The Latest Trends in Anonymous Sexual Assault Reporting On Campus

Posted by Megan Miller on 20 September 2016 |

sexual assault reportingA 2014 Department of Justice (DOJ) study discovered only 20 percent of female students, age 18-24 who experienced sexual violence, report to law enforcement. As researched in a previous blog, there are many reason why students don’t report sexual assault on campus to the authorities.

Most commonly, students cited the following reasons for not coming forward:

  • Fear they did not have proof that the incident occurred
  • Afraid of retaliation
  • Scared of hostile treatment by authorities
  • Uncertain that the authorities would consider the incident serious enough
  • Prevent family and others from learning about it
  • Didn’t understand how to report the incident

Reporting serious incidents to authorities can be a daunting task. It can be even scarier when reporting under duress. Victims of sexual assault want more options beyond filing official complaints.

A New Option for Reporting Sexual Assault

However, many students feel uncomfortable reaching out to a public figure to report an assault. As Jessica Ladd, Founder and CEO of Sexual Health Innovations and a victim of campus sexual violence, recalled, “[t]he experience of reporting was almost as traumatic as the assault itself…Reporting is never easy, but it doesn't have to be that hard”.

There is a movement to reverse the trend of unreported sexual assault on campus by giving victims more reporting options. Many colleges are testing anonymous reporting tools that can help victims feel safer and empowered when they report a sexual assault incident.

Developing an anonymous sexual assault reporting platform is in the testing phase, but is an experiment that many colleges are trying as they face increased scrutiny for their sexual violence statistics and programs.

Minnesota Leads the Way

States such as Minnesota and Connecticut have taken it a step further and enacted laws requiring colleges to develop and promote websites where victims can file reports of campus sexual violence incidents anonymously.

The law that took effect in Minnesota recently is aimed at improving sexual assault prevention and response on college campuses across the state. Moreover, the law requires that the colleges have websites where sexual assault incidents can be anonymously reported A student can file a complaint and return to their account and add details, and reference a robust FAQ section without interacting with authorities.

According to Yvonne Cournoyer of the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, “[t]he idea was to … reduce some of the fear around reporting….It allows victims to come forward when they’re not ready to be identified.”

Conclusion

As this anonymous form of reporting gains traction, and as colleges report data on the number of incidents on campus, it will become increasingly evident if this format reduces the fear or retraumatization of reporting sexual assault.

We should note that students should still feel comfortable meeting with their Title IX office, dorm RA, campus security or other authorities.

To learn more about training to prevent campus sexual training violence, see our Title IX training courses.

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