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College Women’s Perceived Barriers to Reporting Sexual Assault Rebecca Caldwell Director of CROSSROADS and CARE Nathan Lindsay Director of Student Life.

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Presentation on theme: "College Women’s Perceived Barriers to Reporting Sexual Assault Rebecca Caldwell Director of CROSSROADS and CARE Nathan Lindsay Director of Student Life."— Presentation transcript:

1 College Women’s Perceived Barriers to Reporting Sexual Assault Rebecca Caldwell Director of CROSSROADS and CARE Nathan Lindsay Director of Student Life Assessment NASPA Annual Conference March 15, 2010

2 Learning Outcomes As a result of attending this session, participants will: Learn to use a mixed methods approach to investigate a sensitive topic—in this case, sexual assault. Consider the factors that inhibit current college women from pursuing charges related to sexual assault, as indicated from both the research literature and the findings of this study. Consider how assessment can illuminate the campus-specific factors that impede students from using on and off-campus avenues for redress of sexual assault cases. Learn how the campus-specific factors were shared across the university, and the resulting action steps.

3 I think that students are more likely to report a sexual assault to campus hearing officers than they were 30 years ago. 1. Strongly Agree 2. Agree 3. Neither Agree nor Disagree 4. Disagree 5. Strongly Disagree 6. Don’t Know/Not Applicable

4 I think that students are more likely to report a sexual assault to police than they were 30 years ago. 1. Strongly Agree 2. Agree 3. Neither Agree nor Disagree 4. Disagree 5. Strongly Disagree 6. Don’t Know/Not Applicable

5 Our campus does a good job of helping students to feel comfortable in reporting a sexual assault. 1. Strongly Agree 2. Agree 3. Neither Agree nor Disagree 4. Disagree 5. Strongly Disagree 6. Don’t Know/Not Applicable

6 What is the most important thing campuses can do to encourage students to report sexual assaults? 1. Better educational programming 2. Hire a victim advocate 3. Reassure students that there is confidentiality in the judicial process 4. Increase punishments for offenders 5. Other

7 Introduction Sexual assault is a highly underreported crime. Up to 25% of women will experience an attempted or completed sexual assault. Fewer than 5% will report that assault to police. A year-long investigation by the Center for Public Integrity criticizes campus discipline. Campuses need to know about assaults to arrest perpetrators, to insure that victims know about services, and for planning and policy decisions. (Catalano, 2006,Ruch, Coyne, & Perrone, 2000, Fisher et al., 2003)

8 What was the impact of the Center for Public Integrity report on your work? 1. Interest among campus administrators 2. Frustration at characterization of campuses 3. Feeling pretty good about your campus 4. Thinking “we have a lot of work to do!” 5. Wanting more information and resources 6. Don’t Know/Not Applicable

9 Literature Review Significant factors in not reporting sexual assaults by college women include: ▫ Lack of confidentiality ▫ Guilt & self-blame ▫ Embarrassment & shame ▫ Fear of not being believed ▫ Fear of retaliation ▫ Fear of being blamed or judged ▫ Confusion over what constitutes sexual assault ▫ Desire to not cause significant consequences to an acquaintance by labeling him a “rapist’ ▫ Negative reaction to first disclosure, usually a friend (Fisher et al., 2000, Nasta et al., 2005, Fisher et al., 2003, Sable et al., 2006, Walsh et al., 2010, Orchowski, Meyer, & Gidycz, 2010, Ahern, 2006, Filipas & Ullman, 2001, Koss et al., 1987)

10 Methodology The study consisted of three main parts: Part 1 A review of the campus sexual assault policy through a self-study guide Part 2 A series of questions were included in a biannual campus violence survey Part 3 Focus groups were conducted

11 Part I: Policy Self-Study/Review Committee of students convened/guided by Women’s Studies & Resource Center Completed SAFER student review of campus policies and resources process. A diverse group of students independently found the information and made conclusions. Campus personnel reviewed it for accuracy before posting. Other Sources for Review: Model Policies, ACHA Assessment Tool, tabletop exercises.

12 Student Self-Study Recommendations Awareness of policy needs to be increased among students. Although discussion of past sexual history is barred at hearings, victim’s dress is also suggested. An amnesty policy should be considered, i.e.,victims immune to being held accountable for other policy violations (such as alcohol consumption).

13 Do you have an amnesty policy for sexual assault victims? 1. Yes, a written policy 2. We use amnesty as an informal practice 3. No 4. Don’t Know/Not Applicable

14 Part II: Quantitative Data Collection Specific questions about perceptions of services were added to a biannual violence survey. Survey was molded by the suggestions of a group of students, faculty, & staff. Used recognizable validated instruments for credibility and national comparison (when available)

15 Do you have campus quantitative data about interpersonal violence/violence against women issues? 1. Yes, a homegrown measure 2. Yes, a validated instrument 3. Limited data from other surveys (e.g., NCHA survey) 4. No 5. Don’t Know/Not Applicable

16 Focal Items Awareness of services Feeling competent to refer to resources Measurement of bystander behaviors Experiences of sexual assault, relationship abuse, stalking, and harassment Opinions about campus and criminal justice systems

17 Awareness of Resources “If a student is a victim of sexual assault, what resources are available to them?”

18 Quantitative Results In response to whether or not students would feel comfortable reporting a case of sexual assault to: ◦ The campus conduct system  45% reported being comfortable or very comfortable  28% reported neutral feelings  27% reported being uncomfortable or very uncomfortable ◦ The criminal justice system  73% reported being comfortable or very comfortable  16% reported neutral feelings  11% reported being uncomfortable or very uncomfortable

19 Quantitative Results What do you think should be the consequences for students found responsible for sexual assault: ◦ In the campus conduct system  80% expulsion  43% suspension  50% disciplinary probation ◦ The criminal justice system  52% 1 – 5 years in prison  17% 6 – 10 years in prison  13% more than 10 years in prison  11% probation  6% community service *Each question asked students to mark all that apply

20 What would prevent you from using the campus conduct system? Afraid other students would find out/confidentiality “Embarrassment”/Shame/Fear Fear of retaliation Too serious a crime for campus system/only criminal courts can give proper punishment Lack of knowledge about campus system Lack of confidence that system is effective

21 What would prevent you from using the criminal justice system? Fear of retaliation “Embarrassment”/Shame/Fear Afraid others would find out/confidentiality Lack of knowledge about the system Lack of confidence that system is effective

22 Sexual Assault: Since you were 14 years old, have you been the victim of an attempted sexual assault by:

23 Sexual Assault: Since you were 14 years old, have you been the victim of a sexual assault by:

24 Part 3: Focus Groups Focus group design, 3 focus groups, n=18 Convenience sample recruitment via Vignette about sexual assault scenario, followed by general questions about campus perceptions Facilitator and note taker present Debriefed misinformation

25 Data Analysis Green et al. (2007) four step process of inductive data analysis: immersion in the data, coding, creating categories, and the identification of themes. Three types of triangulation: co-facilitator review, audience review, and triangulation with other data sources.

26 Results/Conclusions Themes: ▫ Confidentiality ▫ Fear of getting in trouble ▫ Legitimacy of campus discipline system ▫ Misunderstanding of Clery Act timely notifications ▫ Fear of judgment and rape myths (alcohol use, alone with perpetrator, he said/she said)

27 Theme: Confidentiality I feel like it might be easier for students to find out about it and that kind of puts you in an awkward place. a pro is reporting it to a community…you might feel safer but at the same time it is a double edged sword because it’s a community, therefore, people are going to find out about it… It just makes it more difficult because people talk…it’s not an incredibly large campus and so word spreads quickly so…whether or not they try to keep it behind closed doors…it can get out someone.

28 Confidentiality Viewed as: ◦ Peer confidentiality ◦ Peer “rumor mill” ◦ Lack of compartmentalization by university administrators  Known as a victim by administration  Information “leaking” into other leadership areas

29 Theme: Fear of Getting in Trouble Like with respect…I mean I’ve heard people say that I don’t want to tell on campus or use the judicial system because I don’t want to get in trouble…yeah, like what I went through is worse but I don’t want there to have to be consequences for me as well. And she might be scared that the people who got her the drinks with the fake ID that she’s going to get them in trouble. I think going off campus, it might alleviate the fear of them getting put on probation for, you know, underage drinking in a residence hall or something like that. More confidentiality for her part...the things that violate the code of student life.

30 Theme: Legitimacy It’s unfortunate but I think people take the off-campus police more seriously than the on-campus police. So, they might be more intimidated to go off-campus where they think its quote “real”…the real world and something not affiliated with the university. I think there is only so much that the campus can do and this is kind of something really serious. You know, this is a rape case that we’re talking about and I mean, yeah it happened on campus and they can take their procedures as far as needs be as far as the guy staying in school and stuff but as far as getting this handled as a case and him being convicted of this, it probably sounds like a job for the [local police].

31 Legitimacy Comments about legitimacy included: Serious crimes should be handled by external agencies Negative associations with campus judicial process from previous conduct issues Misinformation about campus conduct process Lack of trust/respect for campus police Participants expected positive outcomes of criminal justice process.

32 Theme: Confusion about Timely Notifications Campus-specific theme after two timely notifications about sexual assault were rescinded. Sense that the location information compromised confidentiality.

33 Theme: Fear of Judgment/Rape Myths Or just having to explain yourself period. You know, like she said, it’s a tough situation, you don’t want to relive it, but, I mean, you know what you did and what you didn’t do and how it goes but there are those people on the outside who want to be nosy or for whatever reason want to make you sit there and explain yourself, like “why did you go to his room?” Well, not that its any of your business, but I wanted pizza. (group laughter) You know?

34 Rape Myths Victim’s use of alcohol Victim alone with perpetrator Making “too big a deal” of assault Lack of a verbal “no” “He said/She said” can’t be proven Victim’s responsibilities to set boundaries

35 Results/Conclusions ▫ There are a combination of campus-specific and cultural and development factors that act as barriers to using the campus disciplinary system and the criminal justice process. ▫ Mixed method studies with the student body can provide insight into attitudes and issues around this issue. ▫ Question: What other barriers do you think exist for your campus?

36 Sharing with Stakeholders Campus Relationship Violence-Sexual Assault Response Team Coordinated Community Response Team- larger steering committee on violence against women issues Chancellor’s Safety and Security Council Discussions with campus police and conduct officers

37 Campus Responses Issue RaisedCampus Response Fear of personal conduct outcomesAddress in new student orientation program Fear of negative peer appraisalEducational campaign for female target audience Questions about costs associated with examinations Changes in policy language, educational efforts with new students Lack of information about the processes “Just in time” information availability, purposeful messages in educational programs

38 Campus Responses Issue RaisedCampus Response Fear of campus conduct/negative associations with campus system Option to meet with conduct officer to hear about system, police and conduct officers willing to come to victim advocacy office Confusion about timely notificationsEducation of key student contacts, discussion with campus police about effects, examination of message content Fear of retaliationAdd protection from retaliation to educational descriptions of campus process, campus orders of no contact

39 References Bachman, R. (1998). The factors related to rape reporting behavior and arrest. Criminal Justice Behaviors, 25, Catalano, S.M. (2006). Criminal Victimization, 2005 (NCJ214644, U.D. Department of Justice). Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice. Filipas, H.H., & Ullman, S.E. (2001). Social reactions to sexual assault victims from various support services. Violence and Victims, 16, Fisher, B., Cullen, C., & Turner, M. (2000). The sexual victimization of college women. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice & Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice. Fisher, B.S., Daigle, L.E., Cullen, F.T., & Turner, M.G. (2003). Reported sexual victimization to the police and others: Results from a national-level study of college women. Criminal Justice & Behavior, 30, 6-38.

40 References (cont.) Koss, M.P., Gidycz, C.A., & Wisniewski, N. (1987). The scope of rape: Incidence and prevalence of sexual aggression and victimization in a national sample of higher education students. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 55, Lomardi, K. (2010, February 24). A Lack of Consequences for Sexual Assault. Retrieved from: Nasta, A., Shah, B., Brahmanandam, S., Richman, K., Wittels, K., Allsworth, J., & Boardman, L. (2005). Sexual victimization: Incidence, knowledge, and resource use among a population of college women. Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, 18, Orchowski, L.M., Meyer, D.H., & Gidycz, C.A. (2010). College women’s likelihood to report unwanted sexual experiences to campus agencies: trends and correlates. Journal of Agression, Maltreatment, & Trauma, 18(8), Ruch, L.R., Coyne, B.J., & Perrone, P.A. (2000). Reporting sexual assault to the police in Hawaii (NCJ188264, National Criminal Justice Reference Service). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice. Tjaden, P., & Thoennes, N. (2000). The Full Report on the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice and Centers for Disease Control.


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