The Reality of Rape

By: Brock Bergey Email
By: Brock Bergey Email

Stranger-danger is top of mind after the recent UW student attacks. But, statistics show the true threat lies elsewhere. One in four women will know what it's like to be sexually assaulted--as many as 90-percent will know their attacker.

"The image we have in our heads is that stranger that grabs you off the streets or breaks into your home," says Kelly Anderson.

Anderson is the Executive Director of the Rape Crisis Center of Dane County. She says most times the person carrying out the assault is an acquaintance or even a trusted friend.

"It's very hard to understand why someone would do this to another person, why they would force themselves sexually upon somebody who wasn't willing," says Anderson.

She says the recent attacks involving UW students brings the issue of rape to the forefront. But, she calls the recent news coverage a double-edged sword.

"That helps skew the public perception, both of where the real danger is and of whether or not what happened to me as a victim counts," Anderson says.

Anderson says she's not trying to downplay the campus attacks--she calls them a community problem. However, she says the numbers show students are more likely to be assaulted by a friend than a stranger.

"What we know from experience is often that male friend who is really insistent on walking you home and not leaving you alone, comes in and forces himself on you, she says.

Last year, 43 sexual assaults involving college students were reported in Madison. 19 happened on campus. The numbers might seem low, but Anderson estimates 90-percent of rapes go unreported.

"So most people are never getting into the system through law enforcement, so what we're counting on is that they hear our number, know we're here and call and connect to get the help that they need," concludes Anderson.

The number to call for help is 251-RAPE (7273) Trained counselors are standing by 24-hours a day, 7-days a week to answer your questions or simply listen.

RCC averages about 100 calls a month.

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