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By Mary Fan
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 11, 1997

Program helps sexual assault victims

Victims of sexual or violent assault have a confidential recourse to reporting the crime through the Centralized Confidential Report Form.

The form may be filled out anonymously or victims may give their name and number.

Forms are available through the Oasis Center for Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence and may also be obtained through the Employee Assistance Program or the Campus Health Center.

The victim reports never leave the Oasis Center office. The police department is not contacted unless the victim wishes.

Counselors at the Oasis Center will help victims who give their names decide on their legal options. Victims are also provided with referrals to counselors and services that provide confidential testing for pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.

Information from the reports is also compiled to gain insight into the incidence of sexual and violent assault on campus.

"It is a way for us on campus to have a more accurate understanding of the incidence of both past and present incidents of sexual assault and violence affecting our community," Anderson said.

To assault victims, the confidential forms can seem less threatening than reporting the assault to authorities, said Irene Anderson, director of the Oasis Center.

"Confidentiality is really useful in getting trust, and trust is one of the things lost in a rape," said Christine Delarbre, women's studies junior and volunteer at the Oasis Center.

Dance sophomore Jennifer Grendon recalled several uncomfortable situations she was in during her freshman year. She never reported them.

"I should have reported them, but I felt responsible," Grendon said.

She said that while she did not feel comfortable reporting the situations to the police department, she might have felt more secure filling out a confidential report form.

Anderson said victims often feel responsible for assaults, though they should not, and the promise of confidentiality often draws more reports from victims leery of reporting crimes to the police department.

She noted this is dramatically illustrated in the contrast between the 70 reports of sexual assault the Oasis Center received last year and the one report on file at the University of Arizona Police Department.

Harry Hueston II, chief of UAPD said, "That's a reflection of what our society has done in driving victims from reporting this crime to the police."

Hueston said that victims of sexual assault and relationship violence often fear being judged and running the gamut of personal, sexual and power issues that are often raised in court consideration of sexual assault cases. They also fear airing out intensely private issues publicly.

Freshman Marley White said she felt this was true.

"If you go to the police you draw attention to yourself and it's just too public," she said.

This fear often causes some assaults to remain unreported for years.

Assaults reported on the confidential form may be current or years old. Some of the reports filed describe assaults dating back as far as 18 years.

"A past incident can still affect current relationships and academic life," Anderson said.

Hueston said that despite these fears, filing reports with the police department is very important in gaining justice and making sure that offenders are held accountable - so there is not a repetition of the victimization.

Psychology sophomore Alyssa Jackson agrees.

"If someone attacks me, I want him to be caught," Jackson said.

Creative writing freshman Julie Bihn said, "I'd rather go to the police because then maybe they would get the guy."

Ultimately, the decision to report or not to report belongs to the victim, Hueston said.

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