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Rape on Campus - Unspoken Peer Pressure Often Keeps Campus Rape Victims Silent

Rape Accusations Put Friendships at Risk in a Close-Knit Campus Community

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But the biggest hurdle faced by a student who reports a sexual assault has to do with peer pressure and the need to maintain a social life within a close-knit community. Rape on campus isn't anonymous. In 9 out of 10 college rapes/attempted rapes, the victim knows her rapist.

When Speaking Up is a "Problem"

An accusation of rape can strain relationships within groups that exist in dorms, sororities, and sports teams. Female students rely heavily on friends for advice and support. By speaking up about rape, students risk jeopardizing those all-important friendships which are crucial to college life.

One student's experience, included in the "Sexual Assault on Campus" report, makes this all too clear:

"If they do go forward and make a report, do they lose that group because of the so-called problems they are creating?" says Roberta Gibbons, a victim's advocate...[at] the University of Minnesota...."Or are they going ta split that group?"

When Christine Carter met this dilemma as a transfer student at Towson University in Baltimore, she chose to tell the group that a newcomer — a friend of a friend — had reached into her pants while she was sleeping. To her utter mortification, they laughed and said she must have imagined it.

"I was the butt of my friends' jokes," said Carter. "Before we'd go out, my friends would say, ‘Oh Christine, don't drink too much. You'll sexually assault yourself.'"

They stopped laughing at her only when the same man did it again...to another friend in the group.

Sources:

"Date Rape Drugs." About.com Teen Advice. Retrieved 9 December 2009.

Dickinson, Amy. "Rape Question a Matter of Consent." Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune. 27 November 2009.

Fischer, Bonnie S. and Francis T. Cullen, Michael G. Turner. "The Sexual Victimization of College Women." National Institute of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics at U.S. Department of Justice. December 2000.

Jones, Kristin. "Barriers Curb Reporting on Campus Sexual Assault (Second in a Series)." Sexual Assault on Campus at The Center for Public Integrity. 2 December 2009.

Lombardi, Kristen. Sexual Assault on Campus Shrouded in Secrecy (First in a Series)" Sexual Assault on Campus at The Center for Public Integrity. 1 December 2009.

"Rohypnol Fact Sheet." About.com Teen Advice. Retrieved 9 December 2009.

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