Warning: the material in this article contains content that may be highly sensitive to some readers.
With the recent Brett Kavanaugh case, sexual assault has once again been put underneath the media’s spotlight. However, for a lot of people, the pain doesn’t go away after next week’s news cycle. According to the Rainn Center, in the United States a woman is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds. 94 percent of people who are sexually assaulted experience PTSD, and 70 percent still feel lingering distress after the assault, which is a larger percentage than any other violent crime. College-aged students are also more likely to be assaulted, with ages between 19 and 34 comprising 50 percent of all reported sexual assaults in 2017. Statistically, only 20 percentage of victims come forward to law enforcement, which means that many of the perpetrators are not charged. This sets a terrible precedent.
If a student thinks they have been sexually assaulted on campus, or even outside of campus, they can use the Title IX of the Education Amendments to get assistance, giving students a way to report and prosecute offenders. Title IX is used to prevent sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking and gender-identity discrimination in higher education. It also keeps victims safe from any retribution from the offender. “Our goal is to make sure that people’s education are not interrupted, and that’s for both sides,” said Title IX coordinator Rachel Wellman. “Not just for the impacted party but also for the responding party.” This is because many of the cases that go through the Title IX office are misunderstandings or situations that do not require a full-blown investigation. Those cases are handled informally. “People show up on campus trying to be human, and being human can be messy. So a lot of our conversations are ‘that behavior means that this person doesn’t want to date you,’ and helping them understand that and navigate them through that,” continued Wellman. In more serious situations, the Title IX office can accommodate any situation with the use of internal and external resources. “The person who was directly impacted gets to decide how we move forward, we’re not gonna do things that they don’t want to do, we’re not gonna talk to people they don’t want us to, because we’re trying to make things more comfortable, not make things worse.” Wellman explained.
The Title IX assistant coordinator, Jill Powell, even suggested that, “[they] would love to see students that work to support each other, [and] provide trainings for their peers. That’s been shown to have a greater impact on peer intervention.”
If any students are looking to report a claim, or have any questions, the Title IX office is located in C227, or by calling them at 425-564-2704.