An estimation of only five percent of sexual assault cases on college campuses are reported, making this one of the most unreported crimes. Throughout the past few decades, sexual assault has become increasinlgy common on college campuses. Because of this, there has been an extreme increase in focus towards the topic. In order to help prevent sexual assault, many university administrators have responded to the needs of the students and have tried to change or impliment new policies. College policies are a very important tool in order to address this issue, however, many people think that the policies are not enough. Many survivors of sexual assault are left unsupported, judged, and isolated. Researchers have suggested that “Although there are are students, staff, and faculty on campuses across the nation who work tirelessly and care deeply about supporting survivors, it needs to be a campus-wide effort” (Monahan et. al. 71). Many survivors believed that the sexual assault experience was the worst thing that had ever happened to them, however, many survivors have realised that the way the survivors were treated on their campus after the attack was exponentially harder. Not only does their experience show great difficulty because of the negative feedback that their involved in, but many survivors of sexual assault obtain a mental illniss because of their tramatic background. Policies do not stop sexual assault from occuring. Colleges too often focus more on policies instead of the students. In most situations, policies do not stop the crime from taking place; focusing on students needs may increase their well being and decrease the negative impacts they endure.
Many people have wondered what can be done about the sexual assault rates and a majority of the responces are changing the school policies. For many years, university administrators have made many efforts to revise, renew, or create policies for sexual violence on campuses. However, throughout their attempts to decrease the crime rate, the problem still persists. One of the authors of this paper, Iverson, “conducted a policy discourse analysis of twenty-two university sexual violence policies, finding that policies tend to overemphasize risk, situating institutional agents as managers of the ubiquity of sexual violence on campuses” (qtd 59). Many people do not approve of the policies that the colleges are choosing to use because “These studies reveal that policy efforts have traditionally focused on risk reduction and deterrence. We are not suggesting that these efforts are not suggesting that these efforts are not worthwhile or should not continue. Rather, these efforts alone will not prevent or end sexual violence. To achieve large reductions in sexual violence, policy must also be used as a prevention strategy” (qtd 60). These policies do not help prevent anything, so that results in many people becoming victims and developing many issues after their experience (para Iverson et. al. 59).
In the first twelve weeks after a sexual assault occurring, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety symptoms become present in victims. Many of these mental illnesses stay present in the victim for most, if not all of their life. JoAnn Buttaro wrote a report on the many different aspects of sexual assault on campuses and included a statistic that distinguishes the differenes of depressive stages between sexual assault victims and non victims.
This figure shows how sexual assault victims tend to carry these issues with them for an extensive amount of time. Scientists were intrigued by this statistic and wanted to link the facts to comorbidity (the presence of more than one disorder presented in a victim) and how to explain comorbidity being involved with PTSD. Pre-existing research has put a major focus on the timing of PTSD symptoms as well as many other disorders that follow trauma. Researchers wanted to put this to the test and see what the results would be. These scientists wanted to investigate the relationship between the changes in PTSD symptoms and changes in other symptoms overtime. These researchers hired a median model that would be able to determine how PTSD symptoms changing over time would impact symptoms of more common disorders such as depression and anxiety in the first sixteen weeks after a sexual assault experience. An explanation from them stated that, “participants in this study were [one hundred and twenty-six] women who had been sexually assaulted within the previous [four] weeks. All participants were over [eighteen] years of age, and were recruited across the United States via advertisements (flyers and online postings) or were referred by medical advocates from a sexual assault crisis center in the Boston area” (qtd 444). The results concluded that fifty percent of the participants had been previously assaulted before this test, and fifteen out of the one hundred and twenty- six were students. The test also concluded that throughout the four months (four meeting/ check in times), the participants had met the criteria for PTSD. (para Nickerson et. al.).
Not only in the previous study, but many more show that sexual assault victims acquire disorders that are not properly treated. Many of the social reactions that survivors experience affect the victims recovery process, both in positive and negative ways. About ninety-two percent of survivors receive a mixture of both positive and negative social feedback. The common negative approaches include blaming the survivor, making an attempt to control the actions of a survivor, focusing on personal feelings instead of the survivors, or simply treating them in a different manner. The positive interactions consist of providing a sense of sentimental and logical support, and input that the incident was not the survivors fault. Both of these types of interactions have a tremendous impact on the survivors' mental state and progress. Although the positive approach seems to be much more pleasant, the negative reactions tend to have a stronger impact on the survivors. In many events, the more negative interactions that occur, the bigger the setback in the survivors recovery process is presented and occasionally increasing their PTSD symptoms. There are many psychological factors that present these outcomes on patients. For example, negative impacts can cause survivors control over their progress to decrease, causing more negative involvement over their feelings and thoughts about their recovery and/or the assault itself. These negative impacts include withdrawal in social events, increasing amounts of distress, decrease in looking for support from others, depending on coping strategies that resort to avoidance, and many more. Many survivors turn to maladaptive coping strategies which becomes very harmful to their mindset. Maladaptive coping strategies consist of deniel, substance use, and withdrawal protect patients from the reality of the trauma that has been inflicted on them. This can delay or even destroy their progress in their recovery because recovery focuses on dealing with the trauma and the effects that are included.
In order to help students that have had an experience with the act of sexual assault, colleges should incorporate programs such as the RAINN program. Not only does this program have resources for preventing sexual assault, but has many services specifically for victims: RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline, accessible 24/7 by phone (800.656.HOPE) and online (online.rainn.org), operate the DoD Safe Helpline for members of the Department of Defense community who have been affected by sexual assault, offer innovative technology and services for partners in the field, including organizations, universities, and government agencies, staff and volunteers at more than 1,000 local sexual assault service provider partners, [and most importantly] conduct victim-centered, trauma-informed education and response program assessments based on leading research, regulatory guidance, and state and federal laws to evaluate program strengths and weaknesses.
Programs like RAINN provides survivors with an open minded and supporting environment. Being able to incorporate these kinds of programs at college campuses can help many students have an easier recovery and be able to show positive coping skills throughout their progress. Many successful coping strategies that can be shown after being involved in these programs can include intellectual reconstruction, expression of emotion, and wanting to look for support with others through social interaction. These programs can also help decrease many mental disorders such as PTSD symptoms in survivors overtime. (para Ullman; Peter-Hagene 497).
Another program is the comprehensive sexual violence prevention program. This programs purpose tries to reach students before they face that kind of trauma by getting informed on the prevention of sexual assault. The comprehensive sexual violence prevention program helps many college students become informed of new information to prevent sexual assault and also helps them be able to recognize and in a sense, forget or replace the previous knowledge they had on the issue. This program helps students apply what they learned into their own relationships, empower themselves and others in their community, and being able to support others if they experience or have previously experienced an act of sexual assault. This program provides many different aspects that inform students the fine line between right and wrong. For example, a portion of the program is to inform students what the difference between the act of consenting sexual activity and the act of sexual assault. There is an extreme importance for students to know that the definition of consent should be easily understandable, discussible, and be freely practiced. There are many other portions to this program such as explaining healthy relationships, knowing how to take action against sexual violence, employing skilled and trained faciliators for the colleges, etc. ( para Edwards et. al. 50).
With more and more universities incorporating these programs, campuses are becoming more safe for their students. Nonetheless, many colleges do not inform the students about what kind of signs that are shown in a predator. Many rapists are prone to have higher levels of aggression, assault, and verbal and indirect abuse. Many predators have roots that are assoiciated with child abuse, varies from mental, verbal, physical, or sexual. These childhood histories manifest and develop their behaviors. The impact on behavior causes many predators to suffer from traits such as being passive-aggressive. People need to be cautious of strangers that show patterns of staring, showing over friendly actions, inappropriate touching, breaking the personal space barrier, etc. (Sharma). In conclusion, If colleges were to incorporate these programs, many students will feel safer, supported, and inclusive. Policies are important in schools, however, many students will have a greater positive outcome being involved with these programs instead of having new policies reinforced.
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