Cases of sexual and domestic violence are underreported on college campuses, and this includes Temple University, according to University officials.
In 2001, there were nine reported cases of sexual offense to the campus police, according to campus safety services Social Services Manager Joanne Wszolek.
She estimates there were less than five reports of sexual offenses in the past year.
There is not a category for domestic violence in campus police crime statistics.
“Sexual offense could be penetration to someone grabbing your buttocks,” she said.
“The numbers [of police reports] are very very low. People just don’t report it for whatever reason,” she said.
The University’s Sexual Assault Counseling and Education (SACE) program receives a substantial number of sexual and domestic violence complaints each year, according to SACE Assistant Coordinator Michael Hanowitz.
“There is enough work to keep two people employed,” he said.
“I can’t give numbers because it varies.”
SACE counselors see people with a variety of backgrounds regarding abuse and trauma and may be seen for therapy from six sessions to sometimes a year of counseling.
They work with people in situations of domestic violence and sexual trauma.
“People do complain to the campus police,” said Pamela Freedman, an employee at SACE.
“They sometimes go to [Wszolek] first because she is so well-known on campus. The people who get reports are usually the Residence Directors and Residence Assistants in the dorms, [Wszolek] and [SACE].”
The number of reports received varies during the school year.
Freedman points to the recent shooting of University student Cori Miller as an event that can trigger an increase in reports.
“I think that at certain times of the year we get people coming in more, it doesn’t mean the number [of incidents] is increasing,” said Freedman.
“When something happens like that shooting, I think more people come in [to report violence], not because it is increasing, but because they are ready to talk about it.”
Many people who have been subjected to violence do not feel that they are victims, according to Hanowitz.
Domestic violence is not just limited to females; males can be victims, too.
“Most people don’t identify as a victim,” said Hanowitz.
“They’ve been drinking at a party, and they wake up the next day with their pants around their ankles and they know they have had intercourse, [but] they often don’t identify as victims.”
Signs of an abusive relationship are behaviors that are very controlling, verbally abusive, disrespectful and actual physical or sexual abuse, said Wszolek.
Her advice to someone in this situation is to take advantage of the counseling resources on campus.
“If people are just yelled at and verbally abused, they don’t see it always as a form of domestic violence,” said Freedman.
“Only if they are pushed around a little bit do they say it could be domestic violence.”
Sarah Watson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.