Rape is an unfortunate and ever-present threat to many women across the world, and is frequent in college communities. The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point is no exception. Wisconsin Statistics, a data gathering organization, UWSP had 10 reported sexual assault cases in the year 2005, but an approximate 60 percent of sexual assault cases are not reported to the police.
Dana Smith, the executive coordinator of the Women’s Resource Center, said the problem is that “rape is something that is perpetrated and sometimes even encouraged in American media and culture, the two are confounded.”
Alcohol is often a component in rape cases, where freshman girls are a specific target. These “guys are not your average Joes, they’re predators,” said Dr. Patricia Dyjak, a member of the Women’s Studies advisory committee. “It’s very targeted. It isn’t a misunderstanding.”
Identifying the problem is one thing, but a clearly effective plan to eradicate this epidemic is unclear. The only thing that can change is for men and women to learn how to protect themselves, and to raise awareness. Anne Hoffmann, Assistant Director for the Allen center said, “To address sexual violence at UWSP, we need to do two things simultaneously: increase the reporting and hold perpetrators responsible.”
The event of sexual assault doesn’t always fit the cliché. “Rapists aren’t waiting in every alley to jump on an unsuspecting person. Most assailants personally know the person they are assaulting,” said Smith.
It’s always important to move with a group of people, and never to find yourself alone at a party. Even the way you hold yourself in a public setting can help protect you. Predators “see politeness as a sign of submission,” said Dyjak. Predators infer that due to politeness their victims would be afraid to raise their voices.
Also, because of this, many rapes go unreported. A reason for such a low percentage of victims reporting sexual crimes lies within our culture. “We have a largely victim-blame mentality, not because we are unintelligent, we just don’t know how to deal with the fact that ‘good boys’ rape,” said Hoffmann.
Many agree that changes need to be made on campus and in our culture to alter the way sexual assault is viewed, and ultimately to give more of a way for women to protect themselves and to report victimization.
“Other institutions are light-years ahead of UWSP, I wonder what the objection is for why we have not adopted best practices for reporting and perpetrator accountability?” asked Hoffmann.
The Women’s Resource Center on campus can be found in Room 65 in the Dreyfus University Center. It is a student-run center that focuses on raising awareness of women’s issues through programs and activities. They provide resources on sexual assault, domestic violence, and eating disorders. Their door is always open.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of rape, call the police, a friend or family member, or contact the Sexual Assault Victim Services at (715)-343-7125.