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Too Many Sexual Assaults Go Unreported

College students face their highest risk of sexual assault during the first six months of the school year. A quick look at local campuses reveals a shocking reality.

Rape is real. So is the damaging silence that too often follows it.

Last week I was on four separate college campuses; a few short weeks into the new school year, three of them have already recorded their first sexual assaults. What I heard consistently: “Unfortunately, the girls don’t want to report.”

Reporting sexual assault is a choice facing every victim. The Department of Justice estimates that as many as 95% of sexual assaults on college campuses go unreported. Because of the societal stigmas surrounding this insidious crime, many victims are afraid to come forward: some are embarrassed, some feel somehow responsible, and some are simply in shock. Most college campuses have systems in place that allow victims some initial care and intervention without filing a police report. This is a critical option for victims: Whether you are ready to report on not, there is nothing more important than collecting evidence as quickly as possible. In many cases, it will be that crucial DNA evidence that puts perpetrators behind bars.

Many hospitals now employ Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE), forensic nurses specially trained to appropriately and effectively collect evidence, while responding to the emotional needs of trauma victims. Their job is to collect, preserve, guide and support. Their job is not to file a police report; the next step is always the victim’s choice.

Jane Doe No More founder Donna Palomba went to the hospital immediately following her sexual assault. The evidence collected that night was used to identify her perpetrator eleven years later. Her landmark case led to a new law in Connecticut, removing the statute of limitations on cases involving DNA evidence. Had she not gone to the hospital that night, her assailant might still be free.

Collecting evidence is imperative. At Jane Doe No More, we believe that filing the police report is just as important. Most perpetrators of sexual crimes are repeat offenders; fewer than 10% will spend a day in jail, leaving them free to offend again and again. Speaking out is the first step to getting them off the streets. It is also a victim’s first step toward healing. End the silence: no more shame, no more blame, no more fear.

To learn more, visit www.janedoenomore.org, or find us on facebook

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

DS September 21, 2012 at 11:20 AM
This country is amazing. If you hurt an animal, you get arrested, thrown in jail, and there are PETA protests and news stories all over... but if you do something horrific to a child, it gets swept under the rug. Child predators like Mitchell and Barzee who kidnaped Elizabeth Smart and Phillip Gaurido who kidnapped Jacee Dugard should be put to death immediately. We need tougher laws against sexual offenders, especially when its against children
jim laguardia September 21, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Well when you have people who think making dirty phone calls to public librarians is no big deal... To paraphrase the Patch comment "was there even a crime?" It shows how flippant things like this are taken. What is next for the person placing the phone call?? Maybe the internet? And who would he talk to then? Probably a minor, who would chat with him....
Box September 21, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Jim, can I ask, what is the story with the librarian. I haven't heard of it. I agree with much of what is being said here. I am surprised at the obstacles I've encountered when it comes to offering protection from predators. Look at what happened in RIdgefield, the town wanted to pass a new statute saying that sex offenders could be asked by police to leave children's playground areas. I was so surprised that some well known residents were against the ordinance. Like what? It would infringe upon the rights of sex offenders to stalk children? Like really? I was appalled. Luckily the ordinance passed, but if something as clear as keeping sex offenders away from children was a tough sell, I can't imagine the hurdles when two adults are involved.
kn.sreekanth September 24, 2012 at 09:23 AM
hai
kn.sreekanth September 24, 2012 at 09:26 AM
good

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