Women wait to report rape pondering confusion, consequences

Victims often wait months to come forward.

In the first reported rape on campus since September last year, a 19-year-old University of Minnesota student reported on April 6 that she was raped in Sanford Hall on Jan. 17. University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said the incident was an acquaintance rape and she waited months to report it because she was afraid of the consequences âÄî a common trend in college rapes where the victim knows the attacker. Miner said the majority of cases involve the use of alcohol by one or both of those involved, which is what a first-year psychology student said happened to her last summer. She told her mother after a month. âÄúI kind of just ignored it for a while,âÄù she said. âÄúI half-blamed myself for it happening because I got that out of control.âÄù There were six reported rapes on campus in 2008, according to University police , and sexual assault is the most underreported crime on campus, Miner said. Less than five percent of college rape survivors nationally report their assault to the police, according to the Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education . A senior advertising student at the University said she was raped in fall 2008 but didnâÄôt report it to police because she was afraid. She was supposed to graduate, but withdrew from her classes last semester after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome. âÄúFocusing and school stuff was too overwhelming,âÄù she said. âÄúI wasnâÄôt sleeping at night, so I stopped going to classes, and then I fell behind.âÄù She waited six weeks before telling her family, but said she wishes she had told someone right away. On average, about 500 men and 1,300 women experience unwanted sexual contact at the University of Minnesota each year, according to statistics the Aurora Center took from a Boynton Health Service study in 2004. The number of victims who contact the UniversityâÄôs Aurora Center is higher than victims who report to the police. In 2008, 74 people contacted the Aurora Center for acquaintance sexual assault and 24 for stranger sexual assault. Associate Director of the Aurora Center Roberta Gibbons said about 90 percent of college rape victims know their attacker, and most people she sees at the center wait at least a month before coming forward. An actuarial science senior said her friend was raped by an acquaintance in Middlebrook Hall in January 2006 but didnâÄôt report to the police. When she contacted Aurora Center nearly a year later in fall 2006, the center helped to have the attacker transferred to another dorm. Gibbons said there are various reasons why victims hold off on reporting sexual assault. âÄúFor a lot of people, they donâÄôt want to call themselves rape victims,âÄù Gibbons said. âÄúThat carries a lot of baggage with it.âÄù Aurora Center Director Jamie Tiedemann said victims of acquaintance rape often donâÄôt recognize they were sexually assaulted because they know the attacker. âÄúWhen it happens, itâÄôs such a shock to them,âÄù Tiedemann said. âÄúWhen theyâÄôre sexually assaulted by someone they know, itâÄôs the ultimate betrayal.âÄù Gibbons said it takes time for many victims to come to terms with the incident. âÄúThere is a lack of accountability for perpetrators,âÄù Tiedemann said. âÄúThe majority of rapes are rarely successfully prosecuted.âÄù