It is incredibly troubling when the narratives of survivors are undermined by the perception that 90% of sexual assaults fall into categories that appear less than what society believes constitutes actual rape.

Only 2-8% of rapes are falsely reported [1]. This is quite the opposite of the narrative recently shared by acting leaders in the Office of Civil Rights and the Department of Education. This is a troubling and scary for victims, victim advocates, and students everywhere.

Additionally, 90% of college students know their attacker and that over three quarters of those assaults involve alcohol [2], making the use of alcohol related to sexual violence a serious epidemic even more likely on college campuses.

As a service provider who routinely works with students in advocating for their rights in schools, we have experienced schools who have taken Title IX very seriously in ensuring a response that is accommodating and supportive, while balancing the rights of those accused. We have also experienced schools who routinely have problematic responses, which in turn cultivate hostile learning environments that have devastating effects on students’ success in acquiring their education in an environment conducive to learning; the very right given to them under Title IX.

It is our every hope that the Office of Civil Rights and Department of Education continue to take sexual violence seriously and prioritize ensuring all students are afforded equal opportunity to non-discriminatory access to education.

RVA currently works with over 13 local universities and colleges in the Chicago area, providing training to professional staff, consultation on their policies and procedures responding to sexual violence, participation on campus committees, and support with awareness activities. RVA also provides free services, including 24-hour hospital crisis response, accompaniment to Title IX hearings, individual counseling, and specialized support groups for college students.

Statement from our Director of Programs and Public Policy, Sarah Layden.

[1] Lonsway, K., Archambault, J., & Lisak, D. (2009). False Reports: Moving Beyond the Issue to Successfully Investigate and Prosecute NonStranger Sexual Assault.
[2] Sampson, R. (2011). Acquaintance Rape of College Students.

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