At the fourth annual Allen Holmes Symposium at Weber State University on Sept. 21, Brenda Tracy, a member of the NCAA Committee to Combat Sexual Violence, shared her story of how she became a rape survivor.
Tracy’s story started back in 1998, when she attended a party with her best friend at Oregon State University. Tracy, a mother of two, was dating an Oregon State football player at the time. At the party, Tracy was given a drugged alcoholic drink, which later caused her to pass out. She was then sexually attacked by four men.
After a hospital visit following her attack, she felt inspired to become a nurse. Tracy went to school for 14 years and received her nursing license and a master’s degree in business administration.
In November 2014, Tracy’s story of sexual violence was released online with the help of John Canzano, a sports columnist for the Oregonian.
When her story was released, she felt like she became one person. “I walked out of my prison of shame and silence that day when my story went live,” Tracy said.
With the release of her story, Tracy began her activism work. She has helped make laws by working alongside state legislators and has helped pass seven laws in her state of Oregon. A few weeks before the symposium, Tracy helped the NCAA implement a new policy of yearly education on sexual violence. She also receives invitations to come speak to student-athletes on college and high school campuses across the nation.
Andrea Hernandez, Diversity and Inclusive Programs coordinator, was one of the staff members who helped arrange for Tracy to come speak. “We felt Brenda’s story would provide inspiration for all Weber State students,” Hernandez said. “We as staff members want to support our students and know that there are resources available for them.”
Tracy speaks mostly to an audience composed of student-athletes about her story because she knows that athletes have a powerful platform.
“Ninety-eight percent of sexual violence acts are carried about by men. Ten percent committing the act, 90 percent not committing the act. If women could stop it, it would have already been done,” Tracy told Weber State student-athletes at Thursday night’s symposium.
Tracy talks with student-athletes to encourage them to join her campaign to take the pledge against sexual violence known as “Set the Expectation.” She told Weber State athletes, “If you see something, say something. Make it your business to stop the act.”
Filipe Sitake, a Weber State football player, said, “If I see something, I’m going to say something because I come from a religious background who respects women. I’m going to share Brenda Tracy’s story in my classes with my classmates.”
Weber State women’s golf coach Sara Federico wants her team to be aware and to not be afraid. “I want to remind them to stand strong and to watch out for each other,” Federico said.
Tracy gave one final message to women on Weber State campus. That message is to remember it’s never your fault when sexual violence occurs.