With public interest increasing, CNU continues to advocate for survivors of sexual assault
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center states that 25 percent of women will be assaulted during their time at college, 66 percent of women will be harassed and 90 percent of crimes will go unreported.
These are statistics many at CNU don’t want to go unheard. From the Shadow Event to the Clothesline Event, Captains across campus used their voices this past week to share stories about sexual assault and bring the conversation to the forefront of the campus community.
THE CONVERSATION ON CAMPUS
The Shadow Event, covered more in-depth on page three, allowed members of the CNU community to share their stories and their experiences with sexual assault in an anonymous way. The Clothesline Event, which will be covered in next week’s edition, put the subject of sexual assault in the eyeline of students, putting stories and messages of support on T-shirts hung in the Trible Plaza.
Although these events happened this week, this conversation has been an ongoing one on CNU’s campus. Even before the #MeToo movement that topped the headlines this time last year, CNU has had an active voice in the fight against sexual assault on college campuses.
Speaking with CNU counselor Mary Frances Parrish, she explained, “that’s the lucky thing about working at CNU, everyone does take it so seriously… we are lucky to have that from the top down.”
A HISTORY OF ADVOCACY
Parrish was referring to Rosemary Trible, the first lady of CNU. After experiencing sexual assault herself, Trible has become a champion and advocate for those who have experienced sexual assault. Founding her own non-profit in 2011, right in the backyard of CNU, Fear 2 Freedom has become a staple of CNU’s community, with many volunteering for the non-profit and even more attending their annual events on campus.
There have also been institutional changes put in place to protect those who may be affected by sexual assault. Every year freshman entering college must attend the annual Be the Change event hosted by Trible. The event, a night of sexual assault and violence education, ensures that students go into school knowing the importance of the issue. Freshman are also asked to undergo an online class which educates and advocates. This online class must then be taken by every CNU employee yearly. CNU has also made every worker, part-time and student workers included, responsible employees, meaning they are legally obligated to report any instance of sexual assault.
All of this is done on top of the existing University policies and resources, including offering Counseling services, having a separate Title IX and Equal Opportunity office, and having University consequences to those found guilty of sexual assault.
ASSAULT AT CNU
These policies have led to an increase in reports of sexual assault made. Looking at the Annual Security and Fire Safety Report there were 13 reports of sexual assault in 2015, 42 in 2016 and 33 in 2017, and according to the Fire and Crime log which details crime in the past 60 days, there have been seven reports made since September. This increase may seem concerning but for many in the Title IX office, it is a welcome change. They shared in an interview on WAVY 10 that for them, it does not mean that there are more students being assaulted, it means that more individuals feel comfortable enough to come forward and alert the University.
Parrish corroborates that fact stating that she sees around the same amount of people every year, regardless of the reports made.
THE FRAGILITY OF RECOVERY
Parrish also made clear the separation between her office and Title IX’s office, stating that counseling is not looking for “what they have to,” but is rather there to be “a comfortable place where they can talk about what they want to.”
She acknowledges the fragility of the recovery process, “What I try to here is say it’s okay, validate it, say you’re not going to remember everything, you’re just going to remember bits and pieces because it is so traumatic, so we’re going to sit here, talk about, let things float to the surface and process.”
Although more students seem to be using the resources available, the conversation will continue about how CNU students are supported as they go through incidents of sexual assault.
Those in recovery from sexual assault can find resources below.
Resources for recovery
Emergency medical services provided by specifically trained nurses are available 24/7 for examinations and evidence collection from sexual assault/harassment.
Investigations and criminal prosecution are done through CNUPD.
3. Title IX Office
Provides resources and information about options when responding to a potential crime. Anonymous reports can be made through the office if students don’t feel comfortable releasing their names.
4. Resident Assistants
RAs are trained to respond to reports of sexual assault and can provide further resources.
5. Office of Counseling Services
Provides counseling for the trauma of sexual assault in a completely confidential session.
6. Outside resources
Lists of outside recovery centers can be found in the Office of Title IX and the Office of Counseling Services.
7. National Hotlines
Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-(800)-826-2079
AVALON: (757) 258-5022
Transitions: (757) 926-7443