Silence Among Victims Of Sexual Abuse Encourages The Perpetrators
Years ago, Duke University planned to adopt a harsher sexual assault policy in the college. Expulsion rather than a suspension for first offenders was considered by the disciplinary committee.
From the number of victims who filed for Title IX in 2012, there were yet others who never made a report. The reported cases only represent 5% of the sexually assaulted students in the colleges while the rest of 95% were never bold enough to make a report.
While the Duke’s policy may be a welcomed development for the few who make a report, the majority of other students will rather be silent about the crime for some cogent reasons.
Probable Reasons For Silence
At universities and colleges, the rapist is not always a stranger. It is somebody known. Statistics show that 9 out of 10 survivors know the perpetrator of the offense. 41% of these offenders are most times the survivor’s boyfriend.
The relationship makes it difficult to talk about the violation not to talk of making a report on the matter. The survivor is first afraid and traumatized to not want to blow things out of proportion. She may not be able to handle this. The stigma and social detachment she may suffer if she makes it open may be a good reason for her not speaking out.
Policies such as Duke’s even make things worse for victims who won’t want to be tagged the bad girl for ruining a guy life when expelled, a guy she may still have feelings for. Founder of Know Your IX, an anti-sexual violence movement, Alexandra Brodsky, a graduate of Yale, had this experience. According to her, she had known the guy for two years. With that feeling still strong, she opt to not make a report because she didn’t want the guy to be expelled.
Another one was Stephanie’s case. She simply did not make a report because she was afraid the punishment expected on the guy may affect her.
Friends may even find it difficult to believe her as a freshman and was drunk at the night while the guy in question was well-known as a good and nice guy.
Perpetrators Are Not Discouraged
There is no doubt that victims’ keeping silent about sexual violence in the colleges and universities unknowingly encourages perpetrators from continuing the dastardly act.
Punishment is the only punitive measure to stop offenders and others from going the same path. If a report is not made by the victim, it is just as if nothing happened in the first place. This gives the offender freedom to carry out another. To him, victims do not really bother about the offense after all.
Victims To Be Part of Deciding Final Punishment
For the subject at hand, a critical look at what is preventing victims from making a report should be vital for administrators of colleges and universities to look at. Policies that are formulated may be responsible for why students are not free to come forward aside from the shame and isolation they may have from colleagues.
If the stringent punishment prevents college victims from speaking out, making them part of the final decision and on the type of punishment against offenders may make some difference in encouraging others to come forward when next an assault is committed. They will be given the opportunity to support any punishment they can abide with if outright expulsion is too harsh for them to bear.