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What Is Campus Rape?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2016
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Campus rape is a sexual assault that occurs on school grounds. Commonly associated with universities, campus rape issues are often difficult to prosecute due to a lack of solid evidence regarding the circumstances. Some studies suggest that campus rape and sexual assault are extremely common, with the vast majority of victims being female. As with all sexual assaults, victims may experience long-lasting and painful physical and psychological effects following an attack.

Any school property may be a potential location for campus rape. Dormitories, fraternities and sororities, school buildings, and even walkways are common areas for an attack. Assailants found responsible for a sexual assault on school property may be subject to disciplinary penalties, such as suspension and expulsion, as well as criminal consequences. In some cases, schools will assign disciplinary penalties even if no criminal case is prosecuted.

Unfortunately, school-based sexual assaults can be extremely difficult for both legal and educational officials to manage. Since alcohol and drug use is frequently associated with campus rapes, it can be very difficult to conclusively determine consent or capacity for rational behavior on the part of any involved parties. School rape cases may be less likely to involve obvious signs of forced penetration or injuries from struggling, since rapists may use a victim's intoxication or even unconsciousness to overpower them without a fight. While evidence may show that a sex act occurred, the circumstances of that act often boil down to hearsay evidence.

The exact frequency of campus rape is also difficult to pin down, since some experts suggest that a significant portion of attacks are not reported. Victims may be afraid to come forward out of shame, or may be unable to fully remember the incident and fear reprisal for the use of drugs or alcohol. In schools where disciplinary measures against sexual assault are considered insignificant, the victim may also feel that bringing the matter to the attention of school or police authorities is pointless. Some recorded reports even show instances where victims are discouraged from pursuing educational or legal action by school officials.

Though men are not immune from the threat of campus rape, most studies show that the vast majority of assault victims are female. In particular, first-year females seem to be targeted for assault, thanks to their comparative vulnerability. To reduce the chances of an assault on campus, experts suggest reducing alcohol consumption, avoiding drugs, traveling through campus in pairs or groups, and keeping a friend informed of whereabouts and plans at all times. Some experts also suggest taking self-defense classes to help better avoid a sexual assault in any circumstance.

The affects of campus rape can be serious and long lasting. Not only are victims at risk for pregnancy or the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases, they may face serious psychological and emotional trauma as a result of the attack. Rape victims may be unable to feel safe on campus, particularly if their assailant is permitted to remain as a student, as well. Counseling is often recommend to help manage the trauma of a sexual assault.

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