Written by Jenelle Boo, Doctorial intern, Student Counseling Services
Monday, 12 October 2009 21:37
Reports of rape are exaggerated. I don’t know anyone who has been raped.
While people often underestimate the prevalence of rape, the reality is that 1 in 5 college women are victims of sexual assault. Odds are good that you do know someone who has been sexually assaulted.
This figure is based only on the students who actually report the assault. In fact, many survivors of sexual violence do not report the violation, which means the 1 in 5 figure may be even higher.
Additionally, research has shown that the number of false sexual assault reports is very low. The vast majority of people who come forward with a sexual assault accusation are telling the truth.
Many times individuals who have been sexually assaulted feel embarrassed or shameful about the trauma they have experienced. It can be difficult, and sometimes traumatic, to tell others about the event. The process is made even more difficult for survivors when you consider that many people buy into the myth that reports of rape are exaggerated. Can you imagine trying to report a violation of such a personal nature if you thought no one would believe you?
Additionally, many survivors experience feelings of self-blame and take on personal responsibility for the assault which can heighten feelings of embarrassment and shame.
Couple this with the fact that society often places blame for rape on the victims by questioning their choices, clothing or behaviors, and silence unfortunately begins to feel like a safer choice for many survivors. Victims of crime, including rape, are never responsible for their own victimization.
Another reason that it’s easy to ascribe to this myth is because it helps people feel safe. How much easier is it to live life when you can believe that sexual assault rarely happens and certainly won’t impact you or anyone you know?
Believing the truth and listening to the fact that sexual assault is a prevalent concern on college campuses today is scary. The good news is that by increasing awareness of the problem and resources available for help in the aftermath, people can feel safe in different ways.
So what happens if one of the 1 in 5 sexual assaults happens to you or someone you know? The most important thing you can do when someone discloses an assault to you is believe them.
Support them by listening and allowing them to talk with you. Encourage them to access services that are available to them on campus and in the community. A good first step is to contact the Sexual Assault Prevention and Survivor Services program Student Counseling Services. More information can be found on the Web site at counseling.ilstu.edu.
Services are free and confidential and will not result in a formal report being filed. Talking with someone aids recovery and can help survivors access additional resources.