Spike in crime linked to campus rapes

The Jan. 13 to 19 edition of the Coral Gables Gazzette revealed a startling statistic: Violent crimes were up in Coral Gables in 2004 from 2003, resulting from a spike in aggravated assault and especially rapes. Even more disquieting was the response given to the Gazzette by Coral Gables Police Public Information Officer Sgt. Michael Frevola, calling the statistics skewed because almost half of the rapes were in the form of date rapes, and that seven of the 12 rapes that were reported in 2004 occurred at UM.

According to the UM Public Safety crime statistics, the seven rapes are a significant jump from previous years, where there have been from zero to three reported sex offenses. In comparison to the nine reported rapes at the University of Florida, with a student body of undergraduate and graduate students near 50,000-compared to UM’s enrollment of around 15,000-the statistic is also revealing of the severity of the situation.

There are many resources available on campus for those victimized by sexual offenses. The Sexual Assault Response Team [SART] at UM consists of both an advocacy team and the prevention and awareness team.

“The goal of the SART advocacy team is to provide information and emotional support to students regarding matters of sexual assault,” Dr. Carolyn Eberhardt, Counseling Center psychologist, said. “It’s a 24-hour hotline manned by volunteers who have been trained to provide this for UM students.”

SART is especially beneficial for those who wish to remain anonymous, or those who need guidance in deciding how to move forward with responding to the offense.

“SART is an excellent resource to know about because it is 24-7 and because students remain anonymous. There may be a student who wants to talk about this but is not ready to talk face to face,” Dr. Eberhardt said. “They are not asked for any identifying information when they call. A SART advocate can just make the student feel comfortable enough to go in for counseling.”

Where to go for help

– Sexual Assault Response Team (SART)-If you have been sexually battered, assaulted or molested, you can talk to a trained SART volunteer about it, anonymously and from the privacy of your telephone.

– Counseling Center-Students may come and receive counseling regarding matters of sexual assault. While the Counseling Center is confidential, it is not anonymous.

– The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN)-RAINN is the largest anti-sexual assault organization in the nation. RAINN carries out programs to prevent sexual assault, help victims and even helps in the legal aspect of sexual assault cases.

– UM Public Safety-Students who feel immediate danger should call UM Public Safety for assistance. 305-284-6666

A Justice Department report on sexual assaults in college campuses states that most of the sexually assaulted women knew the person who victimized them. It stated that nearly 90 percent of the victims knew the offender, who was usually a classmate, friend, ex-boyfriend or acquaintance.

According to a 1993 national survey done by Carol Bohmer and Andrea Parrot for their study “Sexual Assault on Campus,” nine in 10 acquaintance rapes are not reported. With such a disparity in reported and unreported assaults, it is important for concerned students to know what to do and to be aware of the problem that is sexual assault and rape. Because there is such a prevalent silence that occurs in association with rape, even when it is reported, the community at large isn’t even aware of what had just occurred most of the time.

Regardless of the situation, Dr. Eberhardt emphasized that a variety of resources are available for rape victims and those who simply want further information on sexual assault.

Christian Martinez can be contacted at c.martinez7@umiami.edu.