August 25, 2014

Welcome to today’s edition of The V Word.

You can listen to the episode here:

It is time for students to return to college campuses and there has been a lot in the news lately about sexual assault at universities and the ability of school officials to respond appropriately.
Like most survivors of interpersonal crime, I have many stories and one is from college. I broke up with someone and he came to my apartment and assaulted me. I moved into that apartment after we broke up and to my knowledge had not been there. I was wrong, he started a relationship with my roommate by providing her with drugs and talked her into nailing the windows shut in my room one day. That is the day he assaulted me. When he walked into my apartment using a key she had given him, I tried to run to my room to get out a window but they were nailed shut. My neighbors heard me screaming but did not help because they were so used to seeing him there and hearing noise, while he was visiting my roommate. I little recourse with the law because he had a key and my roommate was using drugs and the court linked that to me. Most notable in this scene is that he used my roommate. That is how premeditated it was and he made sure my neighbors were used to him.

My assault on a college campus happened many years ago. While many gains have been made since then, much is still needed. The public, including school officials do not seem to realize how offenders behave. He did this again, to another girl. He escalated his actions, hurting her physically more and adding some very sick behavior. She was a bright premed student and dropped out of school. I transferred because he would not leave me alone and continued stalking me afterward as he only got a restriction to stay 50 feet away from me. Which he did, everyday, everywhere I went.

In their article: Sexual Assault on College Campuses: A Culture of Indifference. Investigative West journalists Carol Smith and Lee van der Voo illustrate a culture of indifference and denial that results in one in five young women being sexually assaulted during their college years. (Note that other sites state that the statistics are one in four). For victims of sexual assault at colleges, Smith and van der Voo found many colleges and universities have unclear and conflicted internal disciplinary systems that not only provide no help to victims of assault but actually can compound their suffering. These fragmented system often result in victims delaying reporting and delay seeking help. Smith and van der Voo found that discipline for the alleged perpetrators was light or nonexistent. This results in students who are assaulted being left to bear the emotional, physical and financial consequences, while those they hold responsible was away.

What can you do?
PACT5 (found at is a national movement to prevent sexual assaults and rapes in colleges. The PACT5 project uses documentary form, produced by students, to create powerful stories. Their goal is to change potentially tragic behavior patterns. they believe that students are the ones who can make a difference in the minds of other students.

If you are sexually assaulted:

  • Get to a safe place away from your perpetrator as soon as possible.
  • Call your local rape crisis center or victim service agency if you would like to obtain an advocate. Advocates may be present during any medical, police, or legal meeting. Advocates can help you navigate the medical and criminal justice systems as well as provide information and support.
  • If you are unsure of local resources, the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network has phone and online hotlines available 24 hours a day | 1-800-656-HOPE
  • Seek medical attention – even if no outward injuries exist, it is recommended that are examined by a medical professional. Forensic exams are done by specially trained nurses in the emergency room and are free for victims of sexual assault. (They do not have to go through the victim’s insurance.) Exams may preserve crucial evidence should you choose to report, though reporting to police is not necessary in order to have an exam completed. You can further preserve evidence by not bathing, washing your hands, eating, or smoking until the forensic exam has been completed.
  • Consider reporting to the police and/or your university.

How can you help?

Get involved with your local rape crisis center to learn more about sexual assault on college universities and get involved with your college to join a group or service that is available or help create one. Many programs for sexual assault on college campuses are located either through the student health center or the judicial services.

For help or information? Here are some options…

If you have been assaulted or your child has been assaulted, call 911. Local rape crisis centers and child advocacy centers have advocates they can send to help support you and provide information.

For information on how to report an assault in the Richmond, Virginia, USA area, you can call the non-emergency line at 804-646-5100 or go by a local police station office. The main Richmond office is located at 200 West Grace Street.

To get a forensic exam to collect evidence and receive medical care, the local hospitals in the Richmond area with Forensic Nurse Examiners are at Medical College of Virginia and St. Mary’s Hospital.

For help with counseling and advocacy, local rape crisis centers, child advocacy centers and domestic violence shelters can provide services. To find a center closest to you… you can call the Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-838-8238. That is the Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-838-8238.

Want to share a story or ask a question? Email me at or tweet me at my twitter account: @preventviolence. You can read the transcript for this show and past shows on my blog at

The V Word is recorded in the studios of WRIR-LP 97.3 and streamed at, read and produced by Carol Olson with production support by Jennifer Gallienne. Music is provided by the Etching Tin.