Center for Public Integrity Report: Sexual Assault on Campus

The Center for Public Integrity published a valuable report on campus sexual assault on December 1. In an email to members they write:

Students who have been the victim of sexual assaults on college campuses face a depressing litany of barriers that often either assure their silence or leave them feeling victimized a second time, according to the Center for Public Integrity’s nine-month investigation Sexual Assault on Campus: A Frustrating Search for Justice

This important project was informed by interviews with 48 experts familiar with the college disciplinary process—student affairs administrators, conduct hearing officers, assault services directors, and victim advocates—as well as 33 students who reported being raped.

Nearly half the students interviewed by the Center for this project reported they unsuccessfully sought criminal charges; district attorneys often shy away from such cases, because they are “he said, she said” disputes sometimes clouded by drugs or alcohol. That often leaves students to deal with a campus judiciary system shrouded in secrecy. Those who do come forward can encounter mysterious disciplinary proceedings, closed-mouth school administrations and off-the-record negotiations. At times, official school policies lead to dropped complaints and, in some cases, gag orders later found to be illegal. College administrators believe the existing processes provide a fair and effective way to deal with ultra-sensitive allegations, but alleged victims say these processes have little transparency or accountability, and regularly result in little or no punishment for alleged assailants.

Accompanied by multimedia features including interviews with student survivors and a toolkit to help students, parents, educators and administrators explore this issue in their own campus communities, these first reports in an ongoing series tell a powerful story about the need for transparency and accountability in classic Center fashion.

Read about the project here

See also:

Pictures from The Clothesline Project at Smith College

Assault and Abuse Against Women Epidemic
Most intimate partner victimizations are not reported to the police. Only approximately one-fifth of all rapes, one-quarter of all physical assaults, and one-half of all stalkings perpetrated against female respondents by intimates were reported to the police. Even fewer rapes, physical assaults, and stalkings perpetrated against male respondents by intimates were reported. The majority of victims who did not report their victimization to the police thought the police would not or could not do anything on their behalf.

National Center for PTSD Fact Sheet on Domestic Violence
It is estimated that, regarding violent behavior toward females within the context of an intimate relationship, only 20% of all rapes, 25% of all physical assaults, and 50% of all stalking are ever reported to the police [Tjaden & Thoennes study]. Victims may be reluctant to come forward for a variety of reasons. First, they may fear retaliation from their partner. They may have been directly threatened that if they tell anyone they will be killed, or they may just fear the worst. Second, there is shame associated with choosing a partner who could be violent, and there is shame associated with staying with a violent partner. Finally, some victims may have tried to seek help from the police, the courts, or others and been dissatisfied with the help they received.

StandardNET: “Pornography at root of more and more domestic violence incidents”
One in four women have experienced or are in a violent domestic relationship…

Testimony in Massachusetts: Porn Confuses Young Men about How to Behave
There’s a professor of psychology at UMass Boston who has done his doctoral dissertation and subsequent research on sexual aggression among young college males, and he’s found that in dozens and dozens of interviews that young guys will sit there in a room with him, and they’ll admit to or talk matter-of-factly about, “I did this to her, I did that, and we did this and that,” and they never once refer to themselves as rapists, of course, and they never once refer to the behavior that they’ve engaged in as raping behavior, or in any way criminal. But this psychologist will tell you that he knows that if they were under oath in the court of law, they would be admitting to first degree felonies, but they think it’s normal, perfectly natural herterosexual relations.

Porn and a Hostile Learning Environment at M.I.T.
One example is in the dorms, where despite requests by women students that pornographic films not be shown in common living rooms, some male students insisted on their right to show the films. In two cases, a male student insisted on showing Deep Throat, a film which presents Linda “Lovelace” Marchiano, who we talked about earlier today, despite women students in the dorm telling this particular man that it was offensive to show Deep Throat since it has been documented in her books–Ordeal and Out of Bondage–that she was tortured and terrorized into [making it]. Secondly, they told him that at least one of the students who was a resident of that dormitory had been throat-raped in that particular way, and she felt particularly traumatized by the showing of that film. Despite her efforts and other women’s trying to talk to him about showing the film, he showed it anyway to a whole group of students from the dorm. As a result, she and other students lost sleep, she lost a lot of school time. The one student was a doctoral student, and felt extremely harassed. She tried to address this through the M.I.T. administration and go nowhere because they refuse to take an active stance around pornography. And then she was further harassed in that dormintory through threatening notes, etc., for trying to stop the showing of that film…

Testimony in Massachusetts: Porn and a Hostile Living Environment at M.I.T.
I was one of the few women who spoke out and attempted to explain to men and women why pornography hurt me. Rumors spread quickly throughout the dorm about me, and people I once considered friends gave me nasty looks. While visiting a friend, I was verbally harassed by three men. The same graduate resident who had been present at the pornography showing silently watched me being driven to tears, reaffirming the men’s stance and their abusive treatment of me. A friend of mine was threatened by the house president that she would have the lab partner from hell if she did not quiet down and silence me. For about two weeks, I was followed around the dorm by one of the men. He would be at most two steps behind me, encroaching upon my feeling of personal space and my sense of safety. He would wait for me outside of people’s bedrooms trying to listen to conversations, in p
laces he was not known to frequent. When the housemaster was made aware of the situation by a friend, all of the proposed actions seemed unreasonable. It felt as if I was only setting myself up for retaliation. After feeling the anger from people while speaking out against pornography, I did not feel strong enough to face more intimidation and harassment from my peers.

Behind the Scenes of Deep Throat with Linda Lovelace
[Explicit language:] “Marchiano traveled to campuses to speak out about her two and a half year imprisonment by her husband/manager Chuck Traynor. Linda’s speech encouraged women on the campus to protest outside the fraternity-sponsored showing of Deep Throat. She said that in this movie there are visible bruises all over her body that attest to part of her torture. The fraternity brothers’ response, was to shout out during Deep Throat: ‘Fuck her, hurt her, rip her.’ Toward the other females on the screen they screamed comments such as ‘Ugly bitch and whore.’ They chanted, ‘Bruises, Bruises, Bruises!’ continually during the film.”

Porn Use Correlates with Infidelity, Prostitution, Aggression, Rape-Supportive Beliefs
In 1995, Human Communication Research reported on a meta-analysis of 33 different studies. Researchers found that “Exposure to pornography increases behavioral aggression. While there are many factors that influence this effect (for example, the content of the pornography viewed), the researchers conclude that a connection between exposure to pornography and subsequent behavioral aggression exists.”

In 2000, researchers reported in Annual Review of Sex Research that “A relationship exists between frequent pornography consumption and sexually aggressive behavior. This relationship is especially strong for those with the highest “predisposing” risk level for sexual aggression. Those who are at high risk for sexual aggression and who frequently consume pornography have sexual aggression levels that are four times higher than those who do not consume pornography frequently.”

Evidence Assessment: The Role of Pornography in the Physical Abuse of Women
The REA [Rapid Evidence Assessment] identified three studies involving such women. Sommers and Check (1987) surveyed 21 battered women from a shelter and a comparison group of 21 women from the university to investigate the role of pornography in the physical abuse of women. They found the partners of the battered women read or viewed significantly greater amounts of pornographic materials than the partners of the comparison group, and the ‘battered women experienced significantly more sexual aggression at the hands of their partners than did women in the comparison group’ (p 189).

American Association of University Women
According to the report [“Hostile Hallways: Bullying, Teasing, and Sexual Harassment in School (2001)”], based on a national survey of 2,064 public school students in 8th through 11th grades conducted by Harris Interactive:

  • 83% of girls and 79% of boys report having ever experienced harassment. 

    • The number of boys reporting experiences with harassment often or occasionally has increased since 1993 (56% vs. 49%), although girls are still somewhat more likely to experience it.
    • For many students sexual harassment is an ongoing experience: over 1 in 4 students experience it “often.”