Since January 2001, 30 UW-Madison students have reported incidents of sexual assault to university authorities.
“Let’s keep in mind that sexual assault is the most unreported crime,” said Angela Bartucci, founder of Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment.
An estimated nine out of 10 women raped on campus do not report the crime, according to the Northwest Illinois Coalition against Sexual Assault.
Although the definition of rape differs from person to person, the most common definition is that rape is unwanted sexual intercourse — vaginal, oral, or anal.
Sexual assault is defined as unwanted touch, fondling, or rape committed against the will of another person.
Sexual harassment means unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome requests for sexual favors, unwelcome physical contact of a sexual nature or unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
One in eight female undergrads is sexually assaulted during her UW career, and most of them know the assailant, according to a sexual assault violations survey in 1995.
The majority of rapes that occur are termed “acquaintance rapes,” in which the offender and the victim know one another.
“Usually we don’t see any stranger assaults; it is always a casual acquaintance or even a boyfriend,” UW Police Det. Bruce Carroll said.
According to Northwest Illinois Coalition against Sexual Assault, 84 percent of all sexual assaults are committed by an acquaintance of the victim.
“It is the hardest crime to deal with because it is so personal,” Bartucci said. “The victim usually blames herself, but she needs to realize it’s not her fault, no matter how drunk she was.”
The most common drug in a date-rape situation is alcohol. According to UW professor of social work Aaron Brower, 85 percent to 90 percent of assaults are alcohol related.
“Alcohol plays a huge role in sexual harassment, especially on campus,” Bartucci said.
There are options out there for victims. Students can report assault to the dean of students, the Rape Crisis Center (which as a 24-hour hotline) or the university police.
“Most people don’t report crime because it’s not an easy thing to do,” Carroll said. “It’s even harder to keep re-living it till the court process is over. Most victims want to forget about it and go about their lives, but that doesn’t get the assailant off the streets.”
The Rape Crisis Center offers rape victims a chance to talk about their feelings.
“We do not force a victim to do anything they don’t want to,” Carroll said. “We are simply here to offer guidance.”
Harassment does not have to be reported immediately after it occurs, but a significant delay in reporting an incident may be a factor in the evaluation of a claim that the incident constituted sexual harassment.
The local rape crisis number is 251-RAPE, the sexual assault nurse examiner program, 267-6206 and
SAFEwalk nighttime transportation, 262-5000.