Many sexual assault victims suffer in silence

Fifty-four percent of sexual assaults are not reported, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and SIUC and the Women’s Center in Carbondale are joining forces to advocate for the sexual safety of students.

This year’s theme is “It’s time to talk about it,” and various events are being held throughout April in the Carbondale community to educate people about the awareness month.

Graphic by Caleb West | Daily Egyptian

Derrick Williams, violence prevention coordinator, said the university’s main goal for the month is to allow victims to be able to talk about their experiences.

He said sexual assault is the most unreported crime because of the complications that accompany it.

University statistics show during the last 30 years, there have been no more than nine sexual assaults reported in the campus area each year.

Todd Sigler, director of the department of public safety, said there are many reasons sexual assaults are not typically reported, especially on a college campus. Because an incident may involve alcohol or other substances, Sigler said, the victim and offender are often acquaintances.

“In most of the instances (of sexual assault), both parties previously know each other, which makes the victim unwilling to report the incident,” he said. “Victims sometimes don’t want to tell on someone who they have mutual friends with or someone they have a class with.”

According to the RAINN website, 73 percent of sexual assaults are brought on by someone the victim knows.

Sigler said when a sexual assault is reported, the victim has the choice to pursue the case in court, which often ends in no charges being pressed.

When unreported rapes are factored in, the RAINN website states, about 3 percent of rapists serve jail time.

“People have a tendency to avoid the topic or feel very uncomfortable talking about it, but sharing experiences is really the best way to educate and prevent,” Williams said. “What we are working on now is giving people the tools and skills they need to talk about their experiences.”

Williams said sexual assaults on college campuses are a national problem. He said one in every four women on a campus are involved in a sexual assault.

In 2010, SIUC had three reported sexual assaults, Eastern Illinois University had two, Western Illinois University had eight, Northern Illinois University had five and the University of Illinois had 12.

Sigler said when a sexual assault is reported, the DPS investigates the crime and provides the victim with coping services.

Students who are sexually assaulted are referred to Christy Hamilton, mental health coordinator at the Student Health Center. She said she gives the victims an assessment and helps them in any possible way.

Roy Joy, psychologist and community intervention coordinator at the Student Health Center, said when a sexual assault victim comes into the counseling center, it is treated as a crisis.

“Typically, we are concerned with their safety, medical condition and current needs,” he said.

There will be a walk, “A Gathering Against Sexual Violence,” today at 4 p.m. from the Student Center to the Women’s Center and then to the Student Health Center as part of the month’s events.

 

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Ashley Zborek

About Ashley Zborek

Hello, My name is Ashley and I am the Daily Egyptian's Online Editor. I started off at the DE as a campus reporter in fall 2011.

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