Sexual violence is a topic people are often reluctant to discuss.
“People are afraid to talk about it, and people will say oh that happened in the past, move forward, but people are still dealing with it,” said Andy Morgan, Ph.D., Indiana State University Dean of Students Andy Morgan.
With much of the country still in a hot debate over the recent Brett Kavanaugh and subsequent Supreme Court confirmation, victims are faced with the topic everywhere they turn.
“For a lot of the folks that I work with, this is really a difficult time to interact with the world, to be on social media, to be on campus, because everyone is having conversations about these things, it’s almost unavoidable to talk about sexual violence right now, and that’s both a good thing and a bad thing,” said Amanda Hobson, ISU Assistant Dean of Students, Director of the Women’s Resource Center, and Victim Advocate.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 20-25% of women and 15% of men are victims of forced sex during their time in college, and of those victims, over 90% do not report the assault.
“Think about telling a stranger about your most recent intimate experience with a partner, just walking up to them and telling them the details of that, and then add in the trauma of it not being a consensual activity, and then thinking, now I’ve got to go tell people that I’ve never met,” said Hobson.
Some college-aged victims choose not to report because they know their perpetrator, or because they were underage drinking at the time of the assault. And while the majority of sexual violence victims are female, 1 in 6 men in the U.S. experience some sort of sexual violence in their lifetime.
Hobson says the current climate causes male victims to suffer in different ways.
“I think about right now, the male survivors that I work with, and what the current climate says to them, that they don’t matter, that they must be an assaulter just because they’re male, just because of their inherent maleness, as they sit there as survivors of sexual violence,” said Hobson.
In order to prevent future violence and create an environment where victims feel they can report assaults, ISU leaders believe they must continue the conversation on campus – a conversation centered on accountability and respect.
“As a man educating other men, I can always do more, but also for the future of my daughters, their friends, and all of our students, I have an obligation to educate others and help them through the process,” said Dean Morgan.
Hobson says it’s important to keep in mind that the issue of sexual violence spans beyond the gender binary of males and females. Statistics show that nearly 50% transgender individuals will be sexually assaulted or abused in their lifetimes.
Once a victim reports the violence to ISU’s Title IX office, the school offers an advisor for both the victim and the respondent, and both parties are interviewed by a Title IX officer to determine whether the accused is responsible. The investigations have a 60-day federal mandate for completion, but Hobson says many cases at ISU are completed in under 30 days.