Home Dating apps Misconceptions about sexual assault abound in Utah

Misconceptions about sexual assault abound in Utah

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Two women stand while listening to a speaker during the domestic violence awareness vigil in October 2019 hosted by members of Refuge Utah. Refuge Utah is an organization that helps victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and rape. (Lori Jenkins on Refuge Utah’s Facebook page)

Rape is the only violent crime in Utah that has a rate higher than the national average according to the Sexual Violence Health Indicators Information System report based on Public Health Indicators. Other violent crimes in Utah, such as aggravated assault, theft and homicide, are half to three times lower than the national average.

Lori Jenkins, director of sexual assault services at Refuge Utah, said there are misconceptions about sexual assault and rape that affect the way BYU students and women approach real cases of these crimes.

Jenkins said Utah had the 11th highest number of sexual assault and rape cases in the country. However, many people don’t think it could happen to them, their children, their siblings or their friends.

“Happy Valley”

Jenkins said many people think that because Utah doesn’t have more populous cities like New York City, sexual assault or rape won’t happen here in the “Happy Valley.” However, she said statistics for Utah with the 11th highest rate of sexual assault and rape in the country show it can happen anywhere, anytime, including Utah.

According to 2016 statistics on sexual assault among women in Utah, one in three Utah women has been sexually assaulted and one in six women report having been raped.

Jenkins said many Utahns, including BYU students, would use famous dating apps like Mutual, an LDS dating app launched in 2016. A lot of people will sometimes over-trust people on apps, he said. she declared. For example, seeing mission photos or photos of someone with a niece and nephew can cause men and women to be overconfident because these people seem to have the same values ​​as them.

However, dating apps may not be as secure as people think. While people shouldn’t be suspicious of everyone, it might be good to be careful who they trust, Jenkins said.

Additionally, according to Stats of Sexual Assault Among Utah Women, BYU was the campus with the second highest number of reported sexual assaults compared to other Utah schools in 2014, the latest year for which a comparison of university statistics is available. . These included the University of Utah, Salt Lake Community College, Snow College, Utah Valley University, and four other Utah colleges and universities.

Rape and sexual assault are just a ‘women’s problem’

Lisa Leavitt, senior lawyer for BYU’s Sexual Assault Survivors Advocacy Series, said a misconception among people is that sexual assault and rape only happens to women. While the majority of sexual assaults are perpetrated against women, there are men who are also victims of sexual assault and rape.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, nearly a quarter, or 24.8% of men in the United States have experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime.

False declaration

According to Title IX coordinator Tiffany Turley, there is a common misconception that misrepresentation happens more often than it actually is. Turley recently said someone asked him how many reports of sexual assault and rape were false. She said almost none of them were.

Statistics from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center show that the prevalence of false declarations for crimes of sexual assault is quite low. Between 2% and 10% of the reports are in fact false.

“Stranger in the bushes”

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 51.1% of female rape victims reported having been raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% of women reported being raped by an acquaintance. (Kristine Kim)

Leavitt said one of the biggest misconceptions people have is that “the stranger in the bushes is going to jump and attack someone,” but she said that is rarely the case.

About 90% of all sexual assault cases involve someone the victim knows, whether it is someone in their intimate relationship, a family member, a friend or even a co-worker, Leavitt said.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 51.1% of female rape victims reported having been raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% of women reported being raped by an acquaintance.

“If you’re in a relationship and you’re sexually assaulted over and over again, you must have wanted it. ”

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, nearly three in 10 women and one in 10 men in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and / or harassment by a partner.

Leavitt said another common misconception is that those who are in a relationship and are repeatedly sexually assaulted must have wanted it. If anyone is in an abusive relationship, Leavitt said it’s far from a relationship that works normally. Therefore, manipulation and coercion can be normal, leading to the person being repeatedly assaulted in a relationship before they can finally seek help.

According to the National Rape, Abuse and Incest Network, regardless of the term used or how the relationship is defined, no sexual activity should be engaged in without someone’s consent.

Consent and intimate relationships

Jenkins said people mistakenly believed that if the victim did not scream, fight or run away, she was consenting to the rape or sexual assault.

However, most people don’t know that the most natural bodily reaction for people who experience sexual assault or rape, or who face some form of danger, is to freeze, Jenkins said. When a person freezes, their body contracts and they are unable to move, scream, or fight. According to the Washington Post, everyone has a different response when sexually assaulted or raped; however, many people will freeze.

Leavitt said there are many misconceptions and myths about what consent means. Consent, she said, is a mutual agreement between the two parties to do what they are about to do intentionally.

Consent is saying the word yes verbally, and it’s the only way to know if someone is consenting, Jenkins said.

“If it’s anything other than that, it’s not consensual,” Leavitt said.

Blame the victim

“Victim blame is always one thing and probably always will be,” Turley said.

The misconception that women or men are sexually assaulted or raped based on what they wear is common, Jenkins said.

Sexual assault is one of the few crimes where the victim is on trial and people are trying to figure out why and how it is their fault, Jenkins said. “What were you wearing, what time did you go out and drink?” Are all common questions that are asked.

Jenkins said many people tend to blame the victim. She said asking victims what they were wearing and what time they were out makes it seem like it’s their fault, when in reality, it’s never, ever the victim’s fault.

Responsibility must shift to the perpetrators, not the victims

“One of the biggest problems I face is that our society still gives women almost 100% responsibility. for stopping the sexual assault, ”Leavitt said.

Lori Jenkins, director of sexual assault services at Refuge Utah, said perpetrators must be held accountable for their actions. (Kristine Kim)

Responsibility must be shifted to the abusers, not to the women, she said.

Jenkins said perpetrators must be held accountable for their actions.

“We need to blame the culprits and we need to follow up by electing people and supporting people who will hold the culprits accountable,” Jenkins said.

According to the Sexual Violence Health Indicators Report of the Public Health Indicator-Based Information System, the costs resulting from sexual violence in 2011 amounted to nearly $ 5 billion, or nearly $ 1,700. dollars per capita of Utah. The Utah government has spent more than $ 92 million on perpetrators of sexual violence. However, only $ 569,000 was spent on efforts to prevent sexual violence.

Leavitt said there was more to do. “There is a misplaced responsibility, we hold women primarily responsible for protecting themselves from sexual assault.”

Victims can find free resources

There are many resources for people who have been sexually assaulted or raped in Utah and on the BYU campus.

There are free services, Jenkins said, including services at Refuge Utah in Orem. She said the center offers free trauma-based therapy, free groups and free classes. The center also offers free medicines and exams. Jenkins said anyone who goes to the hospital for an exam and receives medication from the doctor in the emergency room receives these services free of charge.

Refuge Utah is providing additional resources, including hotline advocates and volunteers used to assist survivors with medical, physical, psychological and emotional assistance, Jenkins said.

Leavitt said BYU’s sexual assault victim advocacy services were not tied to the Honor Code office or Title IX. She said everything the office does is confidential; no one or nothing is reported to the police. BYU Sexual Assault Survivor Advocacy Services provides multiple resources including help with restraining orders, contacts, letters, police response, and any resources survivors may need.

The office also helps negotiate, Leavitt said. If the survivors need a rape kit or anything at the hospital, there are lawyers who will accompany them there or to the police station. She said if the survivors are BYU students and need to communicate with faculty about any classes or exams they are due to take soon, services will contact faculty for them. Counseling, psychological services, and support groups can also be provided through BYU’s Sexual Assault Survivor Advocacy Services.

Turley said Title IX helps survivors by connecting them to the resources, help and support they need. Title IX also ensures that both parties have the opportunity to tell their side of the story. She also said that Title IX is separate from the Honor Code office. The policy of Title IX says it is to keep everything confidential. There is a confidentiality clause in the university policy which states that all information shared with Title IX on victims or witnesses is kept confidential in his office.

A domestic violence hotline and sexual assault services are also provided by The Refuge Utah.

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