Sexual assault will always be a problem on university campuses, despite the 44 percent of students who reported that they believed sexual violence was not a problem at UK, according to results from the CATS survey. Many students know someone who has, or have themselves, been sexually assaulted.
UK Police sent an email on Nov. 2 that said they had received a report of sexual misconduct that happened in a campus residence hall.
The email also said students should be active bystanders that report suspicious information and seek to help other students when something like this happens.
Some of the language students use to discuss victims of sexual assault is both insensitive and promoting of stereotypes that hinder justice against their assailants. The way victims dress, their behavior or the environment they willingly put themselves in does not lead to sexual assault. Sexual assault arises from the desire of assailants to harm another person, damage their self worth and serve their own desire to exert dominance.
“It really comes down to power and control, that’s at the heart of it,” Director of Violence Intervention and Prevention Center Rhonda Henry said. “It is exerting power and control over someone else. Not being able to listen to the limits or boundaries someone sets.”
According to the CATS survey, 23 percent of UK students were sexually harassed within the past year. However, 65 percent of students sexually assaulted reported that they did not seek help from UK resources.
The top reasons students didnt report it to a UK sourcewere they wanted to forget it happened, felt it was a private matter, embarrassed, did not want to deal with the formal procedures and did not want the person to get in trouble.
The feelings and thoughts of these victims is completely understandable considering the viciousness of the crime committed against them, which is why it is so discouraging and damaging for them to hear people make excuses for the people who assualted them.
“Often it’s going to be somebody that they know (who perpetrators target). It may be in a situation where there has been drinking or using some other drugs, that may make their resistance lower, or make them more unable to protect themselves,” Henry said. “So it’s much more about circumstance and opportunity. I think that myth that rampant sexual desire is not really the reality of how that plays out.”
The motives behind why someone would sexually assault another person shouldnt be justified with statements like, “it’s just boys being boys,” or “they probably thought she wanted it to.”
“Often some studies have looked at whether or not perpetrators have willing sexual partners, and a lot of times they do,” Henry said. “So it’s not that they don’t have access to someone to have sex with, it’s much more about a violation of someone’s boundaries, feeling powerful, enjoying that rush of power that they get by overcoming some resistance, it’s really complex.”
Green Dot at the UK turns students from bystanders into activists.
“One of the big things is the bystander intervention, called GreenDot,” UK Police Chief Joe Monroe said. “It’s really critical that if you are at a party and you see something going on, whether you know her or not, you step in and remove them from that situation. By stepping in and being that intervention, it can really help a lot and reduce these numbers of sexual assault.”
Students should never feel like their intervention would cause social backlash or make them look overly suspicious of people with questionable behavior. Even if a student or professor responded unfavorably, what matters more: momentarily mistaking a situation or the chance that someone could become a victim of a brutal crime?
“When you see something, trust in your gut, because the worst thing that is going to happen is you’re wrong and everything is okay,” Henry said.
There are many initiatives to feel safe on campus and one of them is free to students. Students can request a free SAFECATS safety escort or coordinate after-hours on-demand bus service during the fall and spring semesters by calling 859-257-SAFE(7233).