Taylor’s Story

For my 17th birthday, I celebrated I am alive and wanted to make a difference. I raised $1,724 from my friends and family for PAVE.

December 2012

Dear Mom, dad, aunt, uncle, brother or sister,

The silence was shattered for me September 4, 2009. Just like the Sandusky survivors I, too, cried in silence and lived in fear of someone twice my size and a foot taller would come into my bedroom again during the middle of the night after drinking and molest me. I was just thirteen years of age when he started molesting me. My mother ignored me then abandoned me. Safely, I have been living with my dad ever since I shattered the silence.

I hope you never have to see someone in the bed of an emergency room because they tried to commit suicide. My dad, who protects me, experienced this May 26, 2010 when I tried to commit suicide. My grades had dropped and I was behind in school. My abuser continued to taunt me and my family had to move to protect me.

I am not writing you for pity. Right now, someone cries in silence and lives in fear from an abuser. I am writing you to join me and help others shatter the silence. Today, I am asking you to do something I already did for PAVE.

I met Angela Rose who founded PAVE the spring of 2012 when my friend Robin Sax, board member of PAVE, introduced us. I realized bad things happen to good people. It is what we do with this that matters. I realized we can do nothing or stand up and help others shatter the silence. Angela, a fellow victim, survivor, and advocate; needed more of us victims to join her and help others shatter the silence.
I am standing up to those who abuse, neglect and bully. To do this we need money for PAVE.

For my 17th birthday in July 2012 I celebrated I am alive and wanted to make a difference. I raised $1,724 from my friends and family for PAVE.

I am asking you to join me and donate now and help others shatter the silence.

By the way, I graduated high school more than six months early on November 5, 2012 with a grade point
average over 3.2. Your donation today will help someone like me shatter the silence.

Yours in shattering the silence,
Taylor Simpfenderfer
Bellflower California

PS: PAVE is a 501c3 nonprofit and donations can be sent to PAVE: Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment - PO Box 26354, Alexandria, VA 22313 or CLICK HERE to donate online

When everyone else gives up, find your strength

I went to a very small liberal arts college in Maryland. When I say small, I’m talking under 2,000 students small.  It is the type of school where everybody knows everybody else and you would be hard-pressed to find someone you had never seen before. I can honestly say that during my four years there, I never once didn’t feel safe. It was the type of place where everyone just took care of each other.

I’m not saying that bad things didn’t happen at my school, but when they did it felt like everyone came together. I really believe that every member of my collegiate family, whether students, faculty or staff, cared by each other.

So when I read articles of college students being sexually assaulted by fellow students it always seemed so unfathomable to me.  “That must have happened at a big school,” we would always say. So, when I read a recent article in the New York Times about a sexual assault that happened at another small school, Amhurst College, I couldn’t believe it. Now listen, I’m not naïve enough to think that sexual assault doesn’t happen at every college, even my own alma mater. But what really shocked me to my core was the reaction of the college’s staff and administration.

When the student was ready to seek counseling for her assault, the staff victimized her again. She lived in the same dorm as her attacker, and when she asked to be relocated, she was told she couldn’t move because all of the buildings were full. They also told her that pressing charges would be “useless” as the student was about to graduate. They even asked her if she was “sure she had been raped.”

She could have given up. She could have accepted this as the end of her fight. Instead, this student wrote an article for her school newspaper, telling the story of not only her rape, but her encounter with the school’s staff as well. Her story gave others strength. As the New York Times’ article explains that her article “prompted other Amherst students, past and present, to step forward publicly and say that they, too, had been sexually assaulted here, treated poorly afterward, and in many cases had left campus rather than be around assailants who were allowed to remain.”

While the school’s staff may not have stood behind this victim, the student body did. This small college was outraged at the actions of its staff, and banded together to instill change. With the support of the school’s new president, real change is being made at Amhurst College. While the student no longer attends the school, I can hope that she is proud of the impact she has had there.

This article really hit home with me. It made me proud to go to a school with a staff that was always there for its students, but it also reminded of the power you need to find within yourself. This student could have so easily given up on herself when the staff turned her away. But she didn’t. She found the strength within herself to tell her story. And it changed an entire institution. When everyone else gives up on you, never give up on yourself.

I’m a big fan of quotes, and I think this one really sums up this article:

“My own heroes are the dreamers, those men and women who tried to make the world a better place than when they found it, whether in small ways or great ones. Some succeeded, some failed, most had mixed results… but it’s the effort that’s heroic, as I see it. Win or lost, I admire those who fight the good fight.”  – George R. R. Martin

 

Written by:  Alexandra L.     November 2012

Standing Up For What Is Right

I recently came across an article that bewildered my mind. It actually made me stop and reflect. It made me realize that predators are everywhere; they can even be in our own homes.

A woman was in a relationship with a man. They began having problems and she no longer wanted to be in the relationship; she ended it. He didn’t take it well and wouldn’t leave. Despite all her attempts he continued to affirm the relationship. Then when sex became an issue she declined and he forced it upon her anyway.

Big Mistake!

Simply because you are in a relationship with someone, or because you have had relations with them in the past does not in any way entitle you to do it again. If a person says no, even just once, that’s it! End of story.

This man was charged for rape and sentenced to jail time.

This is a great example of peoples sense of entitlement on those they are in a relationship with. A person’s body is their own temple to do as they want with, it is never at the disposal of another, even if it is ones spouse.

There were many people’s personal opinions brought in on this case too. Many people think that it shouldn’t be a big deal for them to still be intimate but when a person declines that simply means they don’t want to. Why should she do something that she doesn’t want to do, and furthermore why should people judge her for turning him in for it. She is not causing unnecessary problems, he did! It goes back to the ideas that we teach our children; we are in charge of our own actions and we will punished when we make the wrong choices.

Written by: Ashten Meadows

October 2012

RA Dickey Story

As Major League Baseball’s regular season comes to an end, there is one player’s story that really stands out. Robert Allen “R.A.” Dickey, pitcher for the New York Mets, has a truly inspiring story. After being drafted in 1996 by the Texas Rangers, Dickey bounced from team to team with limited success. In 2010, Dickey joined with New York Mets, and broke out this year as the league’s only true knuckleballer winning 20 games in 2012.

Aside from the perseverance and determination he has shown as a pitcher and ball player, R.A. Dickey has survived much more. During his rise to baseball fame in 2012, Dickey also released his autobiography Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knucleball. In this in-depth, personal book, Dickey delves into his personal life and career.

But R.A. Dickey is more than a baseball player. He is a survivor. In his memoir, Dickey divulges two separate incidents of sexual assault suffered during the summer when he was only 8 years old — the first by a 13 year old female babysitter, and the second by a 17 year old male. Statistically speaking, 1 in 6 boys will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18. Of sexually abused children grades five through twelve, 48% of the boys told no one about the abuse.

In a recent article on ESPN.go.com Dickey explains his hope for the book: “One of the hopes I have for the book, and will have as long as it’s out, is that people will be able to draw something from it that may help them — whether it’s to talk about it more, not to be afraid, to be open with what’s happened, and that there are people available that will love you no matter what. I kind of grew up in a place where I didn’t necessarily feel that.”

To read an excerpt from the book, visit sportsillustrated.cnn.com.

Written by: Alexandra L.

September is National Campus Safety Awareness Month!

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September is National Campus Safety Awareness Month!

FREE! CLICK HERE to sign up!

This September, national non-profits Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment (PAVE) and the Clery Center for Security On Campus are partnering with other organizations and institutions for the Safe Campus, Strong Voices campaign, an initiative for National Campus Safety Awareness Month. Safe Campus, Strong Voices engages campus communities in increasing awareness and engagement around campus safety issues such as sexual assault, dating violence, hazing, stalking, and high-risk drinking. It empowers students as bystanders to make changes in their campus environment and encourages victims to seek the support they deserve.

“The first few weeks of college are critical,” says Amy Guthrie, Program Coordinator for the Clery Center. “National Campus Safety Awareness Month is an opportunity to start dialogue about campus safety early in the school year, a time when we typically see an increase in crime.”

PAVE founder Angela Rose travels nationally telling her own survivor story, encouraging students to get involved and find support within their community. “Every time I speak on a college campus, there’s a line of students who want to disclose that they have been affected by sexual assault and most have never reported,” says Rose.

Institutions implementing the Safe Campus, Strong Voices campaign receive resources that help them implement National Campus Safety Awareness Month programming on their campuses. Collaborators such as the Stalking Resource Center, ResponseAbility, the Gordie Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Hollaback!, Stop the Silence, Students Active for Ending Rape, HazingPrevention.org, Break the Cycle, and the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan contributed insight and information to help benefit institutions.

On September 25, 2013, institutions can also participate in a national day of action in which students will make a pact to work to end sexual assault at their institutions. The pact, created through a partnership between the Clery Center and collaborative documentary teams at 5 institutions (Rowan University, Western State Colorado University, Northern Illinois University, Framingham State University, and California State University: Northridge), recognizes the importance of bystanders in preventing sexual violence.

FREE! CLICK HERE to sign up!

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PAVE My Stories: Military Male Survivor Speaks Out – Part One

Coming forward about rape or sexual assault is never easy for a survivor to do after it has happened to them, and in most cases that do or we hear of, are generally females. It is not just because males are less likely to be attacked, but for a male survivor to come forward it seems to be proven more difficult. However, thanks to James Landrith who was an active Military duty U.S Marine, he uses his voice to encourage other male survivors to come forward to come forward a give hope to others. James openly expresses how the  organization RAINN (Rape, Abuse. Incest, National Network) helped his journey to healing and how even being a survivor from a few years, can still bring up bad memories. However, by using techniques he has learned through professional advice, he knows how to overcome those feelings.

“I was drugged and raped by a woman who bought me a few drinks. She used blackmail and coercion to ensure my compliance once the effects of the drugged drinks wore off. I was an active duty U.S. Marine and she was a local civilian. Dealing with the aftermath of sexual violence takes on a different form daily. I never know when or if I will be triggered or by what.” – James Landrith

Unfortunately after being sexually victimized like James has been, survivors struggle to live each day without feeling the urge of suppressed feelings and thoughts about what happened to them. To many survivors just like James, this can cause an unexpected panic and stress attack that alarms/triggers the survivor to the feeling of being unsafe.

“I never know when or if I will be triggered or by what. As I type this now, I have been fighting a week long panic attack and I am unsure of its source. Some days, I don’t even think about it and go on about my business unhindered. However, on other days, it is at the front of my mind and I find myself checking for exits in any room I enter or elevator I ride.” – James Landrith

These feelings can raise so much stress on their body both physically and mentally because their mind goes back to when their encounter was/took place and struggle to come back to reality. However, with an organization as helpful as RAINN is to survivors, they are there to teach and provide information on how to prevent and decrease these types of symptoms as they arise.

“Re-Experiencing: This is a repeated reliving of the event, and interferes with daily activity. This category includes flashbacks, frightening thoughts, recurrent memories or dreams, and physical reactions to situations that remind you of the event.” – RAINN

Many people when they are in a public atmosphere or are surrounded by a crowd of people can suffer from both anxiety or panic attacks but to those who have been sexually assaulted or have been raped, the chances are significantly higher. It is sometimes hard to see straight away when you suffer with these (PTSD symptoms) as a survivor but to properly heal and gain back control of your life the support from others is essential. Having support from an organization like RAINN and other survivors like James, can not only help with the healing process but they can also help provide an understanding on what you (as a survivor) are going through and that all the horrible feelings you may be feeling are normal but as times goes by it will get better.

“There are many programs and organizations available to assist survivors. You can find local centers in your phonebook, or go online to RAINN.org and filter down to a local center. Also, many local governments offer crisis services. When a survivor decides to come forward, even if it is DECADES after the abuse, they may be in crisis mode. When I first decided to confront my own experiences, it felt like it had just happened and I was extremely raw. It might as well have just happened. I was clearly in crisis mode and found some via the local county mental health services.” – James Landrith

When you are at the stage of talking to a professional therapist about your sexual assault or rape, you may feel overwhelmed as that is a normal feeling to have, but if you do not feel comfortable with the person you are talking with then find someone you do feel comfortable talk with. It is essential to always feel safe and comfortable when talking to a professional so it is okay to keep looking for the right person but whatever you do, do not give up on yourself because like what James and other survivors discovered, healing is an individual process and everyone heals in different ways with different people, on their own journey.

“One thing to remember is that a survivor owns their healing and they have the right to turn change therapists or counsellors if they do not feel comfortable or validated. Not every survivor/counsellor pairing is going to be successful. This does not make you a failure at healing; it just means you haven’t found the right partner. Keep trying!” – James Landrith

Please Note:  ”The Department of Defense (DoD) Safe Helpline is a groundbreaking crisis support service for members of the DoD community affected by sexual assault. Safe Helpline provides live, one-on-one advice, support, and information to the worldwide DoD community. The service is anonymous, secure, and available 24/7 — providing victims with the help they need, anytime, anywhere.” – RAINN

Coming Up Next: Part Two of this article will be based on “Private Practice” the February 2, 2012 Storyline in relation to James Landrith’s interview we did with him on his own personal survivor story.

A Wonderful Resource for LGBTQ Survivors from WCSAP

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding sexual violence in the LGBTQ community. The  fact is, the LGBTQ population faces the same forms of sexual violence that the rest of the population does. What’s more, sexual violence is often used as a hate crimes tactic to target the LGBTQ population. These communities also have a harder time reporting sexual violence due to increased barriers like homophobia and the fear of being outed. This is especially true of female identified same sex partners, who are often times not believed when reporting due to the common myth that women cannot be perpetrators of sexual violence.

Here are some helpful stats about sexual violence in the LGBTQ population. I found these statistics on RAINN’s Website (www.RAINN.org)  and from the wonderful publication that I describe below:

Stats:

  • Six percent of all anti-LGBT hate crimes are incidents of sexual assault or forcible rape.
  • More than half of gay men and lesbians report at least one incident of sexual coercion by a same-sex partner.
  • It is often thought that the larger, “butcher” partner will be the assailant in a same-sex assault; however, size or gender identity does not determine who the abusive partner is.
  • Bisexual, transgendered, lesbian, and gay people experience violence within their intimate relationships at about the same rates as heterosexuals (Waldner-Haugrud, 1997; AVP, 1992)
    • 30% of lesbians report having experienced sexual assault or rape by another woman (not necessarily an intimate partner) (Renzetti, 1992)
    • 15% of men living with a male intimate partner report being raped, assaulted or stalked by a male cohabitant (CDC, 1999)
  • LGBT individuals may experience abuse during their childhood. They may be abused by parents or others who are intolerant of homosexuality. They may be targeted for sexual abuse by adults that recognize their “difference.”
  • Over 11% of gay and lesbian youth report being physical attacked by family members (Hetrick-Martin Institute, 1988)
  • 42% of homeless youth, many of whom have run away from home to escape violence, self-­identify as gay/lesbian. (Victim Services, 1991) LGBT persons face additional challenges in healing from childhood sexual assault, due to myths that childhood sexual assault may have “caused” them to be gay.
  • A study of gay, lesbian and bisexual adults showed that 41% reported being a victim of a hate crime after the age of 16. (Herek, 1999) Sexual violence is more common among LGBT hate crimes, assailants may use rape to “punish” victims for what they view as their sexual transgressions.

Because of the particular barriers that the LGBTQ community faces when reporting or talking about their assault, the transition to survivorhood can be even more difficult. It is important that as a community we recognize this difficulty and provide education and resources for LGBTQ survivors and allies to help the healing process. While conducting research for some PAVE educational materials I stumbled upon this wonderful resource, Setting The Stage: Strategies for Supporting LGBTIQ survivors. that was published by the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs that does just that! I encourage you as an individual, advocate, counselor, friend, survivor, social service agency, etc to read through this wonderful publication.

You can download a PDF of the WCSAP’s Setting The Stage: Strategies for Supporting LGBTIQ Survivors by clicking here. Please use this resources to support hte LGBTQ survivors in your life!

PAVE Founder Angela Rose, Sexual Assault Survivor, on A&E’s Bio Channel “I Survived” & Other National Media

Angela on I Survived

Angela Rose, PAVE Founder is a survivor…and thriver. At the age of 17, Angela was abducted at knife point outside a suburban Chicago shopping mall. She was assaulted by a repeat sex-offender on parole for murder-and was eventually released by her attacker. Angela shares her story through her nonprofit PAVE (Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment), across college campuses and on national media including Oprah Winfrey Network, CNN, A&E Bio Channel’s television show I Survived.

FOLLOW ANGELA ON TWITTER: AngelaRosePAVE

Important note: Although Angela’s story was a stranger assault, overwhelmingly sexual assault is committed by someone we know and trust. PAVE works to shatter the silence and prevent ALL sexual violence.


In a stripped-down, simple interview style, I Survived… allows survivors to explain, in their own words, how they overcame unbelievable circumstances-offering insight into what got them through the experience that changed their lives forever.

 

Tune in for an personal account of her experiences and how she is now helping other victims get their voice back. CLICK HERE

CLICK HERE to see Angela Rose on THE LEAD on CNN HLN – Aug 2013

Sexual assault survivor Angela Rose says any time you can shatter the silence about what happened, you reclaim power.

CLICK HERE to see Dr. Drew on CNN Headline News

CLICK HERE to Listen to PAVE Founder Angela Rose on the Geraldo Rivera Radio Show talking about the Castro case – August 2013

CLICK HERE to see “BREAKTHROUGH WOMEN” segment about Angela Rose

CLICK HERE to see Angela Rose on ABC 7 news Chicago.

CLICK HERE to watch the RACE FOR CHANGE on ABC news. April 2013

CLICK HERE to watch PAVE Founder Angela Rose on FOX’s Mike Huckabee Show with celebrity co-host Bethenny Frankel.

CLICK HERE for more info on Angela Rose on Good Day LA.

CLICK HERE to see Angela Rose on Sacramento & Co Morning Show.

CLICK HERE to see Angela Rose on a news broadcast in the Bahamas.

FOLLOW ANGELA ON TWITTER: AngelaRosePAVE

FREE resources for Sexual Assault Awareness month:

http://www.pavingtheway.net/wordpress/saam

 

Interested in a Fabulous Volunteer Opportunity? Join PAVE’s Board of Directors!

Pave logo with sloganPAVE  is looking for committed, energetic members who want to serve on our Board of Directors. It is an excellent chance for experienced, dedicated individuals to be part of shaping the future of our organization.

Service on our Board of Directors offers a tremendous opportunity to help mold our programs and strategies, the impact of which will be felt for many years.  Both experienced and first time board members are welcome. While we would certainly welcome individuals with great connections and/or professional skills, a PASSION for sexual and dating violence prevention is absolutely critical. Previous experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, violence prevention or intervention or is highly desired.

If you are interested in becoming a PAVE BOD member, please submit a letter of introduction and your resume to amanda@ShatteringTheSilence.org.

A PAVE Board Member:

  1. Demonstrates an interest in and personal commitment to PAVE’s vision, mission and values.
  2. Exercises duty of loyalty and due care in the management of PAVE’s fiscal affairs.
  3. Serves as an ambassador, building relationships with potential supporters and donors in the community.
  4. Attends all bi-monthly board meetings, board committee meetings, and required special events.
  5. Makes a personal financial contribution at a level that is meaningful to them.
  6. Actively participates in one or more fundraising activities.
  7. Acts in the best interests of the organization, and excuses themselves from discussions and votes where they have a conflict of interest.
  8. Stays informed about what’s going on in the organization. They will ask questions and request information. They will participate in and take responsibility for making decisions on issues, policies and other board matters, especially financial matters.
  9. Works in good faith and communicate openly and honestly with staff and other board members as partners towards achievement of our goals.
  10. Maintains roles and responsibilities with a high level of accountability and intentionality.
  11. Makes a commitment to serve as a PAVE Board Member for a minimum of two years.
  12. Adheres to and upholds the values of feminism and anti violence.
  13. Adheres to the responsibilities for the board of directors as required by the Illinois Not For Profit Corporation Act of 1986 (805 ILCS 105 – attached).
  14. Insures that PAVE functions in compliance with all relevant state and federal laws.

 

Mandatory Reporting Challenges on a College Campus

The other day, over lunch, prompted by an in inevitable conversation about the recent tragedy at Penn State, a colleague lamented their own experiences as a mandatory reporter of sexual assault. The discussion began as we were flushing out possible scenarios with the Penn State case, hoping that perhaps the lack of reporting on behalf of Coach Paterno et al was a lapse of administrative training rather than pure moral abomination. My colleague expressed some sympathies with those encountered by reports of sexual violence and that a similar encounter had left them questioning the efficacy of the current mandatory reporting protocol.

My colleague works at a small liberal arts college in a position that manages student workers. The college requires that all student employees take an hour-long online sexual harassment training, which they administer twice a year. My colleague emailed a notice to their student staff that each of them would have to take this training. In response to the email, a student requested that they be exempt from the training because they had recently experienced a sexual assault and also had a major assignment due the day after the training and did not want to be “re-triggered and stressed out by having to spend an hour thinking about sexual violence.” The student requested anonymity and mentioned that she intentionally did not report the crime to the Student Judicial Board (my colleague made assumption that assault must have been committed by another student because Judicial Board would have been standard course of action).

After getting this information, my colleague was unsure of what the necessary protocol was for reporting. They know they are a mandatory reporter, but were not sure that this fell under the realm of things necessary to report, especially since anonymity was requested and the student was not seeking help. The information they received regarding the assault was extremely limited and the disclosure of the event was not intentional, but rather reactionary – prompted not out of a request for help, but rather to avoid being re-triggered. It is important to note here, that although my colleague is a mandatory reporter, they have had no training on mandatory reporting from the institution they are currently working for. Fortunately they worked in Student Life for another higher education institution where they did receive some training, namely to report up.

My colleague took two steps. She reported the incident to her direct superior and asked if further action was necessary. They said no, no action was necessary because the student asked to remain anonymous. At the same time, however, the staff member e-mailed the schools HR department to see if the student’s request for a training exemption could be honored. My colleague explained the situation to HR in full, however omitting the students identifying details. The HR director responded to her email almost immediately saying that they could definitely accommodate the student and telling my colleague that they needed to report the assault if they had not already done so. My colleague called the HR director at this time and let them know the opposing information they had received from their immediate superior. The HR director admitted that they were, in fact, not positive that they needed to report and suggested they contact the Assistant Dean of Students to give the final decision. After a meeting where the student’s anonymity remained intact, the decision was reached that standard mandatory reporting protocol must take place, and that my colleague should file a paper report and send it up the chain of command.

This would mean that the students anonymity would no longer be intact as a paper report (which requires a name) would have to be filtered through six additional people before it eventually would get back to the Assistant Dean Of Students (who they had just met with and was already briefed on the incident). This was the first time my colleague found out that they would have to file an actual paper report, previously they thought a simple verbal exchange was all that was required. Additionally, they found the report rather confusing and somewhat futile. The definitive categories on the report were misleading and seemingly redundant. Also, the only information my colleague had was limited which meant that the bulk of the report remained blank.

After the report was filed and sent up the chain of command, my colleague was urged to reach out to the student, give her a packet of information on resources and encourage her to report and seek support. My colleague was asked to get the student to fill out a threat assessment with campus security even if she did not want to report in an effort to protect other students. The packet of information and resources seemed particularly helpful and full of information my colleague wished they had known previously so that they could have given the student more helpful information when she first confided in them.

The student didn’t respond to the staff member for several days, even though my colleague had seen her at work and on campus a few times since sending the follow-up email and information. The student responded by thanking them for their concern but said she was doing fine and did not address answering the threat assessment or reporting. My colleague, the staff member, sent the student response back to campus safety and the dean’s office. To date, that is where the case has ended. This case is about a month old, and the above proceedings took place over the course of 8 days from the student confiding in my colleague to her response going to campus safety.

This incident left a very sour taste in my colleague’s mouth, who highlighted several challenges and take homes to reporting on their campus:

-          Staff felt really bad about having to “pressure” the student to report.

-          Staff was unsure of how much to encourage the student to report and did not appreciate higher up administrators asking them to pressure the student as they did want to disrespect the student by pushing her to do something she was uncomfortable with.

-          Staff did not want to breach the confidentiality of the student but wanted to provide the best support possible.

-          Staff had lack of training. Even though they are a mandatory reporter, they only received an hour long on-line sexual harassment training but never had a Cleary reporting training or any specific training about mandatory reporting with student employees or about someone who approaches you but is not trying to report.

-          Staff found the paper Cleary Report misleading and misrepresentative.

-          Staff learned that only health and counseling professionals do not have to report

-          Staff disappointed that higher up staff and supervisors were also unclear about the reporting process and could not provide proper guidance.

-          Staff wanted to be able to report without sharing the students’ name

In the end this incident enlightened my colleague’s superiors and HR administrators to the fact that their staff lacked sufficient training and that changes need to be made with the overall reporting system. However, the student victim did not receive the anonymity she requested, which might have felt like a violation to her. This incident is by no means a singular occurrence.  This and similar situations have been seen time and time again at universities across the country. Higher education staff members are under-equipped to handle sexual violence on their campuses. This is a HUGE problem. College women experience one of the highest risks of sexual violence of any demographic. One in four college women will be assaulted during their time. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 20.4 million students are enrolled in US colleges. If we give a rough estimate that half of these students are female (and this is generous because enrollment tips more heavily towards the female persuasion) then this means that 2.55 million women will be assaulted during their time in college. This is an epidemic and we need to treat it as such. Who is going to be there to support these two and a half million women?

The egregious handling of the Penn State sexual assaults by all parties, although very different from most sexual assaults that happen on our nations campuses, has started conversations about our role in reporting and intervening from the white house to casual luncheons between friends. We need to continue this conversation and keep highlighting the epidemic of sexual violence in our society. Bottom line: Our higher education administrators need training and they need it now. A national effort needs to be made. We need to address this issue from both sides. We need more prevention work on our campuses and we need to encourage our students to demand these types of services on their campuses.