Reporting sexual assault

Sexual assault reports only tell a part of the story of a pejorative crime.

by Daily Editorial Board

The University of Minnesota-Duluth only reported three sexual assaults to the federal government from 2008 to 2010, but those numbers paint an incomplete picture of sexual violence on the Duluth campus.

Compared to colleges in the area of similar size, these numbers are low. The Statesman, the Duluth campus newspaper, reported that every year 2.8 to 5.6 percent — as many as 300 — of its female students say they have experienced attempted or completed sexual assault, according to University surveys. So between 2008 and 2010, even low estimates point to hundreds of women experiencing some form of sexual assault — a drastic difference from the number of reported incidents.

At the University of Minnesota, 61 forcible sexual offenses were reported between 2008 and 2010. The Aurora Center also served 146 clients in 2011 who had concerns or experiences of sexual assault. While it may seem like victims of sexual assault on the Twin Cities campus are reporting more, it’s not the case relative to its size.

Survivors of sexual assault may feel uncomfortable coming forward because of shame, a lack of trust in the justice system, fears of what the perpetrator might do to them or that no one will believe them.

Sexual assault statistics on college campuses only show a fraction of the issue. The reality is far too many cases go unreported and ignored.

As a whole, the University must strive to make reporting sexual assault as easy as possible and educate new students about where they can seek help.