Reported assaults jump 123 percent

By Sylvia Phillips

Statistics documenting sexual assaults at NIU revealed most incidents occurred between acquaintances and involved individuals drinking alcohol, according to a report released Friday.

In 1986, 13 incidents were reported to SART. However, in 1987, students reported 31 sexual assaults and abuses to SART. The difference in figures represents a 123 percent increase in cases.

However, NIU personnel believe the increased responses probably do not indicate more assaults.

Of 1987 cases, two had occurred in 1985. Most assaults occurred in the fall, with 11 taking place in September. This differs from 1986 statistics, in which students reported the majority of assaults occurred in April.

“When there is a change in numbers (of assaults), it’s hard to know whether this is due to a better awareness on the part of students or whether it’s because of an increase (in incidents),” Jon Dalton, vice president for student affairs, said.

Sharon Howard, director of the office of university resources for women and member of the Sexual Assault Task Force, attributes the increase in cases reported to greater public awareness of the issue.

Howard also attributed the apparent increase in incidents to the broad definition of sexual assault.

Sexual assault includes sexual abuse (unwanted touching), acquaintance rape and physical assault, according to SART.

According to the SART report, 24 of the 29 cases that occurred in 1987 involved acquaintance rape. One of the victims had previously dated her assailant.

“A high relationship exists between incidents of alcohol use and abuse and sexual assault,” Dalton said.

Seventeen offenders drank alcohol prior to the incidents. Alcohol intake was unknown in 12 cases. Two offenders were reported as not using alcohol.

The report also indicated many of the victims had been drinking when assaulted. Eighteen of the 29 victims said they had been drinking prior to the incident.

Of these, two victims had consumed so much alcohol they were unconscious or asleep during the incidents.

The SART report said eight victims had not been drinking, and three either did not answer or were not asked this question.

Information compiled from the 1987 report indicated men were the offenders in all instances.

In 28 of the 29 examples that occurred in 1987, women were the victims of sexual assault. One male was the victim of sexual abuse. Also, two of the cases involved sexual assaults by two males.

Twenty cases occurred in the residence halls. Five cases were reported as occurring in fraternity and sorority houses, and four incidents took place in off-campus locations.

Physical force was used in six cases. In four cases, use of force was undeterminable, the report stated.

Fourteen victims declined police or judicial assistance, seven victims filed police reports, eight victims filed judicial office reports and two victims received assistance from both University Police and the judicial office.