Sexual assault has long been a serious crime problem on most college campuses. But it’s something rarely discussed by school administrators, in glossy university websites, or on new student campus tours. Sexual assault on university campuses appears to be even worse for certain sub-groups of people.
Emerging research has found that nearly 40 percent of bisexual female college students experience sexual assault after four years in college.
This incident rate is considerably more than the 1 in 4 assault rate for gay and bisexual men and heterosexual women, on college campuses.
Researchers Jessie Ford and José Soto-Marquez of New York University identified Greek life (participation in fraternities or sororities) as a factor strongly linked to a higher prevalence of sexual assault for most of the student groups studied.
“We cannot tolerate the sexual assault of any group of men or women on our college campuses,” said Violence and Gender Editor-in-Chief Mary Ellen O’Toole, Ph.D.
“Sexual assault is a very underreported crime for a wide range of reasons, and it is underreported when it occurs on college and university campuses as well.”
Sexual assault crimes are generally investigated and adjudicated by university officials, not the local police. Investigation and judicial procedures vary widely from school to school. Most schools hold disciplinary hearings, often made up of teachers and students. Unfortunately, many times the people who sit on disciplinary hearings may have little training, but nonetheless act as prosecutor, judge, and jury.
“To really understand the breadth and depth of this problem, it is critical to understand the victimology of sexual assault, and that it includes all students, not just heterosexual females,” O’Toole said.
“As difficult as it can be for any college student to come forward following a sexual assault because they are afraid, intimidated, or ashamed, it can be even more so for bisexual females and gay and bisexual males who are at risk for this crime at similar rates as heterosexual females,” according to the study’s researchers.
Given these statistics, bisexual people — especially women — should reach out to a campus assault counselor and police to report the assault and receive trauma support services. Assaults should not go unreported, as it simply reinforces the behavior and suggests the perpetrator can get away with criminal behavior.
If you need help regarding a sexual assault, please reach out to the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline toll-free at 800-656-HOPE (4673).
The study appears in the journal Violence and Gender.