According to an interview with Susan Carbon, Director of the Department of Justice, even though the nation has witnessed a decrease in the area of violent crime in recent years, the area of crime against women has actually experienced a dramatic increase. Ms. Carbon pointed out that the primary areas of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking still continue to have a major impact on many women across the country. Campus SaVE Act is a bold and necessary step towards addressing these crimes.
As many statistics bear out, each year:
- One in every four women will experience severe physical violence by a former spouse, boyfriend, or significant other.
- Stalkers will victimize approximately 5.2 million women with domestic violence-related stalking being the most common.
- One in five women can expect to be raped in their lifetime with 1.3 million rapes being reported every year.
Crimes Against Women on College Campuses
While these figures can be quite sobering, these four major crimes can be even more alarming when they occur on college campuses. However, there is an added layer of concern as statistics show that a major contributing factor to the increasing violence against women on college campuses seems to be a direct result of alcohol in many circumstances.
It appears that many college rapists avoid the justice system by targeting women who will not be considered credible because of alcohol, drug use, or some other similarly related factors. Their tactics are often to ply women with alcohol before using force. The statistics seem to give weight to this argument:
- 19% of undergraduate women reported experiencing completed or attempted sexual assault since entering college. The majority of these assaults occurred while the woman was incapacitated with alcohol.
- There is a higher risk of incapacitated rape while a woman is in college.
- More than 80% of undetected college rapists reported committing rapes of women who were incapacitated because of drugs or alcohol.
- Still, as alarming as these figures are they are not reported with any level of accuracy.
Most Crimes are Unreported
While these statistics may seem a bit extreme it becomes even more disturbing when you consider that most crimes that involve violence against women go unreported, leaving their victims to suffer in silence because of traditional views and societal attitudes. For most women, they will be left alone with feelings of guilt and shame, never reaching out to seek the help they need from police, hospitals, crisis centers, or shelters. It is estimated that only 2% of victims of incapacitated rape reported the assault to law enforcement.
What Can Be Done About It
This paints a grim picture of the level of crime against women on college campuses, however, there are other added layers of violence against women that are quite common when it comes to assaults that occur on college campuses. Consider the facts that unlike other forms of sexual assault or violence against women, many of these crimes are committed in full view of witnesses or bystanders.
With 60% of alcohol-facilitated rapes occurring at parties, there are more often than not witnesses to the crime, yet few people feel compelled to intervene. Clearly, this is where the new Campus SaVE Act can be of immense support. With the need to change the campus culture a re-education needs to be implemented that will offer new programs like Bystander Intervention Training to change the social attitudes that continue to contribute to this growing problem on our nation’s campuses.
As we watch our nation’s campuses evolve under this new law, we’ll see new educational programs emerge to redirect college thinking starting from the top down. Administrators will be enlisted as partners in reaching out to all those involved. Bystanders will be less afraid to speak up when they see things without fear of repercussions and with the combined efforts of drug and alcohol abuse centers working with the school police, department of justice, and other authorities we will slowly begin to see much of the crimes changing making our campuses safe for women everywhere.