Jan. 20, 1994
Vol. 13, No. 10

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    Sexual assault: Reporting crime only way to stop offender

    Although quick community response has in many instances helped police solve personal and property crimes in Hyde Park this year, one type of crime often does not get reported at all -- the crime of sexual assault. Victims of sexual assault are often reluctant to report the crime, or the report is delayed, according to Martina Munsters, Associate Dean of Students in the University.

    "Although women have been more willing to report sexual assaults in recent years, many women still are reluctant to file a police report, particularly in the incidence of acquaintance rape," Munsters said. "Women may confide in a friend, but they often go no further than that out of embarrassment or fear or a misplaced sense of blame. I cannot stress it enough -- sexual assault by anyone, be it a total stranger or someone you know very well, is a crime. It is not just a situation that has gotten 'out of control,' or a case of no offense because the victim 'should have known better' than to put herself at risk. It is a crime, and the people who commit these crimes cannot be stopped unless they are reported.

    "We understand how difficult it can be to talk to someone about a violation of such a personal nature, and for that reason the University has various support people and programs to help victims," Munsters said. "Most importantly, a person who has been sexually assaulted should notify someone immediately. One of the people she can call is the Dean-on-Call, who will assist her in notifying police. It is vital that someone be notified, and, as is the case in any crime, the sooner the better. But even if a substantial amount of time has elapsed, tell someone in authority. It's never too late."

    Among the resources available at the University for victims of sexual assault are:

    _ University Police, who can be summoned from any of the 134 white emergency phones located throughout the community, or by dialing 123 from any campus phone or calling 702-8181;

    _ Mitchell Emergency Room medical and counseling services (702-6250), which will immediately notify a Sexual Assault Survivor Advocate when a person who has been sexually assaulted comes to the emergency room;

    _ Dean-on-Call (702-8181, or 123 from a campus phone), who will assist a victim of sexual assault in contacting University Police or will contact the student when police are notified;

    _ Student Counseling & Resource Service (702-9800), which can provide confidential support, counseling and resource referrals and always has a therapist on call;

    _ South East Chicago Commission Victim Assistance Program (324-6926), which offers a trained professional to help victims of sexual assault understand the relevant provisions and procedures of the criminal-justice system and, if requested, to accompany the victim during police questioning or in court;

    _ University Health Service's Womancare (702-0240), which will provide ongoing follow-up health care and services, including health-care services for women who have chosen not to seek care immediately after an assault;

    _ Sexual Violence Prevention Resource Center (702-7200), which focuses on education and provides referral resources for victims of sexual violence;

    _ Perspectives staff and faculty assistance program ((800) 456-6327), which can provide referrals for counseling and treatment for victims of sexual assault as well as for the victims' family members.