Johnson said her position is unique primarily because of the degree of confidentiality she is able to promise to students. Resident advisers and other University employees are required under federal law to report any instance of sexual assault they learn of, even if a student shares it confidentially.
Christi Hurt, director of the Carolina Women’s Center, said Johnson’s focus on interpersonal violence is especially valuable to students who don’t know their options.
Johnson said the hardest part of her job is dealing with her concern about the safety of students who confide in her.
“It’s not my job to be a detective,” she said. “If someone leaves me with the impression that they’re not safe, I worry.”
She is only allowed to break confidentiality if she receives reports of students endangering themselves or others or of child or elderly abuse.
Alban Foulser, co-chairwoman of Project Dinah — a student club focused on interpersonal violence prevention — said Johnson is crucial for students who don’t know all of their options.
“And now the University is letting them know all their options and making sure they know that, if they tell people about their experience, it will be confidential,” Foulser said.
Johnson said because her job is so survivor-centered, she escapes the challenge of balancing the survivor’s needs with the accused’s rights.
“That’s the line that (UNC) has to walk every day,” she said.
“My job is making sure the survivor’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs are met ... I can be a little bit more removed from the ‘he said/she said.’”
Staff Writer Kristen Chung contributed reporting.