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Ole Miss Groups Work Together Against Sexual Assault

At the University of Mississippi, the number of reported sexual assaults and rapes has recently risen.
“I wouldn’t say there are more sexual assaults taking place, but we are getting more reports of those,” said University Police Chief Tim Potts.
Potts says UPD reported 13 sexual assaults between August 1 and April 21 but also says that assaults are one of the most under reported crimes that take place.
“When I last looked in some of the areas I look for statistics, they’ll say that for every one sexual assault that’s reported, 10 go unreported,” said Potts. “Sometimes people want to try to put that in the past, and sometimes even their friends will guilt a person into not reporting. People just don’t want to deal with it all.”

Sexual Assault
Source: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention 

More than one campus group is trying to make things easier for victims.
“The Sexual Assault Support Group (SAS) is a group aimed to support women who have experienced some type of sexual assault,” said Carmen Lewis, a university counselor. “It’s open to undergraduate, graduate and professional students, and it gives them space to talk about their sexual assault and get support from other women who’ve also been sexually assaulted.”
Lewis says says people who have been assaulted may find their relationships suffering or get into academic trouble, among other challenges.
“Sometimes it impacts their way of coping. We may see an increase in substance abuse, so we usually just give them open forum to discuss whatever.”
The campus is also home to a student-led organization called Rebels Against Sexual Assault (RASA).

RASA holds “Nacho Fault” a lecture in which they talked about how sexual assault is not the victim’s fault. Photo Credit: Emily L. Davis.

“RASA is a registered student organization that aims to raise awareness about the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses, educate students about affirmative consent and support survivors,” said Corbin Smith, the RASA president.
Smith says the group provides peer education to those interested in learning about the rules of consent and bystander intervention.  RASA has made presentations to those involved in Greek life, Honors 101 and other classes.
“I think RASA provides a space where all survivors know they are not alone and have others who support them. However, everyone in RASA isn’t necessarily a survivor, but it is something we all care about,” Smith said.
Part of the “Nacho Fault” lecture was that tacos were served to anyone who attended the lecture. Photo Credit: Emily L. Davis.

If someone on campus wants to report a sexual assault or rape without getting the police involved, they can go to the Title IX Office in Martindale Hall on campus.
The University Police Department also works very closely with the Violence Prevention Office on campus to make sure that anyone who suffers sexual assault on campus can get the counseling or any other help they may need.

Tim Potts, Chief of Police at The University of Mississippi, talks about sexual assault on campus. Carmen Lewis, a University Counseling Center Counselor, and Lavina Ho, a PH. D graduate student who works in the counseling center, talk about Sexual Assault Support (SAS) Group for women, and how they help those who have been sexually assaulted to come to terms with what has happened to them.
Story produced by Emily L. Davis, elguess@go.olemiss.edu.

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