The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Sexual assaults often go unreported

With more than 60 percent of the student population at UW-Eau Claire being female, sexual assault is an inescapable issue every student needs to be aware of.

In 1998, there were 6,056 sexual assaults reported to the police in Wisconsin. Eighty-three percent of the victims were female, and someone known by the victim perpetrated 93 percent of the assaults. Only about 16 percent of sexual assaults are reported, said Julie Kennedy-Oehlert, a sexual assault nurse examiner at Sacred Heart Hospital. She added that one in four women and one in seven men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

The university is not ignoring this issue. The Student Life and Diversity Commission of the Student Senate has arranged for speakers from Planned Parenthood to talk to students and has arranged for Keela Johnson, a sexual assault victims service coordinator from the Family Support Center, to speak with students, said Jenny Andrashko, a member of the commission.

“People need to understand this is real,” said Andrashko, adding that she thinks this is a bigger problem in a college town like Eau Claire.

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The university offers help for victims through Counseling Services. Students can speak with counselors about their experience and counselors can offer advice on how to get through the aftermath. Counseling Services offers tips on its Web site ( for people who are victims or others who want to know more.

Sexual assault is defined as “the intentional unwanted touching of a person’s intimate parts for the purpose of sexually degrading or humiliating the victim, or to sexually arouse the person making the offensive contact,” according to Counseling Services.

“I think much of it goes unreported because of some misunderstanding of what it is,” said Robin Abraham, a counselor at Counseling Services. Abraham said victims often feel a sense of shame or guilt, and wrongly blame themselves.

“Any sort of unwanted sexual contact is an offense,” said Kennedy-Oehlert.

She said it is important for victims to report the offenses.

“Men who rape, rape until they’re caught,” Kennedy-Oehlert said.

She said that reporting the offenders could also give the victim a sense of power back. Once the victim is placed in the system, they can get care such as counseling, STD prophylactics and the morning-after pill, she added.

The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program at Sacred Heart Hospital recommends that victims not bathe, shower, brush their teeth, change their clothes or go to the bathroom before they come to the hospital.

The program also offers advice for victims saying, “Follow your instincts and do whatever it takes to survive.”

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Sexual assaults often go unreported