rape stats

The trouble with sexual assaults on campus starts with alcohol. Then it rumbles through dorm rooms, echoes in under-breath conversations, but it never reaches the boys in blue.

A recent report funded by the Department of Justice found that roughly one in five women who attend college will become the victim of a rape or attempted rape by the time she graduates.

That same report also warns that only five percent of sexually assaulted victims report the incident to authorities.

Although UTSA’s 2010 Security Report declares five forcible sex offenses from 2007-2009 (three in 2007, two in 2008, zero in 2009), statistically, many more may have gone unreported.

According to the Center of Public Integrity, official university figures on sex crimes “don’t begin to reflect the scope of the problem.”

Experts in the field believe this is due, in part, to the prevalence of alcohol and sex in a college environment. College culture condones alcohol and heightened sexuality, both male and female, although female promiscuity is accepted to a lesser degree. This attitude is perhaps best exemplified in MTV’s hit show, Jersey Shore.

These two factors create “a perfect storm for sex assault issues,” stated David Lisak, a psychologist at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, in a recent NPR news investigation.

Lisak found in his 20-year research that “offenders on campuses – just like men in prison for rape – look for the most vulnerable women.”

In a college campus, freshman female students are targeted and sexually victimized because of their limited experience with alcohol. Trend college sex predators know intimately well.

In fact, college-aged rapists typically do not use knives, guns, or physical force to commit their offense. Alcohol is the weapon of choice.

“I think guys sometimes use alcohol to try to take advantage of girls,” Kari Greguska, a 24-year old college graduate, said. “They just keep buying drinks with the hope that by the end of the night we are too intoxicated to stop them.”

Another factor compounding the already jagged fault lines of sex crimes is the stigma associated with sexual assault cases.

“Most girls tell themselves that they won’t be one of those girls that allows that to happen so they don’t tell anyone because they’re embarrassed,” Dana Sottodeh, a sophomore communication major, said.

“If I was ever in that situation (sexually assaulted), I really don’t think I would want to talk about it to total strangers; it’s a sensitive subject,” added Greguska. “For a girl, it’s probably the worst fear, but it’s also the one we would want to talk about the least.”

The Department of Justice report also concluded that it is usually the victims of sexual assaults that end up transferring universities, while the alleged perpetrator stays in school.

“A lot of girls blame themselves for it,” said senior English major Melanie Robinson. “They’re ashamed so they’ll just transfer out.”

Vice-President Joe Biden made it clear that his administration is looking to address this buried issue.

On April 5, he announced new Department of Education guidelines for preventing sexual assault incidences in universities. The directive has prompted many universities to step up their efforts in raising campus awareness on the issue.

UTSA has designated April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month with the Women’s Resource Center hosting a series of free events aimed at educating students on methods of preventing sexual assaults.

“(Sexual assault) is something more women need to start speaking out against; it is something that they will face in the workplace as well,” said senior English major Angela Marisa Pantoja. “I spent 10 years in corporate America and I know that to be a fact.”

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