A Victim's Voice

August 8, 2017

The athletic department at the University of Colorado recently opened its doors to raise awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault and discuss what can be done to help change the issue. This included special talks for the football team and women’s basketball teams along with other programs with the chancellor and his cabinet, and the university’s Title IX compliance staff.

“For me, this is really about, how do we shift a culture within athletics,” Brenda Tracy, who was the guest speaker for this programming, told The Denver Post. “and how do we use athletics to shift that culture that’s going on campuses nationwide?”

“What I’d like to see is that if football players are at the same gathering as a women’s basketball player, and he sees her in trouble, for him pull her out of it. I want them to become this force kind of like, ‘Not in our house,’ Jill Mahoney, CU women’s basketball director of operations, told The Post. "It starts with someone like Brenda Tracy.”

Earlier in the year, CU faced scrutiny for how it handled domestic violence allegations against former assistant football coach Joe Tumpkin. An external investigation showed failures from three university officials—chancellor Phil DiStefano, head football coach Mike MacIntyre, and athletic director Rick George—in handling the allegations appropriately.

Moving forward, George has said the university wants to be a leader in addressing sexual assault. Along with potential legislative actions, Tracy, a sexual assault victim herself, emphasized that the student-athletes can be part of the solution. Senior running back Phillip Lindsay said Tracy's talk was powerful and made an impact on him. She told the team that only 10 percent of men are committing sexual assaults and that it's up to the other 90 percent to intervene or report potential instance of sexual violence.

“You start to visualize your sister, your mother,” Lindsay said. “I could never think about that happening to them. … (Tracy) is an inspiration to all of us. I can’t wait to do my part to help out and be the 90 percent of men.”

 

Tracy tailored her message to each audience. 

“The point that she drove home with us was, ‘Whether you took that drink, whether you were in a volatile situation, at the end of the day, if you said no or if you weren’t confirming that, it is not your fault,’” Mahoney said. “She conveyed to the girls that they are beautiful, powerful women, and you’re strong enough that if something like this happens to you, you’ve got a support system."

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