Karina Barriga Albring
Blurry images and a smell of tobacco and lime are what a college student can recall from last night’s party. Her body aches and so does her soul. A couple of spirits and crazy dance moves cannot be the cause of this deep soreness. All of a sudden, dreadful memories come to her. Nothing makes sense anymore. She thought she was with someone she trusted. She thought she was loved.
This semester three sex offenses were reported in Keene, N.H. According to College Liaison Officer Katie Corbett, one was reported at Keene State College, specifically in Huntress Hall.
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The numbers have dropped compared to 2011 when four sex offenses were reported inside the campus, according to the Campus Safety Campus Crime and Fire Safety report.
This statistic may be far from the reality, however. Amanda Warman, director of Campus Safety stated, “Sexual assault is the most under reported crime in the country. I have no doubt that it is under reported on campus.”
Officer Corbett agreed that most cases of sex crime go unknown because “the victims are embarrassed or might feel guilty.”
Forrest Seymour, coordinator of sexual violence prevention and education at the Counseling Center, expressed his department has received more than one report.
Seymour said “several students report this type of behavior every semester.”
He said, “Confidentiality is so important that we don’t tally the number of sexual assaults that we get information about.”
Seymour explained when the crimes are reported to the Counseling Center, “Nothing else happens, unless the victim wants to continue with other actions.”
According to a study done by the U.S. department of Justice, about one in four college women and 15 percent of college men are victims of forced sex during their time in college.
Another study states that only five to ten percent of American women who are sexually assaulted report it.
Seymour said there are several reasons why students might not report these crimes. “People feel they are going to be thought of as being morally bad if someone learns that they were sexually assaulted.”
For Warman, a crucial factor for not reporting an assault is the involvement of alcohol. She said students may be scared of being charged for underage drinking.
Warman said she believes alcohol is involved “probably in 90 percent of the cases of sexual offenses in college campuses.”
Campus Safety, however, encourages students to report a sex offense in any situation.
The KSC Sexual Misconduct Policy states, “When conducting an investigation of an alleged sexual assault, the college’s focus will be on addressing the sexual assault and not on lesser policy violations.”
Officer Corbett said “sometimes they [students] are not aware of what actions are considered a sexual offense.”
Amanda Warman stated, “Sometimes they [victims] say ‘Oh, he just touched me’, but that can be sex assault.”
In some cases, exposure of body parts can be classified as sex offenses.
Resident Assistant Daniel DeRoehn recalled an incident that occurred this semester outside the Owl’s Nests 2 and 3. “There was a gentleman who was sitting below windows and masturbating,” he said.
DeRoehn said he has not received any other reports about sex offenses on campus.
Corbett expressed, “A sex offense can range from touching a private part all the way to forcible penetration.”
Nicky Kondash, a KSC senior and member of the organization Mentors for Violence Prevention, said a sex offense occurs any time “a person makes another one feel insecure in a sexual manner.”
KSC Sexual Misconduct Policy includes “intimate partner sexual assault” as a sex offense.
Officer Corbett referred to this statement. “From my experience working in a college, what happens usually is that they meet up with a boy or a girl that they have been seeing, the partner doesn’t listen, and things end up going further than expected.”
Amanda Warman and Forrest Seymour agreed most sexual assaults are committed by people who know each other. Warman said, “around 95 percent of the time.”
The New Hampshire State Police website indicates there are 24 registered sex offenders in Keene.
Eleven sex offenders reside within a mile of the Keene State College campus.
Eight of these were charged for felonious sexual assault, “which involves sexual penetration of a person between the ages of 13 and 16 when the age difference between the actor and the other person is four years or more,” according to NH law.
Seymour expressed, “It is good to be aware, but statistically speaking, if a college student is going to be sexually assaulted, it is probably going to be by another college student, someone their age.”
Seymour mentioned society has “created this scary image of a man who is going to jump out of the bushes and rape our children. That happens, but not usually.”
Research done by UMass-Boston expert Dr. David Lansik refers to sex offenders in college campuses as “undetected rapists.”
In order to prevent sex crimes, Keene State College puts on several programs.
Every semester Campus Safety offers “Rape Aggression Defense” for women, a self defense class about awareness and prevention, and “Resisting Aggression with Defense” for men, a course that intends to fight myths about men’s responses to women and to violence.
The Counseling Center also organizes “No Zebras, No Excuses,” an orientation program that educates students to be active by standards and report crimes.
Nicky Kondash explained, “There are also many resources for people that have experienced sexual assault.” She said Mentors for Violence Prevention and the Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention offer services for victims.
For Kondash, “No one deserves to be assaulted or harassed, but specially, no one deserves to deal with it alone.” She said, “It is never the victim’s fault.”
One KSC student, who wished to remain anonymous, said she was sexually assaulted years ago. “I realized after time that I needed help. I was torturing myself with horrible memories. I can’t imagine how my life would be if I didn’t look for help.”
The student encouraged other sexual assault victims to report the crime. She said it is very difficult to share this type of experiences, “It might seem scary to look for help, but in the end, it is worth it.”
The student concluded, “Reporting sexual assault is a way to prevent it from happening again. If victims don’t report it, then we cannot educate the community and it will keep happening.”
Seymour said that even if victims don’t want to report an incident to the police, “having someone they can go to and talk makes a difference.”
Even though the New Hampshire State Police report there are 11 sex offenders living around KSC, regarding sexual violence in campus, sometimes the old saying may apply, “The ones we love most are ones who can hurt us most.”
To read more about sex offenses see the Equinox’s editorial on page A4.
Karina Barriga Albring can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org