Added transparency legislation will only be effective if sexual assault survivors report cases.
Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) recently introduced the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (SaVE) in an effort for universities to have more transparent sexual assault policies.
The Temple News applauds Casey’s efforts, as well as Temple administrators for preparing for increased accountability.
But only the numbers in the upcoming months will speak for the success of Casey’s new legislation, and unfortunately, those aren’t always easily obtained.
“Priority No. 1 for me is re-empowering the victim and letting the victim know that they have choices,” Associate Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Stephanie Ives told The Temple News as reported in “Facing Assault,” Page 1. “So really, very much, it’s in their hands.”
Ives is right – sexual assault survivors hold every right to control every action they make in the aftermath of a sexual assault, whether that means reporting the crime or deciding not to report. But The Temple News encourages Ives and other administrators to remind sexual assault survivors that reporting the crime, while often difficult to go through, can be just as empowering and sometimes more so as it can be to move on without legal action.
No university wants to have a high number of sexual assaults on its record, but a high number of sexual assaults would not be a reflection of the university’s police force or safety policies – it would be an accurate reflection of the heinous reality of crimes perpetrated in society.
Unfortunately, 60 percent of sexual assaults go unreported, according to the United States Department of Justice, making it one of the most underreported crimes.
At the university level, those numbers are even more dramatic.
In 2009, Main Campus recorded a total of two forcible sex offenses, according to the latest Annual Security and Fire Safety report. That’s barely a fraction of the one in every four women who are sexually assaulted during college the U.S. Department of Justice estimates.
These sky-rocketing high numbers could be attributed to a number of factors, fear being a resounding one. But on college campuses, it’s likely that this could be due to the fact that 90 percent of sexually assaulted students know their attacker.
For many survivors of a sexual assault, the assault itself is often the first of a series of worries.
In particular, for rape victims who pursue a conviction, there’s filing a report, undergoing a medical examination, being interviewed by the police, revisiting the attack with an attorney and then facing the alleged attacker – not to mention testifying in an open court.
But while the criminal justice system may not be perfect, these procedures are not without value. Not only can a report lead to the conviction of the attacker, decreasing the likelihood of the attacker attempting an assault again, but reporting can get justice for the survivor, which can often be the first step in regaining normalcy in his or her life.