Philadelphia Debut of ‘The Hunting Ground’ & Discussion with Filmmaker

“Triumphant… a stirring call to action” – Indiewire   The Hunting Ground is a moving new documentary from the Oscar-nominated filmmakers behind The Invisible War. Their new film explores the problem of sexual assault on college campuses, and the broad failure of university administrators to protect victims and hold assailants accountable for their actions. As much as The Hunting Groundis about failures of our society and institutions, it is also an illuminating profile of the college activists who, by working together, transformed themselves from rape survivors to advocates demanding reform. The incredible young women featured in The Hunting Ground successfully sparked a long-overdue conversation what college administrators can and should be doing to prevent and properly adjudicate sexual assault. Now, we want to continue that conversation with you. This Friday, The Hunting Ground will premiere in Philadelphia at the Ritz Five theater. Following the 7:05 screening, The Hunting Ground producer Amy Ziering, Laura Palumbo of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center NSVRC, Kristen Houser of Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape PCAR, and Women’s Law Project Executive Director Carol E. Tracy will discuss the film. We understand that Friday is an important religious holiday, but wanted to extend this invitation to learn more about this incredible wave of activism, meet the film’s producer and hear from Carol, who served as an advisor to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault and who has a cameo appearance in the film. The Women’s Law Project has provided legal assistance to students for many years. Recently, WLP spoke out against flawed criticism of the new adjudication process implemented at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where Carol is also a lecturer in Women’s Studies. We hope to see you on...

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WLP Attorneys: Penn Professors Are Wrong

By Tara Murtha, WLP Staff   Women’s Law Project Executive Director Carol E. Tracy, Managing Attorney Terry L. Fromson and Staff Attorney Amal Bass, lawyers with extensive experience working with Title IX, the civil law that prohibits discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding, have written an open letter responding to University of Pennsylvania professors’ criticism of their school’s new system for adjudicating sexual assault complaints. The background: Last month, in response to ongoing criticism and national debate regarding how schools should appropriately handle accusations of sexual assault, the University of Pennsylvania announced a new disciplinary system designed to improve adjudication of rape allegations. The changes went into effect on February 1. From the Philadelphia Inquirer: Penn joins a growing number of schools around the country that have examined their practices in the wake of increased scrutiny over the handling of sexual assault and harassment on campus. More women are coming forward to lodge complaints, and men who are accused of assault in some cases are suing universities for disciplinary action taken against them. More than 90 universities around the country — Penn is not one of them — are under review by the U.S. Department of Education for their handling of sexual assault. Last week, 16 of the University’s 49 tenure or tenure-track law school faculty members (16 of 67 full-time law school staff, according to the school’s website) signed an open lettercriticizing the new system. The dean of the law school did not sign the letter. On Wednesday, 26 students at University’s law school responded to their professors’ criticism and defended the new system. From the letter from students to professors: “[Your] letter perpetuates the harmful myth that survivors of sexual violence should be disbelieved, silenced and denied non-criminal relief unless they seek and obtain criminal conviction of their assailant.” Specifically, the law students accused the professors of “conflating” the rules, scope and evidentiary standards applicable to courtroom trials of criminal defendants with the actual issues at hand, which are the rules, scope and evidentiary standards of the school-based adjudication process for identifying student misconduct. “[The professors’] Open Letter must be seen for what it is: a disagreement with Title IX’s mandate that sexual assault survivors not be made to struggle through grievance procedures that specially insulate those accused of sexual assault,” wrote the students. Attorneys at the Women’s Law Project with extensive experience working with Title IX also responded to the professor’s letter. From today’s Philadelphia Inquirer: With all due respect, the 16 law professors who have objected to the new disciplinary procedures for sexual violence have it wrong… Our decades of experience working directly with victims...

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FBI Releases First Annual Report Using Revised Definition of Rape

By Tara Murtha The FBI recently released the preliminary annual Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) statistics for 2013. The statistics reflect data submitted voluntarily from 18,415 city, county, state, tribal, campus, and federal law enforcement agencies. While the data is not a complete picture of the number of crime reports to police in the United States, it is significantly closer to accurate in one area in particular: rape. The 2013 UCR report is the first annual report to use the recently revised definition of rape. This  report represents a significant milestone in a long campaign to move national data on sexual assault reports to police closer to reality. The UCR report numbers are important because the data informs policy, our cultural understanding of problems that must be fixed in society, and the amount of grant money allocated to fund advocacy organizations working on behalf of victims of sex crimes and to improve institutional responses. Women’s Law Project led the charge to revise the FBI’s UCR definition of rape. In 2010, Executive Director Carol E. Tracy detailed the problem at a hearing before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs. In 2011, the FBI’s Criminal Justice Advisory Policy Board voted in favor of changing the definition of rape in its Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Summary Reporting System (SRS) to reflect what the public understands to be rape, and to conform with state felony sex crime statutes. Before the revision, the FBI defined rape as “carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” It excluded many other variations of rape and all male victims. In other words, it was “narrow, outmoded, steeped in gender-based stereotypes, and seriously understated the true incidence of sex crimes.” The FBI definition of rape had not been updated since the system was established in 1929. The revised definition is “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” It encompasses male victims and offenders, includes drug-facilitated rape and reflects the various kinds of nonconsensual penetration of rape. “This new, more inclusive definition will provide us with a more accurate understanding of the scope and volume of these crimes,” Attorney General Eric Holder said at the time. “The public has the right to know about the prevalence of sex crimes,” said Terry L. Fromson, Managing Attorney of the WLP. The FBI projected that the number of rapes will increase by as much as 41.7% as the more inclusive definition is implemented. This increase, however, does not necessarily mean that...

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Victory! Bill to Protect Domestic Violence Victims from Eviction Heads to Governor’s Desk

We asked for your help, you gave it. We heard about all the phone calls and emails. Now, together, we achieved a huge victory for the rights of domestic violence survivors in Pennsylvania, who can no longer be legally evicted from their homes for calling authorities for help when they need it. The background: Sponsored by Rep. Todd Stephens, HB1796, titled “Protection for Victims of Crime from Certain Municipal Ordinances” was drafted in response to a situation so outrageous that it gained national attention. Thanks to a so-called “nuisance property ordinance” that enabled landlords in Norristown, Pa. to evict tenants for calling 911, a domestic violence victim named Lakisha Briggs was forced to choose between eviction and enduring physical abuse at the hands of an ex-partner, who would not leave the home she shared with her toddler. But after passing through the House, this good faith bill was hijacked by one bewildering amendment after another. First, a bad sick day amendment was the problem. Then, a pro-gun amendment was tacked on to the bill the same day domestic violence advocates traveled to Harrisburg to remember the victims of DV murdered in Pennsylvania last year—many of them with a gun as the weapon. Following the lead of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, we called out for supporters to contact their senators and ask to drop the amendments and pass the bill—and that’s just what happened an hour ago on the floor of the Pennsylvania Senate on their last day in session. They listened. “No woman or man should have to risk their life, or their family because they’re scared of being evicted,” Senator Judy Schwank said. “Do I need to remind us when we all saw a few weeks ago the senseless beating of a woman in an elevator?” asked Senator John Rafferty, Jr., before pointing out that this victory is an example of the good work that can get done when both sides of the aisle come together to cooperate on important issues. In the end, the bill passed the Senate unanimously. “I am glad that you colleagues in the Senate decided to do the right thing and remove the paid sick leave preemption language from House Bill 1796,” Senator Vincent Hughes, an advocate of the bill, told Women’s Law Project. “We must do everything we can to protect the victims of domestic violence and this version of the bill is a step forward instead of a step backwards.” Next, it heads to the desk of the Governor to be signed into law. This bill is the third initiative of the Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health, a bipartisan,...

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Intimate Partner/Domestic Violence (IPV)

More than one-third of women aged 18 and over in the U.S. were subjected to physical violence, sexual violence, and/or stalking by a current or former intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) estimates that 37.7% of Pennsylvania women, or 1.9 million women, have experience…

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2,340 Intimate Partner Homicides in 2007

Intimate partner violence is often fatal. For example, stalking, which involves unwanted repeated harassing or threatening conduct that causes fear in a reasonable person, often escalates over time and may become violent and ultimately lethal. There were 2,340 intimate partner homicides in 2007. 70% of the victims were female. Women are more often killed by someone they know: in 2007, 64% of the female homicide victims were killed by a family member or intimate partner. An additional 25% of the female homicide victims were killed by other individuals they knew, and approximately 10% were murdered by a stranger. SOLUTIONS Take Action Contact Your Elected Representatives Pressure on politicians matters. Find your state representative – click here Find your congressional representative – click here Become a County Leader Take the lead in your community. Check out these resources to learn more about the gender wage gap Through the Lens of Equality: Eliminating Sex Bias to Improve the Health of Pennsylvania’s Women (2012) Women’s Law Project (WLP) Gender Equity in Intercollegiate Athletics: Where Does Pennsylvania Stand? Women’s Law Project (WLP) Title IX Requirements Not...

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Increased Screening at Pediatric Emergency Centers

Health care providers should routinely assess for IPV. In addition to hospitals, obstetrics and gynecology offices, and primary care practices, there may also be opportunities for increased screening at pediatric emergency centers of adults who seek treatment for their children, to determine whether the adults have experienced IPV. IPV victims are more likely to seek medical care for their children than they are for themselves. SOLUTIONS Take Action Contact Your Elected Representatives Pressure on politicians matters. Find your state representative – click here Find your congressional representative – click here Become a County Leader Take the lead in your community. Check out these resources to learn more about the gender wage gap Through the Lens of Equality: Eliminating Sex Bias to Improve the Health of Pennsylvania’s Women (2012) Women’s Law Project (WLP) Gender Equity in Intercollegiate Athletics: Where Does Pennsylvania Stand? Women’s Law Project (WLP) Title IX Requirements Not...

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1.9 Million Women, Have Experienced IPV

The NISVS estimates that 37.7% of PA women, or 1.9 million women, have experienced IPV. Almost 20% of PA women, or 977K, are estimated to be victims of stalking. These numbers are estimates because currently, the Commonwealth does not collect data on the number of PA individuals victimized by IPV. Data from the number of individuals who obtain assistance from IPV programs does not accurately reflect the number of abused women because it is estimated that only one in six victims of IPV receives services from a domestic violence service provider. Many victims are not aware of the existence of free services. Additionally, many victims do not report incidences of IPV because they view IPV as a private family matter, believe the situation will improve without intervention, fear retaliation if they seek intervention, are concerned the police will not believe them or protect them, or fear loss of custody of their children. All of these factors hinder victims of IPV from seeking assistance. SOLUTIONS Take Action Contact Your Elected Representatives Pressure on politicians matters. Find your state representative – click here Find your congressional representative – click here Become a County Leader Take the lead in your community. Check out these resources to learn more about the gender wage gap Through the Lens of Equality: Eliminating Sex Bias to Improve the Health of Pennsylvania’s Women (2012) Women’s Law Project (WLP) Gender Equity in Intercollegiate Athletics: Where Does Pennsylvania Stand? Women’s Law Project (WLP) Title IX Requirements Not...

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Prevent Cycle of Violence

Children who witness IPV are more likely to be abused themselves. More than 50% of households affected by violence between intimate partners include children under the age of twelve. The children may be physically injured in the course of violence directed toward their mothers. Witnessing IPV causes emotional distress, behavioral problems, and physical health problems for children. Studies show strong correlations between childhood exposure to violence at home and post-traumatic stress symptoms, as well as various health problems, such as asthma and gastrointestinal problems. If there is no adequate intervention, research shows that these children are at risk of repeating the violence in their intimate relationships as adults. Intervention is necessary in order to prevent this cycle of violence from occurring. SOLUTIONS Take Action Contact Your Elected Representatives Pressure on politicians matters. Find your state representative – click here Find your congressional representative – click here Become a County Leader Take the lead in your community. Check out these resources to learn more about the gender wage gap Through the Lens of Equality: Eliminating Sex Bias to Improve the Health of Pennsylvania’s Women (2012) Women’s Law Project (WLP) Gender Equity in Intercollegiate Athletics: Where Does Pennsylvania Stand? Women’s Law Project (WLP) Title IX Requirements Not...

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Subjected to “Reproductive Coercion”

The health consequences of IPV are severe and devastating. IPV is reported to be one of the most common causes of injury to women, with injuries to the head, face, neck, thorax, breasts and abdomen occurring more often in battered women than in other women. Hospital emergency rooms see many of the short term effects, though patients often do not identify the injuries as due to domestic violence and medical professionals often do not adequately screen for domestic violence. Women who experience sexual assault as well as physical abuse experience 40-45% more health issues than women who experience physical abuse alone. IPV victims may also be subjected to “reproductive coercion,” which includes forcing a partner to engage in unwanted sexual acts, intentionally transmitting STIs, sabotaging birth control to impregnate a partner against her will, and controlling the outcomes of a partner’s pregnancy. Ultimately, IPV victims may experience life-long psychological trauma stemming from abuse. SOLUTIONS Take Action Contact Your Elected Representatives Pressure on politicians matters. Find your state representative – click here Find your congressional representative – click here Become a County Leader Take the lead in your community. Check out these resources to learn more about the gender wage gap Through the Lens of Equality: Eliminating Sex Bias to Improve the Health of Pennsylvania’s Women (2012) Women’s Law Project (WLP) Gender Equity in Intercollegiate Athletics: Where Does Pennsylvania Stand? Women’s Law Project (WLP) Title IX Requirements Not...

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Solutions for Intimate Partner/Domestic Violence

To effectively combat epidemic rates of domestic violence in the U.S., an integrated response system and services infrastructure is required. Behavioral and Physical Health Care Victims of intimate partner violence in all 67 PA counties should have access to IPV services in health care settings. This includes trauma-informed care. Health care providers should routinely assess for IPV, including increased screening at pediatric emergency centers of adults who seek treatment for their children, to determine whether adults have experienced IPV. IPV victims are more likely to seek medical care for their children than they are for themselves. Courts Judges, court personnel, and mental health professionals should be educated about domestic violence and stalking and the importance of addressing victim and child safety in protection from abuse (PFA) and custody determinations. Access to legal assistance for victims of intimate partner violence should be increased. PA must increase and expand court-sponsored assistance for those representing themselves (“pro se litigants”), beyond the assistance courts may currently provide at intake. Law Enforcement The Pennsylvania State Police should include domestic violence and stalking education in its annual training. Currently, this training is not required. Better training on these issues sensitizes officers to the obstacles IPV and stalking victims face, helping them respond appropriately, so as to protect victims and increase the safety of the community. Police response to IPV must be improved and myths and biases that deter appropriate police response must be eliminated. Government Both the U.S. government and the Pennsylvania state government should enact legislation to prohibit the eviction from or denial of public housing based on a victim’s history of domestic violence. Services       Pennsylvania should increase funding for IPV services. The availability, early use, and quality of batterer treatment programs should be expanded and improved. Research should be pursued to determine which models are most effective to reduce battering. Pennsylvania should institute statewide domestic violence data collection. PA does not currently collect data on number of incidences and medical visits related to domestic violence. Employment Pennsylvania should enact legislation to provide paid leave for victims of IPV and stalking and mandate other employer protections in the workplace. Community PA should adopt coordinated local response approaches to IPV statewide. This means the integration of law enforcement, advocates, health care providers, social services, employers and schools. This system will work better and faster for...

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Sexual Assault on College Campus

20% of young women and 6% of young men will experience a completed or attempted rape during their college career. Young women in their first two years of college are at the highest risk of sexual assault. Fear of retaliation, self-blame, lack of confidence that something will be done, and lack of understanding that what was done to them is a reportable problem…

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Sexual Assault

Prior to 2011, no surveys reported the prevalence of rape in Pennsylvania. The NISVS reported that during a woman’s lifetime in Pennsylvania, 18.8% or 960,000 will experience rape, and 2.3 million women will be subjected to sexual violence other than rape. 5% of rape victims of reproductive age (12-45) become pregnant as a result …

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Usually Know The Person

Female college students usually know the person who sexually assaulted them. Most campus sexual assaults are committed by a perpetrator who is known to the victim. Most often, the attacker is a boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, classmate, friend, acquaintance, or co-worker. Because they frequently know their perpetrators, college students are less likely to report sexual harassment and assault. Low reporting can have an enormous impact on the incidence of future assaults because perpetrators of campus sexual assault are frequently repeat offenders. A 2002 campus study found that 120 rapists were responsible for 1,225 separate acts of interpersonal violence, including 483 acts of rape. Repeat rapists averaged 5.8 rapes each. Low reporting rates and lax disciplinary proceedings on campuses leave perpetrators in a position to perpetrate additional assaults. SOLUTIONS Take Action Contact Your Elected Representatives Pressure on politicians matters. Find your state representative – click here Find your congressional representative – click here Become a County Leader Take the lead in your community. Check out these resources to learn more about the gender wage gap Through the Lens of Equality: Eliminating Sex Bias to Improve the Health of Pennsylvania’s Women (2012) Women’s Law Project (WLP) Op-ed on recent action taken by the Department of Education to address sexual assault on college...

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Unable to Complete Their Education

Due to sexual victimization in college, many promising students are unable to complete their education and achieve their goals. Our schools need to do more to prevent sexual harassment, deter sexual predators on campus and respond appropriately to sexual misconduct. For too long, campus victims of sexual misconduct have suffered in unresponsive environments embedded with victim-blaming myths. Much like women in the military, campus victims of sexual misconduct have struggled through confusing policies and systems while seeking justice. In addition to the devastating physical and mental health consequences of sexual harassment and assault, many victims experience re-victimization at the hands of university officials, law enforcement and other community members who trivialize or dispute their assaults. SOLUTIONS Take Action Contact Your Elected Representatives Pressure on politicians matters. Find your state representative – click here Find your congressional representative – click here Become a County Leader Take the lead in your community. Check out these resources to learn more about the gender wage gap Through the Lens of Equality: Eliminating Sex Bias to Improve the Health of Pennsylvania’s Women (2012) Women’s Law Project (WLP) Op-ed on recent action taken by the Department of Education to address sexual assault on college...

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Many Reasons Victims Do Not Report

Fear of retaliation, self-blame, lack of confidence that something will be done, and lack of understanding that what was done to them is a reportable problem are some of the many reasons victims do not report sexual harassment or assault. Various estimates suggest only 5-11.5% of campus sexual assaults are reported to law enforcement, meaning that 88.5-95% go unreported. Fear of retaliation, self-blame, lack of confidence that something will be done, and lack of understanding that what was done to them is a reportable problem are some of the many reasons victims do not report sexual harassment or assault. Due to low reporting rates by victims, there are serious concerns that colleges and universities do not publicly report all known instances of sexual victimization. SOLUTIONS Take Action Contact Your Elected Representatives Pressure on politicians matters. Find your state representative – click here Find your congressional representative – click here Become a County Leader Take the lead in your community. Check out these resources to learn more about the gender wage gap Through the Lens of Equality: Eliminating Sex Bias to Improve the Health of Pennsylvania’s Women (2012) Women’s Law Project (WLP) Op-ed on recent action taken by the Department of Education to address sexual assault on college...

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First 2 Years – Highest Risk of Sexual Assault

Young women in their first two years of college are at the highest risk of sexual assault. Women attending college are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault to an extent greater than their non-college peers. Young women in their first two years of college are at the highest risk of sexual assault. Recent studies estimate 20% of young women and 6% of young men will experience a completed or attempted rape during their college career. Almost 2/3 of college students report experiencing some form of sexual harassment during their college careers, with nearly 1/3 of college students reporting being touched, grabbed or forced to do something sexual while in college. Both male and female students are likely to be sexually harassed: women were typically subjected to sexual comments and gestures, while men are more likely to be targeted with homophobic comments. The rates of sexual harassment in middle and high schools are just as high. In a 2011 survey conducted by the AAUW, almost 50% of students in grades 7-12 reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment or assault at some time in their school career. SOLUTIONS Take Action Contact Your Elected Representatives Pressure on politicians matters. Find your state representative – click here Find your congressional representative – click here Become a County Leader Take the lead in your community. Check out these resources to learn more about the gender wage gap Through the Lens of Equality: Eliminating Sex Bias to Improve the Health of Pennsylvania’s Women (2012) Women’s Law Project (WLP) Op-ed on recent action taken by the Department of Education to address sexual assault on college...

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Life-Long Consequences

Sexual harassment and/or assault experienced in college can cause physical, emotional & educational consequences that may be life-long. The health consequences resulting from sexual harassment and sexual assault are extraordinary and long-lasting, impacting a victim’s academic, social and future pursuits, in addition to their physical and mental health. Physical injuries from rape may include genital injury, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), as well as bruises, black-eyes, cuts, scratches, and swelling. Victims of sexual violence may be subject to chronic reproductive health conditions such as painful, prolonged, and heavy menstrual periods and sexual dysfunction. Victims of rape also experience a wide range of psychological harm: shock, humiliation, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, anger, distrust of others, fear of STIs, such as HIV/AIDS, and guilt. Sexual harassment affects the health of young women in similar ways. In addition to negative effects on their education, victims may experience depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, headaches, weight loss or gain, loss of confidence and self-esteem, and PTSD. SOLUTIONS Take Action Contact Your Elected Representatives Pressure on politicians matters. Find your state representative – click here Find your congressional representative – click here Become a County Leader Take the lead in your community. Check out these resources to learn more about the gender wage gap Through the Lens of Equality: Eliminating Sex Bias to Improve the Health of Pennsylvania’s Women (2012) Women’s Law Project (WLP) Op-ed on recent action taken by the Department of Education to address sexual assault on college...

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Solutions for Sexual Assault on College Campus

An appropriate and effective response team to handle sexual harassment and assault in school environments requires coordinated programming and action by multiple actors at the school, state, and federal level. For K-12 Schools: Adopt and publicize a non-discrimination policy that outlines the school’s responsibilities with respect to responding to sexual violence and identifies procedures to be followed and the identity of staff to contact if sexual victimization is experienced or observed. Provide early education on sexual harassment and sexual assault be integrating gender violence into the curriculum so that students understand what it is, that it is not acceptable and how to report it. Implement bystander education programs, which engage students by imagining every person as a potential witness (rather than the victim or perpetrator) of sexual violence. Provide mandatory education to the entire school staff by recognized experts in the area of sexual violence on how to identify sexual harassment and how to respond to it. For Colleges & Universities Adopt a sexual harassment policy that is readily available and clearly describes all forms of sexual misconduct, including what is and is not consent, prevalence of non-stranger sexual assault (acquaintance rape), drug facilitated sexual assault, the effects of sexual assault, how to report an assault, and available resources on campus and in the community. Adopt a procedure for community members seeking to file a complaint. The procedure should be written in easily understood language and widely disseminated so that students know it exists, how it works, and how to file a complaint. Train campus police, security personnel, and other individuals charged with responding to sexual victimization to effectively respond to sexual assault complaints. Make crisis intervention services available to students 24/7, every day of the school year, and make free emergency contraception, antibiotics and post-exposure HIV preventative treatment available in school health centers. Make long-term counseling services available for students, including access to unlimited free counseling for survivors. Provide annual educational programs regarding sexual assault. Promote reporting of sexual assaults by better handling of reports, having peer educators and advocates, and assuring that victims will not be punished if they report an assault that occurred while they were drinking or using drugs. Administer appropriate discipline, including suspension and expulsion, in order to eliminate the hostile environment, enable the victim to recapture her life, and prevent repeat offenders. NCAA Adopt a gender-violence policy that sets forth clear actions for individuals and schools that violate the guidelines. Pennsylvania Adopt legislation that protects individuals who testify in school internal judicial proceedings from being sued by persons against whom the judicial proceedings were brought. The current lack of legal protection deters victims...

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Rape Results in Estimated 32,101 Pregnancies Yearly

5% of rape victims of reproductive age (12-45) can become pregnant as a result of a rape, resulting in an estimated 32,101 pregnancies each year. Unwanted pregnancy: 5% of rape victims of reproductive age (12 to 45) can become pregnancy as a result of rape, resulting in an estimated 32,101 pregnancies each year, most occurring among adolescents and resulting from assault by a known, often related perpetator. The risk of pregnancy may increase when the assailant is an intimate partner.  There is a risk of poor pregnancy outcomes when a woman is pregnant at the time of the rape. SOLUTIONS Take Action Contact Your Elected Representatives Pressure on politicians matters. Find your state representative – click here Find your congressional representative – click here Become a County Leader Take the lead in your community. Source for all of the info shared above:...

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960,000 Will Experience Rape

The NISVS reported that during a woman’s lifetime in Pennsylvania, 18.8% or 960,000 will experience rape, and 2.3 million women will be subjected to sexual violence other than rape. Until recently, no surveys reported the prevalence of rape in Pennsylvania. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) report estimates that in Pennsylvania 18.8% or 960,000 women were raped, and that 45.3 percent or 2.3 million women are subjected to sexual violence other than rape. The only other available Pennsylvania-specific data relate to those who report to police or who seek counseling services from Pennsylvania’s sexual assault service providers. Under the federal Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) system, police reporting of crime data is voluntary. However, in 2004, Pennsylvania created the Pennsylvania UCR Program, which requires local, county, and state police authorities to submit monthly crime statistics to the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), and requires the PSP to publicly report such data on an annual basis. SOLUTIONS Take Action Contact Your Elected Representatives Pressure on politicians matters. Find your state representative – click here Find your congressional representative – click here Become a County Leader Take the lead in your community. Source for all of the info shared above:...

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Sexual Assault May Include Physical Injuries

Physical consequences of sexual assault may include physical injuries, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), chronic pain, gynecological problems, and unwanted pregnancy. The physical consequences of sexual assault may include: Physical injuries: 31.5% of women victims incur an injury in addition to the rape itself, victims also suffer minor scratches, bruises and welts, broken bones, dislocated joints, sore muscles, sprains, strains, chipped or broken teeth, knife wounds, internal injuries, and loss of consciousness. Studies find an elevated prevalence of STIs among survivors of sexual violence. Chronic pain, headaches, and stomach problems. Gynecological problems: Common consequences of forced sex include vaginal bleeding, genital irritation, pain during menstruation, and sexual dysfunction. SOLUTIONS Take Action Contact Your Elected Representatives Pressure on politicians matters. Find your state representative – click here Find your congressional representative – click here Become a County Leader Take the lead in your community. Source for all of the info shared above:...

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13% of Rape Victims Attempt Suicide

The rate of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is three times greater among women who were raped as children; 13% of rape victims attempt suicide. PTSD, Depression, and Other Mental Health Problems: Nearly one-third of rape victims develop PTSD; the rate of PTSD is three times greater among women who were raped as children.  One-third of victims experience major depression in their lifetime.  Victims of sexual assault by someone they know tend to experience more severe psychological stress due to self-blame.  Victims of drug and alcohol facilitated rape also have an increased risk of PTSD, major depression, and substance use disorders. Among other mental health problems, 13% of rape victims attempt suicide. Sexual abuse is significantly associated with the development of addictions in women.  Research suggests that some survivors of sexual assault may self-medicate to deal with the depression or anxiety resulting from the assault.  Rape victims are more likely to use illicit drugs and prescription drugs for non-medical reasons than non-victims.  One study found that 73% of the sixty women interviewed in a residential substance abuse treatment facility had been raped, and 45% had been raped more than once. Sexual assault survivors may also experience eating disorders:  26.6% of women with bulimia nervosa were raped at some point in their lives. SOLUTIONS Take Action Contact Your Elected Representatives Pressure on politicians matters. Find your state representative – click here Find your congressional representative – click here Become a County Leader Take the lead in your community. Source for all of the info shared above:...

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One-Fifth of Rape Victims Receive Care

Only about one-fifth of rape victims receive post-rape medical care. Only about one-fifth of rape victims receive post-rape medical care.  Research also shows that only 11.7% of women who got pregnant as a result of rape received immediate medical attention, while 47.1% received no rape-related medical attention. To the extent that someone reports the crime, her first source of medical care may be the emergency department to which she is transported by the police after they respond to a call for assistance.  In some cities, there may be a specific forensic unit established for sexual assault victims; Philadelphia has established such a unit to save traumatized victims from the long waits for treatment they would experience in busy urban emergency departments. Other cities, like Doylestown, instruct police to take victims of sexual assault to designated hospital emergency departments.  At the medical facility, survivors receive treatment for injuries, a forensic exam, treatment for STIs, and emergency contraception. Sometimes this care is provided by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE Nurse), who is specially trained.  If a SANE nurse is not on staff, a hospital may call one to come in and perform the exam.  In addition, the emergency department may have a relationship with a local sexual assault advocacy agency, which may provide an advocate to assist the survivor, at her request. Many victims do not seek assistance; studies show that only 14-43% of survivors seek help from such services.   SOLUTIONS Take Action Contact Your Elected Representatives Pressure on politicians matters. Find your state representative – click here Find your congressional representative – click here Become a County Leader Take the lead in your community. Source for all of the info shared above:...

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Solutions for Sexual Assault

To effectively combat rape and sexual assault in the U.S., an integrated response system and services infrastructure is required. Health Care Health care providers must screen for sexual assault. Services should be trauma-informed (respectful of patients as survivors, maximizing survivor control over recovery, respecting need for safety, emphasizing strengths, minimizing re-traumatization, and providing culturally competent services). Funding for sexual assault programs should be increased to provide more immediate and long-term support for victims of sexual assault. Insurers should be required to cover treatment of sexual trauma as a reimbursable mental health service. Law Enforcement The FBI should proceed with all deliberate speed to implement the change in the definition of rape in the Uniform Crime report so that accurate data about the true incidence of serious sex crimes can be reported to the public and appropriate resources directed to combat this violent crime. Leadership organizations such as the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), and the National Sheriffs’ Association must identify systemic gender bias in the handling of sex crimes and take steps to ensure local police authorities have effective policies, procedures, and training programs to improve their response to sex crimes. Local, State and federal police authorities should adopt policies that require full documentation and investigation of sex crime complaints, prohibit polygraphs, and require supervisory review for proper crime classification and unfounding. Local, state, and federal police authorities should implement training programs on victim behavior, interview techniques, and how to respond to victims of sexual assault. Pennsylvania General Assembly In 2012 Pennsylvania adopted a new law which allows for expert testimony in criminal cases involving sexual offenses. This law permits the prosecution or the defense to call experts who, because of their “experience with, or specialized training or education in, criminal justice, behavioral sciences or victim services,” can help juries and judges understand “the dynamics of sexual violence, victim responses to sexual violence and the impact of sexual violence on victims during and after being assaulted.” More resources must be allocated to victim services to increase the availability of counseling and advocacy services, free pregnancy counseling, and confidential testing for HIV/AIDs and...

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