A female Pitt-Greensburg student reported forcible rape on Jan. 16 that occurred in Sept. 2015. Chief of Police Daniel Lynch declined to answer any questions about the case. According to Lynch, this incident remains an ongoing investigation.
To lower the chances of another sexual assault, students should familiarize themselves with what a sexual assault is, how to prevent it, and what to do if they are a victim of it. Sexual assault can come in many forms and is not exclusive to rape.
According to Gayle Pamerleau, Director of Counseling, PA law defines sexual assault as unwanted or forced sexual contact without consent. “Rape is forced sexual penetration without consent, so in PA, rape is a type of sexual assault,” she said. Regardless of gender and sexual orientation, victims should seek help, Pamerleau said. When it comes to reporting an assault, campus police said they take every allegation seriously. Lynch said these cases are often difficult though.
Pamerleau’s Safety Tips:
- Safety in numbers – employ the buddy system, especially when attending parties.
- If meeting someone, spend time in public places until trust is built.
- If consuming alcohol, know how to pace yourself and be responsible.
- “Alcohol is the most common date rape drug,” Pamerleau said.
“They’re complicated because we have to sort through wishes and facts,” Lynch said.
In terms of campus police protocol for sexual assault, Lynch declined to answer. Instead, he suggested talking to residence life or the Blackburn Center on such matters.
If you or someone you know has been a victim, but doesn’t know what to do, Pamerleau suggested going to the Counseling Center where everything is completely confidential. Additional offices she suggested include the Health Center or Campus Police. Most importantly, she urged people not to hide what has happened.
“Don’t try to recover from this alone. Being victimized can have a long-lasting impact on future relationships and the ability to trust people,” Pamerleau said.
If someone you know has been assaulted, Pamerleau said the best thing is to offer support. Details of the physical assault are only some of the factors that go along with assault, Pamerleau said. Support is crucial when reporting the crime too.
“The Blackburn Center has advocates specifically trained to offer this kind of support with the legal process,” Pamerleau said.
Pamerleau said the best way to put an end to any form of sexual violence is having clear consent. She said victim-blaming will never totally end sexual violence.Pamerleau illustrated examples of victim-blaming:
“When people say that if the victim had not walked in that neighborhood alone, or dressed that provocatively for the party, etc. he or she would not have been assaulted,” Pamerleau said. “Victim blaming takes the focus away from the real problem: perpetrators who think it’s ok to get away with forcing sexual acts without consent,” she added.