Groped, violated and assailed: Scared victims suffer under silence and stigma


Phrases like, “she dressed provocatively,” “she acted promiscuously,” and “she had it coming” are part of it.
So is not reporting what happened because of feelings of helplessness and fear.
These ideas all contribute to the stigma associated with sexual assault.
But various Butler University organizations are attempting to reverse this stigma, as well as the frequency of sexual assault at Butler.

Sexual assault is an issue on many college campuses—including Butler University.
Sexual assault occurs “when someone touches any part of another person’s body in a sexual way, even through clothes, without that person’s consent,” according to the National Center for Victims of Crime, a nonprofit organization that advocates for rights of crime victims.
Butler University Police Department received reports of four sexual assault cases in 2012.
Six instances of sexual assault have been reported to BUPD in 2013.
Eight of these 10 reported sexual assaults are currently listed as “Assigned to Investigations – Open,” and one has been referred to the Office of Student Affairs, according to crime logs.
The most recent reported case in April 2013, was investigated and classified as “unfounded,” according to a crime log.
One of the sexual assault cases reported to BUPD in 2012 was listed as a “forcible rape” on a crime report. Another was the result of a female student being “rudely touched” by a male student, according to the crime report.
One instance of “forcible rape” and an instance of “forcible sodomy” are among the six sexual assault cases brought to BUPD in 2013, according to crime reports.
In only four of the 10 reported sexual assaults did reports specifically state that a female victim was assailed by a male individual.
Ben Hunter, chief of staff and executive director of public safety, declined via email to comment on the details of individual sexual assault cases reported to BUPD.
Bill Weber, assistant police chief, declined via email to discuss individual sexual assault cases due to “privacy issues.” While this view may give the impression BUPD does not care about sexual assaults, it is not true, Weber said.
“Detective Bruce Allee takes, along with the rest of us, every report made to us very seriously,” Weber said in an email. “It is difficult (to hear) when the claim is that BUPD is not doing anything to investigate or assist a survivor of a sexual assault, or any assault for that matter.”
Detective Bruce Allee, formerly an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department sex crimes investigator, leads sexual assault investigations at Butler.
He said Butler community members can gain a complete picture of how sexual assault on and around campus is handled at a panel being held Wednesday, Sept. 25 at noon in Jordan Hall, room 141.
Other incidents reported to BUPD fall under the category of harassment—although they are not necessarily sexual in nature.
One of those cases was reported in March 2012, when a female student told BUPD she thought she may have been drugged at a Phi Kappa Psi party in December 2011, according to a crime log and The Collegian’s “Assault case reported” (Apr. 4, 2012).
That case has also been assigned to investigations and is still open.

Silence is the most common response of victims after sexual assaults, according to statistics compiled by the Rape, Incest and Abuse National Network.
According to the network, 54 percent of sexual assaults go unreported.
Additionally, in a study of 5,000 college students at more than 100 colleges by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 20 percent of women answered “yes” to the question, “In your lifetime, have you been forced to submit to sexual intercourse against your will?”
Sarah Barnes Diaz, health education and outreach programs coordinator, said she makes herself available to victims through Butler’s advocate hotline, which can be reached at 317-910-5572.
Diaz said she believes two of the most important things she can do for students is to listen to and believe them.
“These are two seemingly simple roles to take, but (they) are very important,” Diaz said.
In The Collegian’s “Spotlight on sexual assault” (Sept. 5, 2012), assistant police chief Andrew Ryan said he feels the number of sexual assaults on campus might be higher than the reported figure because of the stigma attached to sexual assault.
“The survivor of the assault can feel like he or she is at fault,” Ryan said. “As hard as we work to try to dispel that feeling, it doesn’t always work.”
Junior Elizabeth Davis, who is involved with Peers Advocating Wellness for Students, Greek Educators, Advocates and Resources and Butler’s sexual assault task force, said if a victim knows his or her assailant, it makes it very difficult for the victim to report sexual assault.
“It is hard for girls or men who have been in a tricky situation, for them to know the person in the situation as well,” Davis said. “Especially when you are bumping into them in class or in the Atherton line, (it makes) it difficult to submit the report.”
Butler faculty and staff members are not the only ones who believe these lines of thought to be true.
Sophomore Jenny DiVincenzo, a student currently enrolled in a self-defense class at Butler, said she thinks many victims do not report sexual assault due to feelings of embarrassment, regret or intimidation.
“Most girls who are sexually assaulted never report it because they feel guilty and most likely know the victim who assaulted them,” DiVincenzo said.

Butler organizations are taking steps to cut down on the number of sexual crimes on and around campus, while also trying to change the feelings sexual assault victims encounter.
Along with BUPD, P.A.W.S., GEAR, Butler Strong, Butler’s sexual assault task force and Butler’s counseling and crisis services are at the forefront of the charge to help sexual assault victims and prevent more individuals from becoming victims.
P.A.W.S. sponsors Sexual Assault Awareness Week at Butler each year. GEAR is one group that works with P.A.W.S. on the event.
Events at last year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Week included a video and speakers promoting safety and responsibility for students and a photo project titled “Take a Stand.”
“P.A.W.S. and GEAR are a unified force (which) approach(es) the issue of sexual assault from an educational and preventative approach,” Davis said.
Davis said Greek houses have served a very important role, getting messages about preventing and reporting sexual assault to large numbers of students in an educational manner.
Senior Josh Burton is leading Butler Strong, an organization that meets to talk about sexual assault and how to keep women safe on campus.
Burton said he worked with assistant police chief Ryan since spring after Ryan brought up the idea during a discussion about sexual assault awareness at Butler’s Sigma Nu chapter house.
“I was intrigued because I have had friends and family affected by sexual assault,” Burton said. “I was tired of hearing men are the problem.”
Butler Strong is all about taking a different approach to masculinity. The group wants to change the stereotype of what it means to be a Greek fraternity member, Burton said.
“We have to be able to take a stand and go against the grains of what society thinks is okay and what we think is okay,” he said. “There is a stereotype that men are the problem, but I think we can also be the solution to the issue.
“It is harder for younger guys in a situation where older guys have seniority over them. In that case, find someone you respect that will handle the situation. Don’t be afraid to step up.”
For more information, students can attend the Butler Strong callout meeting today at 8 p.m. in Jordan Hall, room 236.
There is also a self-defense class offered on campus each Tuesday before noon that currently has 20 Butler students enrolled. Select BUPD officers teach the course.
“I wouldn’t be able to defend myself as effectively, for sure, without learning the techniques they are teaching us,” sophomore Kate Webb said in a recent WISH-TV report on the class.
“The class has definitely taught me to be more aware of my surroundings, and that if, God forbid, someone ever tried to attack me, I would be prepared to yell and do whatever I could to get out of the situation,” DiVincenzo said.
Even Butler’s newest students feel they have an important role to play in stopping sexual assault and helping its victims.
Freshman Kevin Rhinesmith said men should realize their responsibility to help prevent sexual assault against women.
“I think we, as men, can help prevent situations from happening by identifying danger and looking out for girls if they seem at risk,” Rhinesmith said. “(We should) always be willing to step in and take control of a situation if it means keeping someone safe.
“If someone sees a girl who could be in danger, then they should quickly take her away from the situation or tell the person bothering them to leave her alone. Stay there until the conflict is resolved or until the girl is for sure safe.”
Sophomore Camille Cousins, a resident assistant, prepared information on sexual assault to share with the women in her unit. She discussed how to prevent it, and what to do if you become a victim of it.
“Always walk in groups, and always watch your drink,” Cousins said. “If you ever feel that you are in a (dangerous) situation, call someone, whether that be your friends, RA or BUPD.”
Cousins said victims should use Butler’s advocate line and speak to Diaz.
“She is very sweet and is trained to handle situations dealing with sexual assault,” Cousins said.
Cousins said she believes sexual assault can be prevented, but it will not always be easy.
“I think our world is not there for it to be prevented, because there are still people with the mindset that no means yes,” Cousins said. “Only yes means yes.”


Related posts