Story by Yesenia Gonzalez
Photo by JaNae Williams
Every 98 seconds, someone in America is sexually assaulted, according to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. Domestic abuse and sexual assault can happen to anyone, male or female. There are resources available for students who may be experiencing abuse, sexual harassment or other forms of mistreatment.
Websites and apps offer information, while licensed counselors and human resource department personnel can offer emotional and legal guidance, respectively. Rose State offers free, confidential counseling services for currently enrolled students, faculty and staff. Students, including concurrent students and college personnel can also file a report with the Human Resources office if an incident is related to Rose State.
There are often warning signs that precede abuse. Possessiveness, over-controlling behaviors and wanting to keep a person to themselves may seem flattering in the beginning but eventually become isolating, according to Director of Special Services Dr. Joanne Stafford. Potentially abusive partners may also exhibit jealousy toward others, check personal messages, manipulate a partner into doing uncomfortable things and make a partner feel guilty when partaking in unapproved activities.
“Sometimes people work to ignore; ‘oh, he really didn’t mean to say that; it wasn’t so bad, he was angry.’ Just because someone is angry doesn’t give them the right to physically or verbally abuse you,” Stafford said.
Title IX is part of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination on campuses that receive federal funding. There are Title IX coordinators on campus who handle sexual misconduct allegations. Bertie Nutter is the senior director of Human Resources and there are two deputy Title IX coordinators on campus: Erin Logan, the student conduct officer, and Alyssa Loveless, the director for residence life. All other college employees and staff members are required to report incidents of which they become aware. Concurrent students on Rose State’s campus are also covered by Rose State policies. While the Human Resources office offers privacy when handling reports of alleged sexual misconduct, only a licensed counselor, such as Stafford, can offer confidentiality if a student wants emotional support without pursuing legal action.
“We don’t require immediate [reporting],” Nutter said. “Our policy does say we want that complaint within 180 days. After that, witnesses, evidence, information that we would need to conduct a proper investigation starts drying up.”
A student can still file a report with local police after the 180-day deadline to report an incident that occurred on campus or with another Rose State student or staff member.
“Standard of evidence [requirement] for Title IX to determine that someone is responsible for sexual misconduct is preponderance of the evidence, so we review all of the information that’s available and we have to determine and qualify it,” Nutter said. “[A] certified investigator has to look at all of that and determine, ‘is it more or less likely that the behavior occurred?’ and it can be 50/50 with just one side [more compelling] ... So [local law enforcement] has a higher standard of evidence that they have to adhere to.”
Careful analysis of evidence secures that anyone being victimized is protected. A thorough investigation ensures that there are no false or misleading accusations. False police reports can be charged as felonies or misdemeanors, depending on which jurisdiction the report was filed in. According to Stafford, students should have a plan of action if they choose to move forward with reporting an incident. One of the first steps a student should take to ensure their safety is to find a place to live that is away from the perpetrator. Then, a person can file a victim’s protective order with local law enforcement. The VPO makes it illegal for the offender to be in the same area as the victim. There may be some clauses in the order which vary on a case-by-case basis.
There are multiple resources on campus and in the community to guide students experiencing sexual misconduct or domestic abuse. An extensive list of resources can be found under community resources at rose.edu. Any institution receiving federal funding, including public elementary and high schools, provides a way to file reports.