In October, HUBrave hosted a panel discussion titled “Truth vs. Myth: An Honest Talk About Sexual Assault” for the campus community. It was the first event as an official campus organization for HUBrave, which stands for “Bisons Responding and Advocating for Victim’s Empowerment.”
Speakers included HUBrave co-sponsor Stephanie O’Brian, Assistant Professor of Behavioral Science Sam Jeffrey, Associate Professor of Social Work Kim Baker-Abrams, Associate Professor of English Stephanie Eddleman, HUBrave President Caitlyn Denison, Professor of Communication Jack Shock, and Assistant Vice President of Student Life Zach Neal providing different voices and angles on the topic of sexual assault. The panelists were selected by members of HUBrave who offered names of individuals they felt would provide valuable perspectives on sexual assault.
“We wanted to have conversations about what it looks like on this campus, what Harding’s policies are, and truly just spread education and awareness about many of the different perspectives of sexual assault and how it can happen both in terms of violent happenings and also in relationships,” O’Brian said.
Topics discussed included definitions of sexual harassment, violence and consent; the University’s policies and practices that follow reporting of sexual assault; the role of privacy and media in reporting incidents; and how acts of sexual violence can emerge in relationships.
“Nobody can add to or detract from your value as a person,” Jeffrey said at the event. “Your value was established at the cross, and nobody can change that. The only person at fault in a sexual assault or rape is the assaulter or the rapist — period. End of statement. There is no situation where that blame shifts from that person.”
O’Brian and Denison also provided encouragement to the audience, shared their own experiences as survivors, and challenged others to think critically about the issue.
“As someone in this audience listening to this, it’s your duty now to be a shield for someone else because this is us versus the people who think it’s OK to do these kinds of things,” Denison said.
O’Brian said this event was one of many panel discussions HUBrave will host this year, and the organization encourages questions and dialogue on their Facebook page, HUBrave.