*Editor’s note: Name has been changed to protect identity.
Rachel Hansen,* a sophomore studying social work, wants to be a voice for the voiceless.
Just a few weeks ago, Hansen was sexually assaulted, leaving her feeling like she didn’t want to talk with anyone about what had happened. But she knew she had to.
“It’s way easier to not talk to anybody about it and to not say anything,” Hansen said. “It’s easier, and it’s what you want to do because even just talking about it makes you feel sick, but the only way you can heal from things like that is by talking about it and getting the help that you deserve.”
Hansen went on BYU-Idaho’s Title IX website and filled out a “Report a Concern” form. She submitted it, expecting to wait a few days for a response.
Fifteen minutes later, the Title IX office contacted her.
Hansen spoke with Nick Rammell, the Title IX coordinator. “He was so incredibly helpful,” Hansen said. “He was just 100 percent on my side. ‘We’re gonna figure this out, I’m here for you no matter what.'”
Rammell gave her many options. He sent an email out to her professors just in case she needed help finishing the semester, helped her report it to the police, helped her get counseling.
“It was really fast, but it was really relieving,” Hansen said. Rammell just took it into his hands.
Rammell said the Title IX offices make sure to give the victims options and not make decisions for them, pointing out that someone making a decision for them is the reason why they chose to visit the office in the first place.
According to the Title IX website, the office protects against gender discrimination, sexual harassment, violence, and exploitation, domestic and dating violence, and other sexual misconduct.
“Sexual misconduct is against the law, contrary to the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Honor Code, and inconsistent with the life and teachings Jesus Christ, which we hope are embodied on our campus,” states the website.
For victims of abuse or sexual misconduct, Hansen said to contact the Title IX office, the Family Crisis Center, the police or a bishop. She wants them to know they shouldn’t be silent.
This is not the first time Hansen has been sexually assaulted. After the first time, which took place several years ago, she stayed silent for years, causing deep psychological and emotional damage. It was only when she broke her silence and talked with someone that she moved forward.
Hansen contacted the office about three weeks after her assault but wishes she would have done it earlier.
“I felt like I got my voice back, like I got my confidence back,” she said. “Someone else has my back right now.”
Rammell said they have investigated about a dozen sexual misconduct claims this semester. There were 30 investigations in the winter semester. He’s not sure why the number went down so much, but he certainly doesn’t sleep better at night because of it.
Hansen wants victims of sexual abuse to know that it does not define them. She realized she should not let her abuser take her happiness from her or give him power over her happiness.
“Make it into a building block and not a stumbling block,” Hansen said.
Victims of sexual misconduct can reach the Title IX office at (208) 496-9209, or visit them in Spencer W. Kimball Building 290.
Rammell said every victim has a different response to sexual misconduct, but he suggests finding a safe place and someone you trust immediately after an assault. This can be hard for most people since their trust has been broken, but the Title IX office works to build a circle of support around every student who contacts them, a circle which can include roommates, bishops and counselors.
One reason why students might not come to the Title IX office, Rammell said, is because they misunderstand the relationship between that office and the Honor Code office. Since victims have not broken the Honor Code, the two offices are completely separate. The Title IX office has an amnesty clause for that purpose.
Rammell said one of the options for students is the Counseling Center. The BYU-I Counseling Center provides counseling at no charge for full-time students. Call them at (208) 496-9370.
Victims can also visit the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network at rainn.org, or call 1-800-656-4673.
Community resources include the Rexburg Police Department and Madison Memorial Hospital, which can be reached at (208) 359-6900.
Victims of domestic violence can visit The National Domestic Violence Hotline at thehotline.org, or call 1-800-799-7233.