Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Rape survivors urged to speak up

July 30, 2001

The MSU Department of Police and Public Safety is trying to encourage survivors of rape to report the crime.

MSU police Chief Bruce Benson said survivors of sexual assault cases are overwhelmingly reluctant to come forward.

“The numbers don’t vary a lot,” he said. “About 10 a year are reported.”

Of those reported, many are acquaintance rapes. These assaults involve someone the person knows.

“It is pretty rare that someone is assaulted while they are walking down the sidewalk,” he said.

In 1999, six incidents were reported at MSU and five of the incidents were instigated by someone the victim knew. The number of assaults reported increased in 2000 to nine.

Recent increased reports of sexual assaults have been noticed by law agencies.

Lansing had 89 reported rapes through June 30. The year before, only 60 were reported by that date.

Lansing police Lt. Ray Hall said the department has been aggressive about getting the message about date rapes to the public.

“Different agencies such as the Listening Ear (Crisis Intervention Center) and the MSU (Sexual Assault Program) Crisis Line, all of these agencies have been doing a good job about getting the message out and encouraging survivors of date rape to come forth,” he said.

Survivors, Hall said, need to realize it is not their fault.

“It is their body and if you go beyond those limits, it is a felony and every year we send young men who went beyond those limits to prison,” he said. “The justice system takes it serious.”

Benson said it is a common myth on campus that it is unsafe for students to walk down the bike trail behind Holmes, McDonel and Owen Graduate halls. Benson said it is commonly referred to as the “rape trail,” even though no rapes have been reported there in 20 years.

“People should be cautious,” he said. “It is rare that problems take place at MSU; the problems take place where bad judgment is involved.”

Social gatherings involving alcohol and drugs, Benson said, are the factors which lead to bad judgment.

Alyssa Baumann, center coordinator for the Listening Ear, 1017 E. Grand River Ave., said stereotypical gender roles introduced at a young age play a role in these incidents.

“Guys are brought up to believe that if he takes a girl out to dinner, she is suppose to have sex with him,” Baumann said.

The Listening Ear, she said, offers 24-hour-a-day counselors who are available every day of the year, including holidays.

“We do face-to-face, one-on-one concealing, we do advocacy,” she said.

Baumann said the center’s counselors can assist survivors with medical and legal matters.

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