Nationwide, sexual assault cases are underreported, overwhelming

Agencies across the country struggle with a sensitive issue in the national spotlight

By Gary Grumbach

First. Second. Third. These are the three degrees used to describe the more than 1,900 rape cases reported in the state in 2012, according to the North Carolina Department of Justice. Many of the reported rapes took place on or near college campuses across the Tarheel state.

The individuals involved in these 1,900 cases have had their stories reported. Most of the victims are in the process of, or working toward, getting the help they need. However, many assaults go unreported, sexual violence can occur in many different forms and women aren’t its only victims.

What is the real number of unreported sexual assault cases occurring in North Carolina in 2012? No one knows. And because of that, those individuals will receive no assistance.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline has collected important details from top sources into this list of 10 things you might not know about sexual assault.
  1. One in every 10 sexual assault victims is male (RAINN).
  2. Sexual assault occurs as often during the daytime as it does during the night (Stanford Sexual Assault and Relationship Abuse Prevention & Support).
  3. Nearly half of sexual assault victims are under the age of 18 and 80 percent are under 30 (RAINN).
  4. Victims of sexual assault are more prone to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, trouble sleeping and anxiety disorders (CDC).
  5. Tw0 out of three assaults are perpetrated by someone whom the victim knows. Thirty-eight percent of rapists are a friend or acquaintance of the victim (RAINN).
  6. Nearly 25 percent women will experience some sort of sexual assault in their lifetime (National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence).
  7. Half of all sexual assaults happen within a mile of the victim’s home (RAINN).
  8. Only 46 of every 100 sexual assaults are reported to police. Of the 46, only 12 will lead to an arrest. Out of the 12 arrests, only nine attackers will be prosecuted.
  9. Out of those prosecutions, only five will lead to a felony conviction. Of the five convictions, three of the perpetrators spend even single day in jail (RAINN).
  10. Instances of sexual assault have decreased nearly 60 percent since the year 2000 (U.S. Department of Justice).

Local Organizations Like Crossroads in Burlington Are Making a Difference

Sexual assault has no age minimum.

Children are some of the most common victims.

Julie Budd is the volunteer and outreach coordinator at the Crossroads Sexual Assault Response & Resource Center, a Burlington, North Carolina, non-profit organization dedicated to serving the needs of assault victims. She said her organization has worked with nearly 500 children. “We are there to provide that listening ear,” said Budd.

Budd said Crossroads works to connect those in need with the assistance they require. “We know the emotions that this violence triggers are very powerful, so it is very helpful to have an advocate to be able to turn to,” she explained.

The U.S. Department of Justice reports that more than 60,000 sexual assault cases were classified as sexual assault to children in 2012. The Bureau of Justice Statistics National Criminal Victimization Survey reported that in 2012 there were 346,830 reported rapes or sexual assaults of persons 12 years or older. The DOJ also reported that it expects that only 30 percent of sexual assault cases are reported to authorities.

Sexual violence reports on college campuses in decline but still relevant

College is a time in most young men and women’s lives when they are away from home for the first times. Freedoms never before experienced are granted. Sometimes one person takes advantage of another in a way that turns college life into a nightmare. While a 2014 DOJ report says reported rapes of women on college campuses are in decline, Most victims on college campuses are assaulted by someone they know. Few acts of sexual aggression or sexual assault are reported, making it the most underreported crime. Because of this, universities have established response units to offer counseling services and other support.

On the campus of Elon University, there are a number of programs and resources available to students. The Sexual Assault and Gender Issues Committee is coordinated by the Office of Health Promotion (See the webpage) to continually develop comprehensive intervention, response and support strategy to address acts of interpersonal violence.

The university also employees a full-time coordinator for violence response tasked with working to continually develop prevention approaches and responses to interpersonal violence.

Two confidential resources are available to students, only one of which is 24/7: SAFEline is a confidential advocacy phone line available at any time. When you call that number, a trained person is able to assist with immediate medical attention, safety plans and other options for immediate support, reporting and university resources. The phone number to reach SAFEline is (336)-278–3333.

Health and counseling services are available during business hours at the R. N. Ellington Center for Health and Wellness, located at 301 South O’Kelly Avenue.

Working to do more to advocate for prevention and victim assistance

Are the systems in place enough to prevent sexual assault? Julie Budd of Crossroads says no.

“I don’t think anybody does enough,” said Budd. “Once you start to really dig into the issues, and see how pervasive it is, you understand. I can’t spend longer than an hour anywhere in Alamance County without a victim coming forward and saying, ‘This happened to me.’”

Budd said part of the outreach of Crossroads extends to connecting to victims who have been admitted to Alamance Regional Medical Center for treatment. There’s also a need to lend support to the families of victims.

“A lot of times we find that it (the assault) will trigger something in the family,” Budd said. “We end up having other victims to console. A friend, or a sister, or a mom who will show up to the hospital and say to the volunteer, ‘Oh, this same thing happened to me 10 years ago.’ In a crisis, your old ways of doing things are not sufficient. Whatever happened will push people into realizing they need new skills.” At that point, Budd says, victims reach out to the services of places like Crossroads.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Organizations from coast to coast are planning events to bring awareness to the issue of sexual assault, and all aspects of the crime. At Elon, events are being held throughout the next week. Below is a schedule of planned events by the Office of Health Promotion.

In the state of North Carolina, there are many non-profits and government organizations dedicated to providing resources to those affected by sexual assault.

In addition to Crossroads, the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault advocates for the rights of survivors of sexual violence and for those individuals and organizations that assist survivors.

DoSomething.Org and Change.Org are two user-driven sites where real people can make real change. They write about a cause they believe in, propose a way to help solve or prevent the problem and get people involved in advocating for it.

The bottom line: Sexual assault happens across the nation more than anybody realizes. Sexual assault takes place daily on college campuses from California to Connecticut.

The question is not, “What are others going to do about this problem?” The question is, “How quickly can I help prevent this from becoming more of an epidemic than it already is.”

As the anti-sexual violence slogan goes, “kNOw MORE.

About the multimedia journalist:

R4PG sat down with reporter Gary Grumbach to gain insights about his in-depth report on sexual assaults on college campuses.

Gary Grumbach is a junior broadcast journalism major at Elon University from Readington, New Jersey. He is 2015 intern for “NBC Nightly News.” He has previously interned at WFMZ-TV in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s Office of Communications. He has three years of campus reporting experience and now works as news director at Elon Local News. Follow him on Twitter @GaryGrumbach