We have seen recent news reports about alleged sexual assaults on female students at NC State. The reports said that three women who attended the same party in July in on-campus housing reported that they were assaulted by “three male students they knew.” The reports make it seem like it’s unusual to be assaulted by a man you know. But that is not the case.
In fact, sexual assaults are usually carried out (sorry guys) by men the victims know. It’s pretty much the definition of sexual assault: somebody you know suddenly surprises you, acts different, becomes aggressive, and ends up sexually assaulting you. You expect him to behave one way because you know him, and he catches you off guard and takes advantage of you. He may or may not beat you up in the process.
The press may be focusing on the fact that the victims knew the male students because we all like to think we can trust the people we know. And for the most part, we can. But rape is not committed by strangers. Women who are raped are usually raped by someone they know. According to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, seven out of ten rapes are committed by someone known to the victim.
As a lawyer who represents victims of sexual assaults, I see this all the time. It would be unusual for the victims NOT to know their assailants. What I also see is victims of sexual assault beating themselves up because they knew their attacker and that makes them feel responsible somehow for what happened to them. Some good counseling, with time and perspective, can help a victim see that because the attacker knew her, it was easier for him to know how to assault her.
So don’t let the fact that you knew your rapist prevent you from reporting a crime. What he knew about you is one more piece of evidence for law enforcement.
And speaking of what was known, we just wonder how much information did NC State officials perhaps have that the alleged perpetrators of these crimes had violent sexual tendencies? Did anyone complain previously about inappropriate behavior by these students? College can be dangerous, and unfortunately, sexual assaults seem to be on the increase at NC State. Let’s hope the trend doesn’t continue.