The fifth and sixth sexual assaults in 2014-15 came to students’ attention within the past week, as “timely warnings” from Public Safety and Emergency Management arrived to students’ email inboxes.
With one occurring in the fall, and one just two days ago, discussions and concerns of the assaults have once again arisen on and off campus.
The sixth assault on Feb. 3 took place in the Roy Stewart Stadium parking lot. The crime log lists the assault’s category as “sex offenses – forcible” with a description of “unwanted sexual content by acquaintance.”
The vague description gives the crime an enigmatic quality for a purpose. Protecting victims is of utmost importance in situations like these, when the crime is not just physical, but also mental.
In their lifetime, about one in five women and one in 71 men have been raped, according to the CDC website, and one in two women and one in five men experienced other forms of sexual violence.
David Howe, public relations officer for the Murray Police Department, said the most common reasons victims of sexual assault hesitate or refuse completely to come forward are fear, shame and sometimes complete denial of the events that transpired.
“Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient,” states the description of sexual violence given by the U.S. Department of Justice. “Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling and attempted rape.”
A study from the Department of Justice found that although sexual assaults are statistically common, only 5 percent of rapes and attempted rapes on college campuses are reported.
Of those cases involved, 90 percent of victims knew their attacker. In 89 percent of those cases, alcohol was involved.
In sample study of 1,882 college men, David Lisak, professor at University of Massachusetts, Boston and Paul Miller, professor at Brown University, reported on “120 men whose self-reported acts met legal definitions of rape or attempted rape, but who were never prosecuted by criminal justice authorities.”
The study showed the majority of those “undetected rapists” – about two-thirds – were repeat offenders.
The average number of rapes per each offender was about six.
2013 heralded a new win for the American Association of University Women, an organization that “has been empowering women as individuals and as a community since 1881,” according to the website. “For more than 130 years, we have worked together as a national grassroots organization to improve the lives of millions of women and their families.”
Act S.47 reauthorized the original 1972 Violence Against Women Act, also known as Title IX, along with adding a few points, including:
- Universities nationwide must report the annual numbers for domestic and dating violence and stalking incidents.
- Gender and nationality-motivated hate crimes must be added to annual statistics.
- Security reports must include the University’s prevention programs for dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, along with the procedures and training followed once a crime has been reported.
- Clear options and support for victims of sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking must be provided for students.
- Students must be allowed to bring their choice of advisor to a disciplinary hearing.
In regard to the recent cases on Murray State’s own campus, Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs said obviously there’s a serious issue.
“One is too many,” he said. “We’re certainly creating more awareness, more education. The good news, if there is any good news, people are reporting it so we can get them the help they need.”
Camisha Duffy, Title IX coordinator, could not be reached for comment.
If you know a victim of sexual, domestic or dating violence, the American Association of University Women website said the first thing to do is believe them.
“Often a victim’s worst fear is that the person they tell will not believe them,” said the site.
Ask the victim if they need medical attention. If they do, go to the nearest hospital, but unless it’s a medical emergency, leave it up to them.
“When a person is assaulted, they can feel a loss of control over their body and their life,” said the site. “If you push them to tell you more than they volunteer, to report the assault, or to submit to a medical exam, you can unintentionally perpetuate that loss of control.”
Most importantly, know the resources on campus and help them contact those resources.
Story by Amanda Grau, News Editor