Written by Mike Reyes and Kaeley Scruggs
In the United States, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men are victims of attempted rape or rape, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. 80 percent of those victims are under the age of 30, the organization reports.
Although many might consider Rexburg a small town, incidents of sexual assault and rape still occur among students, according to the BYU-Idaho Title IX Office.
Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on gender in federally funded education programs and activities, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Amy Pin (name has been changed), a BYU–Idaho student, was sexually assaulted when she was 17.
Pin said that although most people at BYU–I are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it does not mean sexual assaults do not occur.
She said that two years ago, when she was home alone, a close friend pulled into her driveway unexpectedly.
“He came and grabbed me, … was really aggressive and was trying to pull off some of my clothing,” Pin said.
Pin said he was touching her inappropriately and trying to get her into his car.
“He had a fire in his eyes, and I could tell exactly what he wanted from me,” Pin said.
She said she told him she would call 911 if he did not stop.
“He kept pushing himself on me, and then he stopped, threw me into the grass and drove away,” Pin said.
Four sexual-assault incidents have been reported in 2015 to the university Title IX Office, according to the BYU–I Title IX Office.
“Anytime I go on campus and speak to a group of students, I’ll say ‘How many of you have been a victim of sexual misconduct or know somebody that’s been a victim of sexual misconduct?’ and the majority of hands go up,” said Nick Rammell, deputy Title IX coordinator for BYU–I and associate dean of students.
Kevin Miyasaki, student services and activities vice president at BYU–Idaho said he thinks the first place many victims will go is the Family Crisis Center because it is a place of confidence and is not affiliated with any organization.
“I think it’s seen as safe by victims,” Miyasaki said.
In 2014, the Family Crisis Center — a nonprofit organization that serves and provides resources for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking — received 29 reports of sexual assault, 11 of which were reported by people between the ages of 18 and 24.
In a previous Scroll article published in January 2011, Margie Harris, then the executive director of the Family Crisis Center, said she believes the number of rapes the police are told about does not accurately represent the true extent of the crime.
“Research shows that somewhere from 2/3 to 3/4 of sexual assaults go unreported on college campuses,” Rammell said.
Rammell said that although BYU–I is a safe campus, it is not immune to sexual misconduct in all its forms.
Pin said when she was sexually assaulted, it was a personal experience she was not eager to share.
“You feel that nobody will understand, that you don’t want to tell anybody,” Pin said.
Pin said she tried to live her life as normally as possible and did not tell many of her friends for a month, but when one friend called her, she broke down and told him what had happened.
“I was really blessed to have someone in my life who I could open up to,” Pin said.
Miyasaki said there are a variety of factors involved with students not reporting incidents of sexual assault.
“I think the statistics show that, most times, those people who are victims — the perpetrators are known to them,” Miyasaki said. “They are not unknown people. That could be a fear; they’re afraid the person could get in trouble. There could also be the fear that they would be discounted themselves or fear that they might not be taken seriously.”
Eighty-two percent of sexual-assault victims know their attacker, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.
Of that 82 percent, 47 percent of those victims are attacked by a friend or acquaintance, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.
President Miyasaki said another factor that prevents victims from reporting assaults is fear that no one will believe them.
“So many times many of these [people] feel that they’re going to be discounted or .. of getting in trouble themselves,” Miyasaki said. “So they keep it to themselves, and that is the worst thing that could happen. … Instead of seeking help and assistance and support to help them through these very tragic circumstances, we want to be open for a resource.”
Pin said people often say “you’re just playing the victim,” and a negative connotation is attached to the word “victim” because of it.
“But people who have been sexually assaulted really are victims,” she said. “ … I felt like a victim because I was a victim. It’s not just someone who had a bad experience who feels bad for themselves. It’s someone who’s really gone through a traumatic experience that you won’t understand … unless you’ve gone through it.”
Miyasaki said the proper response when someone tells you they have been sexually assaulted is to be Christlike and love and support.
Miyasaki said our role is not to judge.
“I don’t want to give the wrong impression because statistically, this is a relatively safe campus,” Rammell said. “But we’re working with enough students to know there [are] a number of them that have been victimized. Some of that has happened before they came to BYU-Idaho or during their time away, off-track. For every victim that I talk to, I know there are two or three more victims that haven’t come to see us. Either they don’t want to, they’re too scared to, or they don’t know where to go.”
Rammell (firstname.lastname@example.org) also said he hopes that everyone — whether they are a victim of sexual assault or they might know someone who is a victim of sexual assault — knows that if they have questions, concerns or just need someone to talk to, they can contact his office — by phone, email or in person.
“The thing that people have to understand is even if they came and reported it to the Title IX office, they can refuse to have it investigated,” Miyasaki said.” We can just simply [say], ‘We’d love to have it investigated. We’d love to be able to look into the situation.’ But we’ve had many cases where the people just have not wanted to do that. But rather they want support, they want help, they want to try to work though it.”
Miyasaki said he reiterates The Church’s stance on sexual abuse.
Victims are not responsible for the others’ actions. Victims of sexual violence have no need to feel guilt and should know they are not guilty of sexual sin in any way, according to lds.org.
“We take these reports very seriously and do as much as we can to respond appropriately,” Rammell said. “With victims, a significant portion of our work centers around helping them connect with resources on campus and in the community. We do not want victims to suffer in silence because they are unable to find the resources that they need.”
If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual violence, there are resources you can turn to for help.
Family Crisis Center
24-Hour Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-962-5601
Address: 16 E Main St., Rexburg, ID 83440
BYU-Idaho Title IX Office
Address: 290 Kimball Building, Rexburg, ID 83460
BYU-Idaho Counseling Center
Address: The BYU-Idaho Counseling Center is located on the 2nd floor of the BYU-Idaho Health Center