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Sexual Assault Center finds TBI numbers misleading

11:18 PM, Apr 4, 2013   |    comments
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Most of the crimes reported on college campuses are break-ins and thefts, but a Knoxville organization is trying to bring more awareness to a far worse offense. One that is not reported as often.

TBI recently released numbers about Crime on Campus for 2012. One statistic that jumped out shows a nearly 20% decrease in forcible sex offenses reported-- that includes rape-- on Tennessee's college campuses.

You might think the Sexual Assault Center of East Tennessee would be happy to see that number but they're actually worried about it.

"A 20% decrease doesn't seem realistic in one year or two years to have that much of a decrease," said Elizabeth Matthews, Director of Education and Outreach at Sexual Assault Center.

She said the crimes are still happening, women just aren't reporting them.

At the Sexual Assault Center, they helped 151 college age women in the 2012 school year. That was up from the 2011 school year when they saw 99 victims. The victims who come to their center do not always report the crime to the police.

"It makes me think what are the obstacles to get the reports to come in. We know already that the majority of sexual assaults are not reported," Matthews said. She said it is up to the victim if they want to report the crime to police.

Matthews said it's concerning if women aren't reporting the crimes to anyone.

"If a victim can report a sexual assault, it starts the process of closure and processing through the event that happened to them," she said. "We know that sexual assault survivors are at a higher rate of alcoholism, drug abuse, PTSD, anxiety and depression. [We are] helping them before that steps in, to move forward."

The center is taking their message onto UT's campus this month for Sexual Assault Awareness month.

They've already made a stop this week at the campus' health fair and plan to be back everyday next week for UT's Sex Week.

Their research shows young women age 16 to 25 are the most likely to become victims.

You can learn about about the Sexual Assault Center of East Tennessee and their upcoming events by visiting their website.

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