Spotlight on sexual assault awareness

Photo courtesy: Brianna McLeod’s Instagram

Brianna McLeod, a student at  Florida A&M University,, teamed up with FAMU PD and the school’s Title IX staff to host a self-defense workshop during Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. 

The class was held Tuesday in the multipurpose room on campus. 

McLeod, a second-year biology pre-medicine major, led the session by providing an informative presentation about sexual assault, consent and self-defense, safety and prevention, and resources that offer support for victims. 

John Cotton, interim chief of FAMU PD, presented tips on safety and prevention for the attendees.

“As the semester comes to an end and students will be traveling back home, I wanted to ensure that both men and women within our community possess the skills to safeguard themselves in the face of unforeseen emergencies. Additionally, FAMU’s open campus status inherently exposes us to potential risks and uncertainties. Acknowledging this reality underscored the urgency of equipping our community with practical self-defense knowledge. The workshop stands not only as a proactive measure, but also, as a testament to my commitment to fostering a safe and secure environment for all,” McLeod said.

This event came in perfect timing as sexual assault rates are recorded to peak during the summer.

“Aligning with Sexual Assault Awareness Month, hosting the self-defense workshop before summer holds great significance. As summer approaches, there is often an increase in social gatherings, outdoor activities, and travel, all of which can contribute to heightened vulnerabilities for potential victims of sexual assault. By equipping individuals with self-defense techniques and safety strategies before the onset of summer, we aimed to mitigate these risks and empower individuals to protect themselves effectively,” McLeod said.

Following the presenters, a certified self-defense instructor, TPD Deputy Christopher Flores, taught the class a number of self-defense techniques by demonstrating the moves with his partner. The participants then practiced the moves with each other and the instructor.

 The series of self-defense moves included groin kicks, heel palm strikes and escape techniques.

Brielle Elliott, a second-year agribusiness student who attended the class, said that she learned a lot of ways to protect herself and how to be situationally aware. 

“My biggest takeaway is that you are your own first responder, Anything can happen to anyone at any time. So, it’s important to be prepared at all times to protect yourself before bedding to depend on the police or anyone else,” Elliot said. 

The participants said that events like this help ensure the safety of the students and their community.

“I already knew the self-defense courses were offered by FAMU PD, but it’s not often that anyone really thinks to make time in their schedule for that kind of thing. So the fact that someone was willing to make it an event and publicize it really made my safety feel prioritized as a college student, and a young woman on campus,” Elliott said. 

Additionally, attendees were informed about Title IX resources available on and off-campus. On-campus services, including the Victim Advocate Program, Office of Counseling Services, and Department of Campus Safety and Security, provide crucial support and assistance. Off-campus resources, such as the Leon County Sheriff’s Office and Refuge House, extend further assistance and protection,  McLeod said.

Title IX has been actively honoring Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month through various initiatives. Their events included a “Teal Table Talk,” that opened discussions about topics surrounding sexual violence. They also organized events on the campus quad, distributed informative pamphlets to students, and provided on and off-campus resources available at FAMU and in Tallahassee. 

For more information about Title IX or any of their upcoming events, visit their website at For more information about FAMU PD, you can call (850) 599-3256 or visit their website at