Reluctance to report presents obstacles

Victims’ reluctance to report sexual assaults presents the greatest obstacles for Campus Safety and Student Development.

Nicole Foy, Writer

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This story is part two of a four-part series about sexual assault on and off Biola’s campus. Part one was published on April 22, 2015.

Not only are Biola’s reported number of sexual assaults low potentially because of gaps in federal Clery regulations, but a national study found that only 20 percent of female college students who experienced an incident of sexual assault reported it to local or campus police.

REPORTING SEXUAL ASSAULT ON CAMPUS

There are several ways to report sexual assault on Biola’s campus, but victims are still unlikely to report at all. Students can report incidents of sexual assault and harassment to Student Development, Campus Safety and other campus authority figures.

Despite these measures to provide students multiple safe avenues to report trauma and assault, some of the reported cases of sexual assault and harassment are dropped because of victim refusal to press charges or provide further identifying information.

“It seems like people either are worried about being judged for breaking contract, or just worried that they will be judged by the community somehow…I know people who have left school because they don’t want to talk about this exact thing occurring,” said Rachel Allan, a senior journalism major.

Allan shared a story of her freshman year struggle to convince a friend, who did not attend Biola, to report a case of sexual battery that allegedly occurred in the Hope Hall parking lot with a student who still attends Biola.

“She was just so inconsolable about the whole thing and definitely didn’t want to talk about it; she just wanted to get away from the whole situation,” Allan said. “But now I kind of regret not reporting it, because he’s still here and he shouldn’t be here.”

FIGHTING FEELINGS OF SHAME

Melanie Taylor, the director of the Biola Counseling Center, said students often feel embarrassed, a sense of self-blame and a fear of community censure after a sexual assault, even if it involved someone they had never met. She emphasized the importance of coming forward after a sexual assault in order to heal, even if that means speaking confidentially to staff at the Biola Counseling Center, the Student Health Center or sexual assault counselors.

“There is something about talking to another person about it that makes it more real, but also more manageable. I think that when we share with somebody these awful hurts, then that can only be helpful,” Taylor said.

Although Campus Safety will investigate any reported case, regardless of where it occurs, and Student Development may choose to pursue separate disciplinary actions against accused individuals, Ojeisekhoba expressed frustration over the times he and his staff were unable convince victims to share information that would allow them to receive help, counseling and justice.

“Yes, if someone knows they have been violated, let someone else deal with the other stuff [breaking contract]. I don’t care, man. I’ll go after whoever the suspect is,” said Ojeisekhoba. “My focus is this alleged crime, this serious stuff that took place that we have to follow up on.”

Ojeisekhoba specifically referenced his staff’s efforts to console and convince a young woman who reported a recent account of sexual battery over the phone, but did not want to identify herself to Campus Safety.

“In a situation like that, what do we do? She doesn’t want to talk to us, so she maybe doesn’t even want to talk to [Student Development]. How do we follow up on it?” Ojeisekhoba said.

The words had barely left his mouth when he was informed by a staff member that the unidentified woman had finally agreed to speak with him. He jumped up immediately, reaching for the phone to contact her.

That night, a new entry was added to the Daily Crime Log for Feb. 19, 2015 — “Sexual Battery, Off Campus.”