Katelynn Singleton, Campus Carrier staff writer

For the next three years, Berry will be host to a new federally-funded grant project called Berry Reducing Assault and Violence through Education (BRAVE). The grant is focused on providing education on campus regarding dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.

The first year of BRAVE is dedicated to creating a strategic plan to create awareness regarding dating and domestic violence, which involves writing a curriculum for groups on campus to increase bystander intervention of those crimes. Ashley Demonbreun-Chapman, the project coordinator and a Berry alum, is currently focused on bringing people together to determine where Berry already is in terms of prevention. Demonbreun-Chapman says that the team is looking at all aspects of the reporting and prevention process. That means looking at Viking Code and understanding the current process behind reporting an incident. They will also look at law enforcement response as well as victim services to see what aid is available for people when they do report.

“The purpose of this grant is really to ensure that there’s a victim-centered approach to these things,” Demonbreun-Chapman said.

The BRAVE grant will allow Berry the opportunity to create strong prevention programs. Katie Bevers, a Peer Educator who helped in the beginning phases of BRAVE, says that the grant will work to raise awareness on a topic that is seen as taboo. The education process will help students know how to respond if they see something, and give them to confidence to feel comfortable stepping in. Demonbreun-Chapman hopes to increase the number of advocates on campus so that once victims come forward they have an advocate who can work with them and support them. 

Currently, Berry is in the first year of the program, but come January they will begin the implementation phase and will be able to start programs. Demonbreun-Chapman states that members of the BRAVE action team will be trained in the Green Dot Bystander Intervention Program, a bystander education approach that aims to prevent violence with the help of bystanders. These members will then go to leadership groups on campus such as SGA, BSA, Listen, and other key groups. 

“Whenever we’re having programs that are discussing these issues, we hope to have an advocate available for students to talk to if needed,” Demonbreun-Chapman said.

The BRAVE grant is an important program to have for everyone on campus, says Bevers. Sexual assault and dating violence can happen to anyone, and by increasing the awareness and inciting a conversation, students can be more comfortable stepping in to stop it from happening. Demonbreun-Chapman acknowledges that incidents like sexual assault and domestic violence can happen everywhere, and aren’t subject to just a single group of people. One in three to one in four women will experience these crimes in her lifetime, and so will one in five to one in seven men, and often these crimes go unreported. Berry is a close and well-connected campus, and students who wish to report may face difficulty due to barriers within the community. 

“Right now, we know that it’s likely things aren’t being reported to the degree that they’re happening on campus,” Demonbreun-Chapman said.

Demonbreun-Chapman is open to discussion with students about topics that need to be talked about, and some of the priorities that students have. If students want to get in contact with her, she says that she is ready and willing to listen. 

Demonbreun-Chapman can be contacted at ademonbreunchapman@berry.edu

Posted by Campus Carrier

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