New survey sheds light on university sex assaults - WFSB 3 Connecticut

New survey sheds light on university sex assaults

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Yale University. (WFSB file photo) Yale University. (WFSB file photo)

A new study shed light on campus sex assaults at dozens of schools, including Yale University in New Haven, which ranked higher than average.

The survey by the American Association of Universities looked at 27 big name schools from coast to coast.

“AAU undertook this initiative to assist our universities in their ongoing efforts to address sexual assault and sexual misconduct on campus,” said Hunter Rawlings, president of AAU. “Our universities are working to ensure their campuses are safe places for students. The primary goal of the survey is to help them better understand the experiences and attitudes of their students with respect to this challenge.”

It said on average about 23 percent of undergraduate women claimed to have been sexually assaulted. At Yale, it was more than 28 percent.

In all, 150,000 students were part of the survey, according to the association.

Donna Palomba, a rape survivor and founder of Jane Doe No More, said that 23 percent average is likely higher.

"There are so many victims that never say a word," she said.

The survey found that the rate of sexual assault ranged from 13 percent to 30 percent. It also said only one in four students reported sex assaults to universities or police.

It reported that 19.3 percent of students responded to the survey. At Yale, the response rate was 52 percent.

Yale’s deputy provost for health affairs, Stephanie Spangler, issued a statement on Tuesday about the survey.

“The preliminary analysis clearly and strongly points to the need for immediate action,” she said.

Palomba said there are many reasons why a man or a woman may not choose to report it, namely the stigma associated with sexual assault.

"'Was he or she drinking? What were they wearing? Where were they? Were they alone?'" she said. "[It's almost like it's their fault."

Palomba's voice for survivors is tied to her personal experience. She said she was attacked in her home in 1993. Her two children were sleeping down the hallway.

"He put a pillowcase over my head, bound my hands behind my back and my eyes and cut my clothing and he raped me," she said.

She said her decision to have a rape kit done was pivotal in the capture of her attacker years later. She encouraged all survivors to do one, even if charges are not involved.

"It was absolutely crucial that I did that, and I'm so grateful that a law enforcement officer that night at the house suggested that I go to the hospital," Palomba said.

In the wake of the survey, Jane Doe No More said it is launching a 2016 Safe Campus initiative campaign across the country to educate college campuses about sexual assault.

The group cited statistics when it said that the first six weeks of a freshman year are the most dangerous.

Palomba hoped that as the conversation grows, she hoped to see more men taking a stance. She said a study showed that one in 20 undergraduate men said they were sexually assaulted.

For more information about Jane Doe No More, click here.

To see the results of the survey, click here.

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