Sexual assault on college campuses is endemic.
Twenty to 25 percent of college women and 15 percent of college men are victims of forced sex during their time in college and more than 90 percent of those assaults are not reported, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
At Auburn, the number of reported cases of rape and fondling over four years, from 2017 to 2014, is a total of 45.
With an average of around 27,000 students enrolled during this time period, 45 reported cases comes out to less than a fraction of 1 percent of students at Auburn reporting sexual assault.
There is a nationwide problem with survivors not feeling comfortable enough to report.
Often times, survivors of assault do not feel like they will be believed or that the process of reporting will make them relive their assault.
Auburn is no safe haven from assault. Just like every other college around the country, the statistics concerning assault at Auburn are misleadingly low.
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April is sexual assault awareness month — a time to call attention to this issue, engage the public in this ordinarily hard-to-talk-about issue, encourage survivors to report their assaults and empower survivors so they understand they are not alone.
Last month, everyone at Auburn received a campus safety notice sent regarding an assault reported by a female student that took place at an apartment leased by an Auburn-affiliated entity.
Seeing a survivor report their assault is hopefully encouraging to other survivors, reminding them they are not alone and empowering those who have been and who may be assaulted in the future to also report.
The theme this year is “I ask,” focusing the month’s discussion around consent, the dynamics and importance of consent and the proper way to obtain and communicate consent.
Consent is imperative to ensure no boundaries are crossed and that, while engaging in sexual activities or dating, each person is comfortable.
In the digital age, consent is becoming increasingly important to understand and communicate so that physical and digital boundaries are not crossed and action does not lead to harassment.
Each year, the theme is set and coordinated by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
The NSVRC also provides a wealth of resources and materials to help educate people about the theme, engage people in discourse about sexual assault, bolster awareness and help people coordinate events and campaigns surrounding the theme.
There are several events on campus this month held by the women’s studies program in coordination with the Women’s Initiatives in the the Office of Inclusion and Diversity to help promote awareness around assault, educate about consent and sex and advocate for survivors of assault.
On behalf of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Green Dot will also be providing bystander intervention training on April 24 from noon to 3 p.m. Green Dot is a program that promotes the Green Dot strategy on how to create positive social change by eliminating and reducing acts of violence and assault.
Green Dot provides regular trainings to help educate people so they know how to recognize the signs of assault and violence, act and hopefully prevent the assault from ever happening.
Green Dot is one program on campus that works toward reducing violence on campus, but there are many other offices that work with survivors of assault.
Auburn’s Title IX office, Student Counseling Services, the Medical Clinic, Safe Harbor and other offices can facilitate and cater to the needs of a survivor of assault.
There are many community resources off campus in place to help survivors of assault including the Rape Counselors of East Alabama, the Domestic Violence Intervention Center and the Unity Wellness Center.
- Auburn Title IX Coordinator — survivors can report an assault to the Title IX coordinator who then facilitates an investigation and, following the investigation, can implement permanent measures to ensure the safety of the survivor and enact University disciplinary sanctions on the attacker. 334-844-4794 • auburn.edu/titleIX
- Auburn Police Division — survivors of assault can report an assault to the Auburn Police Division to initiate a formal investigation enforcing all laws surrounding assault and can lead to prosecution of the attacker. 334-501-3100 or 911 • auburnalabama.org/ps
- Lee County District Attorney’s Office — the district attorney’s office prosecutes all sexual assault cases in Lee County and handles victim advocacy for court proceedings. 334-737-3446 • leecountyda.org
- Safe Harbor — a confidential service that provides advocacy and support where students and employees can report stalking, dating violence, domestic violence or sexual assault. 334-844-7233 • auburn.edu/safeharbor
- Student Counseling Services — a free mental health service to students that offers 10 counseling sessions per academic year. 334-844-5123 • auburn.edu/scs
- Rape Counselors of East Alabama — a free and confidential counseling service available to survivors and survivors’ families and friends. 334-705-0510 • rapecounselorsofeastalabama.com
- Employee Assistance Program — provides free, confidential mental health services for all regular employees and their dependents. 800-925-5327
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