Sexual assault reports increase with greater awareness

Sexual assault awareness may be fueling an increase in reports of incidents occurring on or near ASU campuses.

Eight sexual assaults were reported to ASU Police in 2011, with another four since the start of the spring, according to police crime logs.

The two years before had a combined total of nine reported incidents, according to a University Police Security Policy and Crime Statistics Report.

Karen Moses, director of ASU Wellness, said 60 percent of sexual assaults go unreported, which means students who become more aware of the issue are reporting the incidents more frequently.

“With this crime being so underreported, an increase in reports of sexual assault means just that,” she said. “An increase in reporting and not an increase in the number of people who experience sexual assault.”

Half of the incidents reported in 2011 took place at Vista Del Sol, according to the crime logs.

ASU Police Cmdr. Jim Hardina said among those reported, 95 percent are between friends and acquaintances.

“The dynamic here at ASU is, it’s always going to be someone you know,” Hardina said. “And in almost all cases, alcohol is a factor.”

In at least two of the four incidents this year, the women who were sexually assaulted in their dorm rooms did not wish to aid in prosecution because of the friendship the women had with their assailant, Hardina said.

Moses said most violent crimes happen when a victim is hurt by someone they know and trust.

“A victim is more likely to trust someone he or she knows,” Moses said. “Perpetrators use this trust to lure victims into vulnerable situations.”

Hardina said many of the incidents are reported because the women want authorities to be aware of the situation in hopes that such an event doesn’t occur to others.

Hardina said the majority of women try to be careful to avoid the drug Rufilin being dropped in their drinks, but most sexual assaults happen just from being too intoxicated by alcohol.

“The drug that was at play that we know for sure was alcohol,” he said. “That’s the date rape drug of choice.”

Moses said ASU Wellness encourages students not to mix alcohol with sex, even if it is consensual. If students do find themselves in that situation, both parties involved should keep an open dialogue about the situation so no one crosses any lines, she said.

“Students should check frequently with their partner during intimate contact to make sure that the activity is consensual,” she said. “It’s hard to communicate clearly with alcohol in your system.”

Of all reported sexual assault incidents nationally, 44 percent of victims are under the age of 18, while 80 percent are younger than 30, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

“College students are considered to be one of the highest risk groups,” Moses said.

The Undergraduate Student Government on Tempe’s campus is working to streamline awareness with ASU Wellness so students can go to a centralized place for information, Vice President Kaitlin O’Neil said.

“It makes sure all resources are in one place,” she said. “(So) students know where to go rather than going around online.”

Political science senior Jaclyn Weeman started I Always Get Consent, an annual education awareness event at ASU for students to become educated on sexual awareness and the dangers of rape.

Weeman said her friend, who was sexually assaulted off campus more than a year ago, helped start the event because there was a lack of help from the University.

During the event, which will take place this year on March 14 in the Memorial Union’s Arizona Ballroom, students who have been victims of sexual assault are encouraged to speak with other victims.

Moses said the best way for victims to help prevent future assaults is to report their experience.

“Another way is to work with young people to help instill values of respect, self control and communication,” Moses said. “And to stand up for themselves.”

 

Reach the reporter at sraymund@asu.edu

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