back the next day seeing their clients. They handle such complex situations and they do it with grace, calm and patience. They’re able to be the emotional container for these folks. They collect evidence. They testify in court. They create materials and trainings for people all over the community. And I really see supporting them as being the largest part of my job — creating or maintaining an environment that supports them, so that they can support the victims of sexual assault and abuse in their healing and their search for justice.
Q: What are you excited to bring to this role after your long history with the Rape Treatment Center?
Dr. Halladay Goldman: My dissertation was on feminist organizations and how they incorporate their values into their practices, so I studied the Rape Treatment Center. And one of the values that really stuck with me was that everything we do comes from our victims. Every program that was developed was out of the experiences of the people that we were trying to serve. For example, we're seeing an increase in people who are experiencing homelessness and/or serious mental illness. So I'm thinking about how we can help them in a more comprehensive way, so that they can eventually process their sexual trauma. We have great expertise within UCLA, so I’d like to pull together a think tank of experts to think through our model and see if, in collaboration with our community and UCLA partners, we can better help people get connected to resources that lead toward healing and recovery. I’d also like to bring a stronger research lens so that we can dive into our data and share the wealth of knowledge we have amassed throughout the last 50 years.
Q: What do you want people to know about the Rape Treatment Center?
Dr. Halladay Goldman: It’s extraordinarily unique and provides the very highest quality of care to children and adults at every stage of their healing journey. Our forensic nurses administering our sexual assault exams are masters-level nurse practitioners who are very highly trained and experienced — they train many other providers in the state. Our counselors are all masters- or PhD-level therapists. The care is extraordinary. We’re also able to freeze evidence, and I don’t know of any other place in California that does that yet. Sometimes people might come in and think, “I’m not ready to report. I just want help preventing STIs (sexually transmitted infections).” And we will absolutely do that. But we can also give them the option of having evidence collected, because that evidence won’t exist more than 120 hours post-assault. So we can offer them the option of collecting and storing it. We won't give it to the police until they decide to release it. And they can make that decision later, rather than immediately following such a traumatic event. Often, they go to therapy for a few weeks or a few months and begin to process their trauma, and very often they’ll release it and move forward with the police.
Everybody needs justice, and it’s not all going to come through the system. And, again, that’s why our practitioners here are so special — how do you help victims seek justice? How do you help figure out what that means for them? We do a lot of work to help them figure out what they need to feel like some form of justice has been served. And this unmatched level of care is available to all, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at absolutely no cost.