Sexual Violence on College Campuses

Freedom from sexual assault is a basic human right
a nation’s decency is in
large part measured by how it responds to violence
against women…our
daughters, our sisters, our wives, our mothers,
our grandmothers have every
single right to expect to be
free from violence and sexual abuse.   

Vice President Joe Biden, January 22, 2014 
(Not Alone, The First Report of the White House
Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault)  

  • Sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking are serious problems on college and university campuses in the U.S. and across the world.
In all 50 states, the law says that if you are forced into sex by anyone (boyfriend, husband, intimate partner, teacher, or anyone else)—that is called rape. You have a right to say “No!”

In a 2016 study released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), an average of approximately 21% of undergraduate women across the nine schools participating in the study reported experiencing sexual assault since entering college.

The majority of rape and sexual assault victims reported being victimized by someone they knew.  Non-heterosexual college females reported significantly higher rates than their heterosexual female peers.

Nearly 50% of women report experiencing their first incident of intimate partner violence between 18 and 24 years of age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A highly significant fact to remember, is that most incidents of rape involved the consumption of alcohol or drugs, and were less likely to be reported to campus officials.  Drugs and alcohol impede judgment and the ability to react and think clearly.  In addition, date rape drugs are dropped into alcohol. 

Being a victim of sexual assault, especially rape, can negatively impact a student’s mental and physical health and academic outcomes.   Being a victim of dating violence and intimate partner violence is related to a host of detrimental health and social functioning outcomes, such as academic failure, depression or anxiety, and alcohol and drug abuse. 

In a campus environment, students who are victimized by other students face unique challenges, such as close proximity to perpetrators and difficulty maintaining anonymity. The majority of rape incidents of college students are unreported by victims – in the 2016 BJS study, only 7% reported the incident to a school official. Furthermore, most incidents of rape involve the consumption of alcohol or drugs and are less likely to be reported to campus officials.

(Source:  Protecting Students from Sexual Assault, U.S. Department of Justice, “Not Alone, Together Against Sexual Assault,”, an online resource center supported by the Office on Violence Against Women.; and Krebs, C. P., Lindquist, C. H., Berzofsky, M., Shook-SA,B., Peterson, K., Planty, M., Langon, L., and Stroop, J. (2016). Campus climate survey validation study: Final technical report. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics; and Zinzow, et al. (2011), Krebs, et al. (2016), and Fisher, B. S., Daigle, L. E., Cullen, F. T., & Turner, M. G. (2003). “Reporting sexual victimization to the police and others: Results from a national-level study of college women [external link].” Criminal Justice and Behavior, 30(1), 6-38)  

  • Fraternities and Sororities.  Greek life community members at Penn State University are "four times more likely to be heavy drinkers" and sorority women are "50% more likely" to be "sexually assaulted."  (Penn State president issues threat to fraternities, sororities," CBS News, April 13, 2017) 
What You Can Do

If you are a victim of rape,
  • Immediately after a rape, tell someone where you are going, and go to a safe place.

  • Call or text 9-1-1 if this is an Emergency.

  • Call Spokane’s Crime Check at (509) 456-2233, or find one person you trust, and tell them.

  • Go to the Emergency Room of any hospital as soon as possible, within 48 hours, and request a rape exam.  A specially trained nurse will use a Jane Doe Rape Kit to gather physical evidence of the assault (storing needed samples of hair, body fluids, etc.), as well as photographs.  A number will be placed on the envelope holding the evidence.  Police will not open the envelope unless the victim decides to press charges.  (Federal Violence Against Women Act)

  • File a police report, even if you are not ready to file charges.

  • Call Spokane's Lutheran Social Services Sexual Assault Center 
    24-hour Sexual Assault Crisis Line:  (509) 624-7273            

Local Organizations
Additional Resources
  • The Center for Changing Our Campus Culture: An Online Resource to Address Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking.  (The Center) is supported by the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women in collaboration with its designated Campus Program Technical Assistance Provider Team. The Center has worked collaboratively and sought guidance from experts to provide important resources for colleges and universities on sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.

  •  The National Domestic Violence Hotline    1-800-799-7233