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Why a rape victim should report a sexual assault

By Keener A. Tippin II

 

Rape, acquaintance rape and other sexual offenses are crimes punishable under Kansas law. Local law enforcement authorities must be notified to commence a criminal action. Kansas State University encourages members of the university community to report complaints of sexual violence to the appropriate law enforcement agency. Confidential assistance by the staff at the Women's Center, located in 206 Holton Hall, in notifying such authorities is available, if the individual desires such assistance.

Rape survivors, unlike victims of other crimes, are often reluctant to report assaults to the police or other authorities. They often fear they will be blamed or disbelieved. They may also know the assailant and want to shield him from severe consequences such as expulsion or imprisonment.

Deciding whether to report the crime can be a very difficult decision. There are several reasons you may choose to report a sexual assault to the police:

* You may need medical attention, including for internal injuries that are not readily apparent. You should be tested for sexually transmitted diseases and for pregnancy. Law enforcement officials can help you access medical assistance.

* Reporting an assault does not commit a victim to pressing charges or to prosecuting the assailant. However, promptly reporting an assault helps create the strongest case possible in the event that you decide to pursue criminal charges and/or university disciplinary action.

* If you delay reporting, physical evidence may become unusable, making prosecution less likely. (Note: In the event that you do not wish to pursue a formal complaint, you may go to the emergency room to be treated for illness and injuries and decline evidence collection.)

* Even if criminal charges are not filed, reporting the crime provides law enforcement personnel with important information, including a description of the assailant and the method of committing the crime. Such information may be helpful in solving other cases.

* Reporting the assault also insures more accurate statistics on the incidence of rape, an important tool in enacting or modifying rape laws and for developing prevention strategies.

* Crime victims can be eligible for financial compensation through the Crime Victim Compensation Program.

* Rapists are often repeat offenders. Reporting may help authorities identify a pattern in a rapist's behavior.

* Reporting a sexual assault is an active way of regaining control. It is a healthy way to channel anger and to appropriately place blame with the perpetrator.

Sexual violence, according to the K-State Policy Prohibiting Sexual Violence, is "antithetical" to the university's mission of education, research, and service because the aim of all these efforts is to foster individual growth in a climate of civilized action rather than brute force and violence. No form of sexual violence will be tolerated or condoned at Kansas State University. This policy thus prohibits not only those acts commonly understood to constitute "sexual assault," but all attempts to coerce certain sexual acts as defined by the policy. Although the university cannot assure protection from sexual violence, it can state expectations of conduct and, in some instances, can impose sanctions on any university student who fails to meet those expectations.

 

August 2003