UNA Campus Climate Survey results show most sexual assault victims know their attackers

by News Editor Anna Brown

Over 80 percent of students who reported having unwanted sexual experiences said their perpetrator was someone they knew, according to results from the Campus Climate Survey.

“The unfortunate thing in our society is these matters happen across the country, whether you’re in school, out of school or in the workplaces,” said Title IX Coordinator Tammy Jacques. “So, we have to do what we can do in our community to try to educate students and prevent it from happening the best we can.”

The survey defined sexual contact as “touching of a sexual nature, oral sex, sexual intercourse, anal sex and sexual penetration with a finger or object.”

Sexual assault programs on college campuses often focus on self-defense training. This method assumes the perpetrators are strangers to the victims.

“Most students don’t expect to be sexually assaulted by someone they know,” said senior Katherine Steinman. “They could never imagine it until it’s already happening.”

Of the 978 students who took the survey, 68 students reported experiencing at least one incident of unwanted sexual contact since becoming a student at UNA.

However, 117 incidences of unwanted sexual contact were reported from the 978 students who took the survey.

This number indicates these incidences happened more than once to one or more students, Jacques said.

About 60 percent of victims identified their perpetrators as students at UNA and 6 percent as a UNA employee, faculty or staff member, according to survey results.

Of the students who experienced unwanted sexual contact, 41 percent said they knew about UNA’s formal reporting procedures.

Three students said they reported the incident through UNA’s formal reporting procedures and indicated they found that process helpful.

“Those numbers told us that a lot of people didn’t know how to report,” Jacques said. “We have to do a better job of letting students know about these policies as a university.”

Sexual assault victims can receive free, immediate help through Rape Response. Victims can call the 24-Hour Crisis Line to get immediate help, said Victim Service Coordinator Kaylie Pennington. She said all services provided by Rape Response are completely free.

“We always have someone who will answer the telephone,” Pennington said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s 2 a.m. We will make sure you are in a safe place and give instructions on what you can do to get help and report the incident.”

She said someone from Rape Response will stand beside the victim through the whole process of reporting the incident, physical exams and court trials, if legal action is taken.

Rape Response offers free counseling services for victims and their friends and family, regardless of gender.

More women reported incidences of unwanted sexual experiences than men in the survey with about 86 percent of those reporting identifying as female.

“This is a normal thing,” Jacques said. “Men do report, but the women typically report more.”

Three-fourths of the participants who reported an unwanted sexual experience were juniors and seniors.

Jacques said the numbers are likely higher for juniors and seniors because the survey spanned a longer amount of time for those students.

Based on the results, the recommendation section encouraged education on acquaintance rape and establishing consent with a potential sexual partner, Jacques said.

“All we know about is the students who self-reported in the survey,” Jacques said. “Who knows how many more are out there.”

Senior Katie Bragwell said she thinks sexual assault awareness classes may help reduce the number of incidences on campus.

“I also think establishing boundaries with partners is helpful, too,” she said.