A hidden menace at Portland State

There is a problem at Portland State that can affect as many as 435 female students in an academic year. The problem is domestic and sexual violence, and every student can help stop it from happening.

There is a problem at Portland State that can affect as many as 435 female students in an academic year. The problem is domestic and sexual violence, and every student can help stop it from happening.

One of the main problems with domestic and sexual violence is that it often goes unreported.

The National Institute of Justice found—in surveys that relied on self-reports, not crime reports—that 3 percent of all college women become victims of either completed or attempted rape in a given nine-month academic year.

That number translates to 30 women in 1,000, or approximately 435 women at Portland State.

“The WRC looks at dating violence and sexual violence as connected issues,” said Jessica Amo, assistant coordinator of the Women’s Resource Center.

The focus is what happens on campus.

The Interpersonal Violence Prevention and Advocacy Program at the WRC provided services to 85 students between June 2008 and June 2009. According to the WRC, students reported stalking, harassment, landlord/roommate problems and dating and sexual assault.

In June 2009, the Sexual Assault on College Campuses Senior Capstone class conducted an informal, non-scientific survey at Portland State of primarily first- and second-year students. At least 12 percent answered affirmatively in response to the statement, “I have been sexually assaulted in my time as a college student.”

“Traditionally, female college students between the ages of 18 and 21 have higher numbers of relationship violence and sexual assault,” said Adrienne Graf, a graduate assistant who is an advocate for the interpersonal violence program at the WRC.

All students are welcome to come to the WRC for aid in interpersonal violence issues, regardless of gender.
Everyone can take action to stop dating and sexual violence before it happens through training, resources and support to help students understand the dynamics of sexual violence.

Help is always available to students, not just during October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
WRC advocates are ready to aid students from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and are partnered with the Women’s Crisis Line for help after hours and on weekends.

The Center for Student Health and Counseling can provide ongoing counseling for emotional support, assessment of personal safety and medical care.

Besides listening, WRC advocates help students navigate the campus system. Other resources available to students include: Residence Life, which can assist with changes in living conditions, the Office of Student Affairs, which investigates student conduct code violations and Student Legal Services. Students can also file anonymous report forms.

The WRC does not push students to take court action.

What can students do?
Educate yourself about interpersonal violence awareness.

Look at relationships within your own life to be sure consent is present.

Support friends or classmates who might be involved in an interpersonal violence situation.

Ask questions if you suspect a friend or classmate has encountered an act of interpersonal violence.

If a student confides an act of interpersonal violence has taken place, believe them.

Express concern to that student.

Ask what you can do to be helpful.

Let the student make his or her own decision and support it.

Help connect the student to the right resources such as the WRC or SHAC.

Important numbers and info:
WRC 503-725-5672

SHAC 503-725-2800 

OHSU sexual assault evidence collection 503-494-7551

Women’s Crisis Line 503-235-5333, toll free 888-235-5333

CPSO emergency 503-725-4407, non-emergency 503-725-4407

Other campus resources are listed by the WRC online through www.wrc.pdx.edu

“I want students to know there are resources here on campus to support your safety,” Amo said.

Upcoming event
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Students can attend “Roots of Change: Men, Sex and Justice” October 28–30 in the Smith Memorial Student Union Ballroom to find out more about how to prevent sexual violence before it occurs.
Workshops will address a broad range of issues pertaining to men and masculinity and the prevention of sexual violence. 
Information for scholarships to attend the $25 event is available at sati.oregonsatf.org/roots.html