A total of nine forcible rapes occurred on campus from 2002 to 2004, while a total of three forcible rapes occurred on non-campus territory during the same time period, according to statistics in Temple’s annual security report.
On average, Temple’s yearly number of reported rapes is significantly lower than the 4.1 percent of college students who are victim to rape or sexual assault on a yearly basis, according to a 1995-2000 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
But like many other universities across the country, the reported number of rapes at Temple is not completely indicative of how many incidents actually occur because a majority of rapes go unreported, according to the Sexual Assault Counseling and Education program.
Michael Hanowitz, coordinator of SACE, said one of the reasons why victims may choose not to report the crime is because the person who raped them is a friend or someone they know. This type of rape falls under the category of acquaintance rape, which is more commonly referred to as “date rape.”
Hanowitz said that in his six years at Temple he couldn’t remember any instance where the perpetrator and the victim did not know each other.
“Virtually all of the rapes that have occurred at Temple have been date rapes,” Hanowitz said.
Alcohol consumption is almost always involved in every rape case on campus, according to Hanowitz. He said that being intoxicated is not an excuse for anyone to commit rape.
Hanowitz also said that certain victims do not identify themselves as having been raped.
“They think of themselves as having made bad choices and bad decisions rather than being sexually assaulted,” Hanowitz said.
Campus Police Sgt. Monica Hankins, the special services supervisor for Campus Safety Services who works closely with Hanowitz and SACE, said most students incorrectly associate rape with a stranger attacking someone. She said the relationship that a date rape victim has with the perpetrator can further complicate the victim’s decision on whether or not to report the crime.
“They are afraid to report because they don’t want to get the other person in trouble,” Hankins said. “They feel guilty for whatever reason, they don’t want anyone to know or they’re embarrassed. There are a whole lot of reasons why people decide not to report.”
At Temple, rape victims have the choice of notifying the Department of Campus Safety Services or the Philadelphia Police Department of the incident. The Department of Campus Safety Services provides students with the option of filing a report and seeking a criminal investigation.
With the Department of Campus Safety Services all information is kept confidential until the student chooses to prosecute or if the student files a complaint with the University Disciplinary Committee, where the accused person’s name would be submitted to the UDC’s judicial board.
If a student notifies the Department of Campus Safety Services, then they will be referred to the SACE program, where all information is kept confidential unless it is potentially dangerous to the student or to others.
At SACE, students are encouraged to file a report, but, even if they don’t, they can still receive clinical assistance and support from the program.
When a student notifies one of the departments that they have been raped, they are first encouraged to visit Episcopal Hospital – one of the two local hospitals to have a rape kit, along with Jefferson Hospital – where they can receive prophylaxis, in addition to other medical attention. Hanowitz said it is important for students who decide to have the rape kit done to visit the hospital within 72 hours so forensic evidence can effectively be gathered.
Students who choose to file a report are then interviewed by a detective from the Philadelphia Special Victims Unit. The information from the interview is then compiled and submitted to the district attorney’s office. At that point, the victim has the option of prosecuting the offender.
SACE, in addition to representatives from groups, such as Women Organized Against Rape, are available to accompany the victim throughout the process.
Hankins and Horowitz both agreed that students often need help understanding the process.
“A lot of times you do have to educate them that this is confidential and we are not going to inform your family,” Hankins said.
Hankins also said many of the cases she deals with involve people who are “just looking for support.”
That is where SACE comes in.
The SACE program, which is a part of the Tuttleman Counseling Services, was established in 1993 to provide support to sexual assault victims through its counseling services, outreach programs and peer educators. Last week, SACE held “Take Back the Night,” a national event that enables rape victims to share their story with others.
Hanowitz said SACE is constantly striving to find ways to increase awareness about the program. According to him, holding events like “Take Back the Night” and instituting programs directed at educating men helps to accomplish that goal.
“We talk to every single person that comes to campus about this problem,” Hanowitz said.
“We are constantly trying to keep the problem out there so people know what the resources are and so that they can remind other people to watch out for themselves and watch out for their friends – [who could be] both victims and/or perpetrators, potentially.”
Hankins said the percentage of rape cases that are ultimately resolved through the legal system is low because it can take several years for a verdict to be reached.
She said the offender often prolongs the process and it can wear the accuser down.
“It’s really disheartening at times because when you see a person who is a victim of such a crime and they have to go through this, you have to understand that they are being re-victimized over and over again every time they go into court,” Hankins said.
Students who are able to report and go through the entire legal system help provide inspiration for others, Hankins said.
“Any time anyone who’s been a victim of sexual assault speaks out and reports it – even if they don’t want to prosecute the case, but just report it – you’re helping to support other people who may not have the courage to do it,” Hankins said.
“You’re also helping to end violence against women in totality.”
Tyson McCloud can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.