By: Princess Jones
April is Sexual Assault Awareness month and Trevecca’s new Title IX official is hoping to bring more awareness to campus to increase conversations about sexual assault.
“I think sexual assault is a taboo topic at any college campuses. The reason why is because college students don’t want to think of themselves in an unsafe environment. It’s a lot easier to ignore the problem and pretend that it doesn’t exist. It’s a much more prevalent issue than people realize it is and so, anyway we can bring more awareness to it can help survivors,” said Jamie Cathcart, who joined Trevecca this fall as the Title IX Compliance and Investigator
Title IX is federal civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. It also requires schools to address sexual violence or harassment.
According to posters around campus promoting Sexual Assault Awareness month, one in five women and one in 71 men are victims of an attempted or completed rape during their life. This information is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Cathcart has been working with students to plan events to bring awareness of sexual assault to campus. She said it’s difficult to plan events that appeal to wide audiences, but she’s had several students offer input about what they or their classmates would find helpful.
“It’s been nice that I have had so much student report,” said Cathcart.
For some student’s personal experience is the reason sexual awareness month is close to their heart, which leads them to help during these events. For survivor Chole Hamblin’hele, this was a great way to share her experience and help other survivors and people understand sexual assault better.
“I know what questions not to ask, a lot of questions are borderline judgmental and I think I have been through the mill of what questions should be asked. So, it gives me a better perspective on how to approach and even how you notice people,” said Hamblin’hele, a Trevecca sophomore and social work major.
Having conversations about sex and sexual assault on a Christian college campus can be more difficult because students can fear what might happen if they report sexual assault, HambLin’hele said.
“I think that its harder because you don’t want that type of thing to be connected to your university. You don’t want sexual violence to be connected to you, I mean you don’t even want people having sex to be connected to the university. I believe it’s way harder for people to come forward about it,” said Hamblin’hele.
Cathcart hopes this month is a learning opportunity for students to understand both healthy and unhealthy sexual behavior.
“I would guess that 99 to 100 percent of Trevecca students will experience a sexual or intimate relationship with someone in their lifetime. They’re going to experience the same issues in terms of being able to talk to their partner about what they’re comfortable with. These aren’t just college kids issues, they are life skills that everyone will have to need at some point. I think we are really equipping people with lifelong skills, not necessarily here and now in the moment,” said Cathcart.
Sexual Awareness tends to focus on female victims, however, Cathcart doesn’t want to forget about the male victims.
“We know that one out 71 men, which is a pretty large number, actually report experiencing attempted or completed rape at some point in their lifetime. So, we know that it is happening to men as well and I think that we need to make sure that we are voicing that and that we have men who are willing in having a role in presenting that,” said Cathcart.
David Schaffer a Trevecca student who is helping with the events understands that there are stigmas surrounding male victims.
“Not to generalize men, but men just don’t report certain things and so this is one of them that needs to be advocacy. It needs to be talked about and men need to feel comfortable coming to terms with being able to talk about things like that,” said Schaffer.
Schaffer said he’s already benefited from some of the panel discussions Cathcart has hosted this year.
“I went to the male one and there was like four male guys who were married and grown up and Jamie (Cathcart) asked them questions and they answered them,” said Schaffer. “Then we could ask questions and they answered them and I think that’s a great way because we could be like ‘Oh, these are older men and leaders that I see on a daily bases and they’re answering these questions.’ I think that is a good way to open the door.”
Trevecca will host two more events throughout April for Sexual Awareness Month.
Sexual Awareness Events
Quick Lecture Hall
Violence Against Women: A Biblical Perspective, a discussion with Mary Schmitt, assistant professor of biblical studies
How to help a friend: After Sexual Assault