Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Scope of campus acquaintance rape

“No!” she remembers yelling. “Take me home! I want to go home!” her drunken voice commanded to the man laying on top of her attempting to strip her out of the t-shirt and jeans she wore to a friend’s house party.

“I remember crying and using the word no,” she recalls. “He took my cell phone and wouldn’t let me call anybody.”

The unnamed victim (we will call “Jane”), who told her story on condition of anonymity, recalled ending up alone with her assailant, whom she knew.

“Instead of taking me back to my house,” she said, “he took me back to his apartment.”

Alone in his apartment, she remembers the offender pressuring her into drinking beyond her limit. “He told me he would take me home after we drank some more,” she recalled.

But he never drove her home, and her many pleas – before and during the sexual assault fell on her co-worker’s deaf ears.

It seems complicated, as most sexual assault cases are.

Yes, the victim did in fact have a prior sexual relationship with her would-be attacker. But that night, though, his sexual advances were unwanted and she made it clear. At least she thought.

Contrary to widespread stranger-rape myths, according to a report funded by the Department of Justice, in the vast majority of sexual assault crimes between 80 and 90 percent victim and assailant know each other, as was the case with “Jane”, 18, and in her first semester of college at the time of the assault.

In fact, experts report that the more intimate the relationship between offender and victim prior to the assault, “the more likely it is for a rape to be completed rather than attempted.” Again, “Jane’s” experience reinforces the Department of Justice’s report.

Furthermore, the report also concluded that half of all student victims of unwanted sexual assault do not classify their incident as rape.

“This is particularly true when no weapon is used, no sign of physical injury is evident and alcohol was involved,” the report said.

All factors true, once more. In the “Jane” case was alcohol involved, the perpetrator was known and no weapon was used. Although she told her parents the same night and was taken to a hospital, she never filed formal criminal charges against her offender.

“I was scared and confused,” she said, as most victims of sexual assault are. “Afterwards, I lay there crying for a while,” the victim remembers. “But I called my parents and told them what happened.”

The report also notes that the fact that most sexual assaults on campus are committed by an acquaintance explains, in part, why these crimes are underreported.

Years later, “Jane” still finds it difficult to speak openly about her experience, choosing to communicate with her reporter through one of the few friends she’s ever spoken to about her horrifying ordeal.

“After some time went on,” she said, “I told some close friends because I felt like I needed to tell somebody other than my parents.”

But almost as terrifying is the fact that according to official data, her painful ordeal, along with an estimated 95 percent of other sexual assaults on campus, have never happened.

The Campus Security Act of 1990, which was later renamed the Jeanne Clery Act after a 19-year old student who was raped and murdered in her dormitory in 1986, mandates an annual security report of crimes committed in and around campus, for each Federally funded school. UTSA’s 2010 Crime Report includes data on on-campus crimes between 2007 and 2009. No Crime Report was available for the 2010 calendar year but a 60-day summary of offenses can be found on UTSAPD’s website.

“Schools are not the safe haven they once appeared to be; college women are at high risk for sexual assault than their non-college-bound peers,” the Department of Justice concluded.

As 15,135 UTSA female students begin trickling out of their classrooms and into the arms of the ever-so-drunk boys of summer, one should wonder: What needs to happen for university officials to stop denying the issue of unreported sexual assaults on campus?

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