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Sexual Assault Victims Don't Report to Cops

IOWA CITY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -- The University of Iowa received a report on Monday that a female student was sexually assaulted at an off-campus fraternity house on November 9, but has chosen not to report the assault to police.

This is the second sexual assault in a month that a UI student victim has chosen not to have investigated by police.

When it comes to reporting these crimes to law enforcement, UI Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator Monique DiCarlo said, it's all about what helps the victim heal.

"It's a very private experience. It's something that they're still making sense of, they're still trying to understand how it could have happened to them, what happened to them," said DiCarlo.

Victims may have a variety of reasons for not reporting; some want to focus on moving on, others might be afraid of isolation or retaliation, DiCarlo said.

The bottom line: victims aren't in charge of saving the world, Rape Victim Advocacy Program assistant director Karen Siler said.

"And they're not responsible for what (their offender) chose to do. And if that (offender) chooses to hurt someone else again, that's not the victim's fault for not reporting it or coming forward," Siler said.

Only about 40 percent of callers to the Iowa Crisis Line who reported sexual assault to a counselor or volunteer also reported that assault to law enforcement, Siler said.

"Sexual assault and abuse is a traumatic event, and we all respond to trauma in a different way," she said. "We are here for those who want to talk."

As far as preventing assault goes, DiCarlo said, bystanders can do a lot.

"For those of us who hear unwanted comments or hurtful comments being made, interrupting those things, that's where we have an opportunity to really prevent behavior," DiCarlo said.

If a bystander sees someone being pressured to drink or make unwanted physical contact, that person should step in and say something -- or call 911.

For more information on the Office of Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator and a variety of UI campus resources, visit osmrc.uiowa.edu.

For more information on the Rape Victim Advocacy Program and a variety of community resources, visit rvap.org.

Call the Iowa Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-284-7821.
 
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