New confidential voicemail available for rape victims

U officials activated a new confidential voicemail system Nov. 16 for students to report sexual abuse in the Residence Halls.

The new system is the end result of a collaboration of campus groups including the Women’s Resource Center, Housing Residential Education and the Dean of Students’ office.

According to the 2005 Campus Safety Report, six forcible sex offenses were reported last year, a number that doubled from 2003.

“Whether it’s more or less, it doesn’t matter,” said Tami Harris, residential education coordinator. “It happens, and it happens enough that it’s something that we need to be ready to support and provide resources to students for.”

The Sexual/Domestic Violence and Intimate Partner Violence Confidential Voicemail is intended for the estimated 20 to 25 percent of women who will be raped during their college career. Almost half of those victims do not tell anyone about the assault, according to Connections, a bi-annual education journal.

Rape is an underreported crime that involves a lot of different factors that keep people from reaching out for help, Harris said.

The voicemail is intended for students living on campus and is run by people in their community.

People can call the confidential line at 587-2970 and will be sent straight to the voicemail. They can say as much or as little information as they want about themselves or the situation that involved them or somebody else.

“It provides a lot of freedom for that individual to choose what they want to disclose,” Harris said.

The line will be checked every 24 hours by somebody who is trained in working with people with issues of sexual assault and domestic violence.

Students can use the line to get questions answered or to learn about different resources or options before coming forward and actually talking to somebody.

“One of the things we wanted to do with this phone line is begin to be able to start tracking information in a confidential way,” said Debra Daniels, director of the Women’s Resource Center.

Harris said the line is not for emergencies or requests for immediate response, but it will provide phone numbers students can call for immediate assistance, such as the Rape Crisis Line.

The voicemail is not just intended for victims of rape or sexual assault; it is also for victims of domestic and intimate partner violence.

“If we have one person who is suffering in an abusive relationship, I want that person to have some place where they can go,” Daniels said.

If the service is well utilized, officials plan to bring the service to lower campus.

For more information about the line, contact Housing Residential Education at 587-2002 or the Women’s Resource Center at 581-8030.

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