Some local experts and citizens believe that the true extent of rape in Rexburg is not being captured by official measurements.
Madison Memorial Hospital employs two nurses that have special training to respond to rape victims. Known as Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE nurses), they are called in to the hospital whenever a rape victim checks in.
Bradley, one of the SANE nurses in Rexburg, estimates that the Emergency department treated approximately ten patients for rape in 2010.
The Rexburg Police Department directs the public to court records which show only one rape occurring in 2010: A juvenile court case filed because of an underage female.
However, Margie Harris, Executive Director of the Family Crisis Center in Rexburg, believes that the number of rapes the police are told about does not accurately represent the true extent of the crime.
“There are a lot of rapes in Rexburg that go unreported,” Harris said.
Nurse Bradley agrees.
“Real rape has a real presence in Rexburg,” Bradley said. “There are more rapes in Rexburg that are not reported than are reported.”
Police Captain Randy Lewis believes that rapes are actually over-reported, because women feel ashamed after having consensual sex (where both parties agree), or are pressured by roommates to label their sexual activity as rape.
Harris disagrees with the police captain.
“The vast majority of rapes in Rexburg are not consensual,” Harris said. “Consensual rape victims are seldom.”
Harris believes that victims would not take the time to go to the hospital or seek professional assistance at the Crisis Center if their experience was consensual.
“Most women are not going to lie about it,” Harris said. Harris and Bradley believe that the real number of rapes occurring is greater than police department or even the hospital and crisis center know about.
Harris said that usually for every rape reported, there is another rape that goes unreported, and nationwide statistics verify this trend.
Bradley also said that rapes have increased in recent years, and the growth of BYU-Idaho will result in even more rapes in Rexburg.
The predicted growth of BYU-Idaho “will increase more unreported rapes than reported,” Bradley said. “[I’m not using] a scare tactic, it’s just common sense.”
Bradley believes that universities create an environment where illegal activity is inevitably going to happen.
“You’ve got a 4 year college, and you’ve got everything going on there,” Bradley said.
Harris gave some reasons why these rapes may go unreported.
“Victims don’t know help is available, or they feel what happened is their fault,” Harris said, “They’re afraid.”
To address the problem, Bradley believes that BYU-Idaho should educate students on relationships, and criticized BYU-Idaho’s lack of education on date rape.
BYU-Idaho’s security and safety office has offered Rape Aggression Defense courses in the past that teach self defense to students and faculty.
The next scheduled classes are in February, and tickets may be obtained through the ticket office in the Kimball building.
Speaking to the younger residents of Rexburg, Bradley gave some advice. “Don’t let roommates cover it ; you need to call law enforcement. It’s not just about the rape victim, it’s about the person you’re about to accuse of rape.”
Bradley also said it is not safer for young women to walk alone after dark in Rexburg than in any other big city.
BYU-Idaho’s security and safety office offers free uniformed escorts to within one block of campus should students feel uncomfortable walking home.
Diana Nell Densley, a BYU-Idaho alumnus, became aware of the discrepancy in rape statistics in a research class two years ago when a professor showed a Rexburg police report that documented only one rape for the previous year. In reply, two different students raised their hands and said they knew of three different students that had been raped the previous year.