Let’s talk about it: Spreading awareness about sexual assault, domestic violence and harassment on Boise State’s campus

Trigger Warning: Sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, harassment and rape. 

24-Hour Sexual Assault Hotline: 208.345.7273 

24-Hour Domestic Abuse Hotline: 208.343.7025

According to the Women and Children Alliance’s (WCA) website, about one in four women and one in 10 men have experienced sexual assault, physical abuse or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime. 

[Photo of a statue outside the Women & Children’s Alliance in downtown Boise.]
Photo by Abbey Nimegeers | The Arbiter

Sexual assault, rape, stalking and domestic violence occur frequently on college campuses across the nation. According to an article by Healing Abuse Working for Change (HAWC), women ages 16-24 have the highest per capita rate of intimate partner violence. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), women ages 18-24 and in college are three times more likely to experience sexual violence than women in other age groups.

Students at Boise State have received multiple Bronco Alerts about incidences of sexual assault happening within the past year. 

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, every six out of 1,000 people are victims of rape or sexual assault on college campuses. In about 80% of those cases, the offender was someone the victim knew.

Victims are not statistical numbers, but someone’s friend, family, roommate, classmate or coworker that has suffered from an abusive situation. According to the WCA, the biggest way to help put an end to domestic violence, sexual assault and abuse is awareness. Prioritizing resources available to victims of violence and understanding the signs of an unhealthy relationship can save a victim’s life. 

Refusing to be another statistic

Out of 1,000 cases of sexual assault, only 230 are reported to the police, according to The Criminal Justice System statistics. This means that three out of four cases of sexual assault go unreported and their perpetrators will walk free.

Tana Monroe is the director of Security and Event Operations at Boise State. Monroe oversees security, event parking, compliance and crime analysis units within the Department of Public Safety. 

She is also a member of the university’s CARE (Campus, Assessment, Resource, Education) Team and works closely with the campus threat assessment.

“It is important to spread awareness about these crimes because there might be a person out there who doesn’t know where to go or what to do in these situations,” Monroe said. “Additionally, you might know someone in one of these relationships and want to be able to provide them support.”

Boise State’s 2020 crime log cited seven cases of harassment/stalking, three cases of sexual assault/rape, one case of aggravated assault, two cases of lewd conduct and one case of domestic violence. 

The crime log cited 20 accounts of battery in some type of form on and around Boise State’s campus in 2020. However, these cases are not specified in the log. 

“I would love to be able to see these types of cases eliminated entirely but I don’t know how realistic that goal is,” Monroe said. “With that in mind, education surrounding these crimes is important. People need to know where to report and what resources are available.”

A resource that the Department of Public Safety offers is a silent witness form. This allows anyone who has access to the Boise State website freedom to report a crime they witnessed, either anonymously or they can give their contact information if needed. 

Boise State also provides students the Rave Guardian app, a free mobile safety app allowing students with a Boise State email address to report or contact campus security. If a student is walking through campus or downtown and feels unsafe, the app also has a safety timer that will notify public safety of the student’s location. 

Students, faculty and staff also have the ability to request a security escort by calling 208-426-6911. 

Graphic by The Arbiter

Abusive relationships can impact anyone, anywhere

Title IX’s 1065 policy is a federal civil rights law passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972. At Boise State University, Title IX became effective on campus in April 2014. This law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities.

Title IX states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

As the Interim Director of Title IX Compliance, Danielle Charters is in charge of preventing, intervening, responding to and remedying gender-based harassment and violence within the Boise State community.

Abuse can occur to anyone anywhere regardless of age, gender, race, religion, socioeconomic status or education level. 

“Relationship violence impacts people of all identities and ages,” Charters said. “People that engage in abusive behaviors often target individuals that they can easily isolate or don’t have those strong support systems which can create barriers for their partner to seek help or exit the relationship. College is often a time when students are away from home for the first time and may lack a strong support system.”

According to the WCA, there are five types of abuse: physical, sexual, emotional/verbal, economic and digital. 

Some characteristics of an abuser include emotional dependence on a partner, displays of violence or aggression towards other people, losing temper easily, gaslighting, restricting partner’s time with friends or family and getting jealous easily.

The important thing to remember is that abuse is never the victim’s fault, according to the WCA’s website. 

“In order to end all forms of gender-based violence, we must address the root causes of violence which stem from systems of oppression,” Charters said.

Why do people stay in toxic relationships?

Although there are resources for victims of abuse to receive help, there are many reasons why victims stay with their abusers. No-cost services for Idaho residents through the WCA include a 24/7 hotline (208-343-7025), counseling, support groups, court advocacy, emergency and transitional shelter and case management services to connect individuals with additional resources.

According to the WCA, some reasons why people stay in toxic relationships are out of fear that their abuser will hurt them more if they leave, hope that their abuser will change, a responsibility to the family which could involve children or even religious beliefs, a stigma that the victim is the cause of the abusers’ actions and financial dependency on a partner. 

The WCA is a sacred organization that provides services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. According to their website, their vision is to “Foster a community where individuals thrive in safe, healthy relationships.”

Unlike some other cities, Boise has a WCA located in the heart of downtown. It was originally established in 1910 as the Young Women’s Christian Association, but in 1996 converted into the Women and Children’s Alliance. 

Although the name of the organization has changed over the years, its mission of providing a safe space for women has remained the same. 

The focus of the WCA for the month of March 2021 is “change happens here”. 

“Amazing change happens at the WCA,” said CEO Bea Black in a youtube video on their website. “We are so fortunate to be able to be a part of change for individuals when they feel that the time is right for them.”

The WCA does not only provide services for women and children, but also for men, the LGBTQIA+ community and teens. More information about the services they offer can be located on the WCA website

Looking to spread awareness on Boise State’s campus

The Alpha Chi Omega Epsilon Nu chapter at Boise State directly supports the WCA all while promoting domestic violence awareness. 

Several times throughout the year, Alpha Chi Omega holds events such as the Lyre Game during their philanthropy week, the Mr. Alpha Chi sorority sweetheart competition and promotions through social media to raise awareness about domestic violence. Through these events, the chapter also raises money that directly supports the WCA.

“The Women and Children’s Alliance here in Boise is something that is so special for our chapter,” said Alpha Chi Omega President Kaitlyn Minnehan. “Having a philanthropy that is local means so much to our members, as they can see directly where the funds we raise go. It is so special to be able to see the difference that we are making in our own community. Being able to support a cause that means so much to each of our members is so empowering.”

Donations to the WCA help victims of domestic violence or sexual assault get back on their feet. The money also helps run the WCA which houses, feeds and assists victims who have fled from their abuser. 

In 2021, the week of Feb. 7-13 was known as Healthy Relationships Week. The goal of the week is to spread awareness about fostering healthy and safe relationships all while providing resources to victims of abuse. The week is celebrated every year in February right before Valentine’s Day. 

Minnehan believes that a way to put an end to abuse on Boise State’s campus is to have conversations about it. She says that many people are blind to this issue and that domestic violence awareness is extremely important, especially to college students.

Women between the ages of 18 to 24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner, so having these conversations and making this topic a priority on college campuses would help limit the number of abuse cases that occur, according to Minnehan. 

Although Boise State offers resources to students, faculty and staff, raising more awareness about the resources and allowing victims to be seen, heard and valued will begin to put an end to domestic violence and sexual assault on campus. 

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