National Indian Country Clearinghouse on Sexual Assault

SORNA

 

Sexual Violence Against American Indian/Alaska Native Students on Campus

 

Women on college campuses experience a much higher incidence of sexual violence than the general population in the United States.

 

Approximately one in four college women have been raped or have suffered an attempted rape.   In a recent survey, half of men enrolled in college reported that they had engaged in some form of sexual aggression on a date.  More often than not, the victim of on-campus sexual violence is familiar with the perpetrator of the crime.

 

Campus sexual violence spans all demographics, but particularly affects American Indian/Alaska Native students. While it can be challenging to collect data about sexual violence on college campuses, a 2006 survey at Haskell Indian Nations University (a university for American Indian and Alaskan Native Students located in Lawrence, Kansas), revealed that the rate of sexual assault crimes surpassed all other crimes committed on that campus.  At Haskell, the crime of sexual assault was committed at a rate three times higher than any other crime. 

 

Campus sexual violence spans all demographics, but particularly affects American Indian/Alaska Native students. While it can be challenging to collect data about sexual violence on college campuses, a 2006 survey at Haskell Indian Nations University (a university for American Indian and Alaskan Native Students located in Lawrence, Kansas), revealed that the rate of sexual assault crimes surpassed all other crimes committed on that campus.  At Haskell, the crime of sexual assault was committed at a rate three times higher than any other crime.  

 

These statistics are consistent with those from other college campuses attended by American Indian/Alaska Native women. Young women from tribal communities may be far from home, isolated from friends and families, unfamiliar with an urban environment, and surrounded by people from different cultures. Alcohol and drugs may also be more widely available than in their home communities.  Perpetrators often stalk and/or select victims that they perceive as vulnerable. A sexual assault perpetrator may supply his victims with alcohol and/or drugs in order to make the victims more defenseless. Groups of college men may encourage binge drinking at parties to render potential victims helpless against multiple perpetrator sexual violence.

Date rape drugs (such as Rohypnol, Ketamine, or GHB) may also be administered to victims to facilitate the crime.

 

The majority of American Indian/Alaska Native victims do not report when they have been raped on college campuses.


The same factors that may make Native students more vulnerable to sexual violence can also affect a victim’s decision whether or not to report the crime. Isolation and unfamiliarity with the new community, fear that they may somehow be blamed for the sexual assault, embarrassment, shame, misunderstanding that rape can only be committed by a stranger or that it can only be accomplished by physical force, mistrust of the dominant culture or of the criminal justice system, and fear of reprisals all can affect the victim’s decision whether to report the crime.

 

Students on Campus

 

Services for sexual assault victims on non- Tribal College campuses may not be culturally sensitive to the needs of American Indian/Alaska Native victims. Victims of sexual assaults committed on Tribal College campuses may be forced to navigate a jurisdictional maze in accessing the criminal and civil justice systems. Tribal Colleges are frequently physically located on tribal or on federal lands. Determination of the proper prosecutorial and investigative authorities is crucial in bringing accountability to perpetrators and justice for victims of crimes of sexual violence committed on campus.

 

In the vast majority of cases, almost 90%, the perpetrator is a friend or classmate of the victim.

 

It is important to remember that “date rape” is sexual assault, even if the victim is dating the perpetrator or has had consensual sexual contact with him in the past.  To be okay, each instance of sexual contact must be accompanied by consent.


“Date rape” can be very traumatic for teens.  Since the victim likely already knows the perpetrator, the victim first has to deal with the violation of trust involved in this evil act.  Also, the victim may face peer pressure to not get the perpetrator into “trouble.”  When the perpetrators of these crimes are high-school aged, they can get expelled from school and put into jail for their behaviors.  Although these are clear consequences for bad behavior, many of the victim’s peers wrongfully place the crux of blame on the victim, blaming the victim’s report of the perpetrator’s behavior for the perpetrator’s adverse consequences.

Teens are also likely to become victms of sexual abuse through child pornography.

 

Often, pedophiles will force teens to pose for inappropriate videos and pictures against their will.  Also, many teens will take pictures of themselves with their cell phone, laptop, or camera, and send them to their boyfriends or girlfriends.  When the couple breaks up, the scorned party sends out the picture to all of the victim’s peers in order to embarrass her.  Regardless of the situation, victimization through child pornography is very traumatic for teens.  If a victim is a victim of child pornography, she is re-assaulted, re-victimized, re-embarrassed, and reinjured every time a new person looks at the pornography.


Overall, teens face many adverse consequences to sexual assault.  A teen that is sexually assaulted is more likely to engage in risky behavior, more likely to drop out of high school, more likely to be suicidal, and more likely to suffer from teen pregnancy than her peers are.  As if this is not enough, 54% of women who are raped after the age of 18 were sexually abused before they turned 18.  Thus, a teenaged victim is much more likely than the general population to be a victim of sexual violence again in the future.

 

 

Tribal Colleges and SA Services

 

This document, created by the Southwest Center for Law and Policy details sexual assault services near Tribal colleges and their campuses in the United States.

 

A College Student's Guide to Safety Planning

 

This document, authored and distributed by Love is Respect Dot Org, discusses effective safety planning for victims enrolled in colleges and universities.

 

Social Networking Safety

 

This document, authored and distributed by www.loveisrespect.com discusses effective safety planning for victims utilizing social media.

 

 

 

National Indian Country Clearinghouse on Sexual Assault, a project by the Southwest Center for Law and Policy © 2017

This project was supported by  Grant No. 2011-TA-AX-K045 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women. Points of view in this document are those of the author and do not necessary represent the official position of the U.S. Department of Justice. All rights reserved. | Privacy policy   Login