Sexual violence on campus
To acknowledge the importance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I met with Simpson College senior and Sexual Assault Response Advocate (SARA) Anna Ronnebaum to discuss sexual violence on college campuses.
Ronnebaum said she joined SARA after multiple sexual assaults occurred on campus her freshman year.
“There was a lot of doubt and a lot of victim blaming, and not a lot happened,” Ronnebaum said. “The perpetrators weren’t getting any of the heat; it was the people who stepped up and reported. I felt like that was so backward and so wrong.”
Victim blaming is a common practice in dealing with rape, and it’s this type of action that “contributes to this rape culture that we live in,” Ronnebaum said.
One example Ronnebaum mentioned is when people scrutinize a victim’s clothing.
“It doesn’t matter what he or she was wearing, nobody deserves to be raped,” Ronnebaum said. “In reality, in people who get raped, the most common article of clothing is a pair of jeans.
“I think a lot of times it’s focuses on women because when you want to look nice you show a little cleavage or show a little leg, and that’s what society tells you is beautiful,” she said. “But at the same time if something were to happen to you, those are the things that they point out.”
As a member of SARA, Ronnebaum educates members of the community on sexual assault. She received a week of intensive training by Polk County Crisis and Advocacy Services to learn how to help victims.
Members rotate carrying the SARA phone, which is a 24-hour confidential hotline. Calls can range from people writing reports and needing information to a person calling to report a sexual assault on campus.
“Some people just want to talk to someone and say it out loud,” Ronnebaum said.
Often, calls are from friends of victims wondering how to help, she said.
“What a lot of people don’t realize is that there are a lot of secondary victims: friends, family, advocates,” Ronnebaum said. “You take on those emotions when someone you care about is hurt.”
Ronnebaum said a major role in her position is educating students.
“Rape is about control and power,” Ronnebaum said.
Often people believe that sexual assaults will never happen on their campuses. The fact is, however, that they do.
My point: Sexual violence can happen anywhere. Your campus isn’t its own little bubble free from this problem.
One in 33 men will experience rape or attempted rape.
Rape, attempted rape or sexual assault happens every two minutes in the United States.
Less than one-third of all sexually violent crimes are reported to the police, and the statistics are even lower for college-age victims.
According to national research, false reports are rare, occurring between 2 percent to 8 percent of the time.
35 percent of men report at least some degree of likelihood of committing rape if they knew they would not be caught or punished.
Statistics courtesy of SARA.