Between 20 and 25 percent of college-aged women and six percent of men are victims of rape during their years at school. Most perpetrators are not strangers but acquaintances, friends or romantic interests.
Despite the prominence of sexual violence on college campuses, a startling number of attacks go unreported. The American Association of Women estimates that 65 percent of these cases are never brought to the attention of police or university officials.
Some common causes for this phenomenon are fear of retribution from the attacker, embarrassment and the victim’s belief that it was their fault. These are all psychological consequences of a traumatic event, perpetuated by the social stigma which dictates that these survivors should be ashamed.
It is certain that before more rape and harassment victims step forward, societal ideas about the crime and those who’ve lived through it have to change.
But another serious reason that some remain silent— the belief that their school won’t do anything about the incident—has barely been addressed. This can be especially problematic where institutional policies on sexual violence are lenient, poorly defined, or non-existent.
Hopefully, positive institutional changes will occur as a result of a new set of federal guidelines to prevent sexual violence in U.S. public schools.
Today, Vice President Joe Biden will disclose these suggestions, which are in the form of a “Dear Colleague” letter clarifying and expanding upon Title IX, at the University of New Hampshire.