BRAVE aims to change talks on sexual assault

By Michaela Cleveland, Staff Writer

Published in print Sept. 17, 2014

On Wednesday, September 10, UNCG students, faculty, and staff received notice about a sexual assault which occurred in Jamison Residence Hall on campus.

In addition to the incident report, UNCG police included tips aimed in helping potential victims learn more about what they should do in order to prevent sexual assault from occurring.

This is one of the things the BRAVE campaign is trying to get rid of. “We’re trying to change the way that sexual assault is prevented,” said Jeanne Irwin-Olson, coordinator of the BRAVE program here on campus. “A lot of the time when a sexual assault occurs people automatically say ‘why were you there?’ or ‘why were you wearing that?’ instead of trying to figure out why the assaulter committed the crime. So we’re trying to change the language.”

BRAVE stands for Building Responsible Advocates for Violence Education. The program was started on UNCG’s campus in response to the growing national statistics of sexual assaults on college campuses.

This is the first year that the campaign has been active on campus and received a grant from the Verizon Foundation. “We spent all summer looking at other bystander trainings such at UNC-Chapel Hill’s One ACT and Duke University’s PACT training sessions,” said Jennifer Hamilton, graduate assistant and Sexual Violence Campus Advocate. “The idea behind BRAVE is simple- it is ineffective to place the responsibility of preventing sexual assaults on potential victims.”

Hamilton said, “The only way to stop sexual assaults from happening is to stop perpetrators from committing sexually violent acts.”

Hamilton acts as a student voice on campus for the BRAVE program. “My graduate assistant position on campus is as the Sexual Violence Campus Advocate. This means that I am available to advocate for students who have been victims of sexual or relationship violence while on campus by helping with housing changes, class changes, and the student conduct process,” Hamilton said. “The other part of my job is to plan and implement violence prevention programming such as, Take Back the Night, Clothesline Project and trainings around campus. My role in BRAVE is to present the trainings and then facilitate an open and healthy dialogue between participants.”

Since the beginning of the school year, BRAVE has had approximately 53 students, faculty and staff attend the first two training workshops. “This is the first year that we have ever offered the BRAVE training so we really haven’t reached that many people as of yet. Since this is the first year, we are using these first few trainings as kind of a pilot program-seeing what works and what doesn’t work, and trying to fine tune it to make the best possible training that we can provide,” said Hamilton.

Although the program is still experiencing the bumps and bruises of establishing a new program on campus, they are hopeful that they will be able to reach out to more people fairly soon.

Olsen wants to have two separate training programs for Brave, one for students and one for faculty. “Next year, we’re trying to start a program that separates the students from the faculty,” said Olson.

Olsen stated, “We are also looking to gain the support of student athletes and Greek letter organizations on campus. Most of these students are in leadership positions around campus and can effect change. Also, it is a good way to provide community service.”

The next training session for BRAVE will be held Friday, September 19 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.



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