Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wear a white ribbon for Yeardley Love

Next Sunday, the University of Virginia will celebrate its "Final Exercises" and send forth newly minted graduates into the world. It will be a bitter-sweet weekend for many, especially for the family, friends, teammates and sorority sisters of Yeardley Love, who was murdered a few short weeks ago, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend, another student.

I am joining many in asking you to wear a white ribbon on May 23 in honor of Yeardley Love and to raise awareness of the violence against women on college campuses nationwide. We will distribute white ribbons Sunday morning at St. Paul's at our 8 am service, and I hope you will wear one to the graduation exercises.

The University of Virginia practices and procedures, and the culture of student life, have come under a great deal of scrutiny lately. But this violence against young women is not confined to this university only. It is rampant nationwide.

The Women's Center at UVa has released startling statistics about this violence, and I am reprinting it here below. To learn more about Women's Center, please click HERE.


  • A study of 176 female college students indicated that: 1
    • Approximately 42% of all participants reported experiencing some type of coerced or forced kissing or fondling. 22% reported some type of coerced or forced oral-genital contact, 23% reported vaginal or anal intercourse as a result of continuous arguments or pressure. 6% reported having someone attempt vaginal or anal intercourse by use of threat or some degree of force. 9% reported having anal or vaginal intercourse under those same conditions.
  • The National College Women Sexual Victimization Study found that: 2
    • For their sample, the rate of completed and attempted rapes was 35 per every 1,000 female students. The researchers suggest that based on this rate, college campuses having 10,000 female students could theoretically have as many as 350 incidents of rape during the academic year.
    • For women who had been raped and sexually assaulted,
      • 9 of 10 offenders were known to the victim (boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, classmate, friend, acquaintance or co-worker).
      • College professors were not identified as committing any rapes or sexual coercions, however they were cited as the offender in a low number of cases involving unwanted sexual contact.
      • 60% of completed rapes occurring on campus took place in the victim’s residence. 31% occurred in other living quarters on a campus and 10.3% took place in a fraternity. Off-campus victimizations also were more likely to occur in residences. Some respondents also reported that incidences took place in bars, dance clubs, and work settings.
  • 4 out of 5 students (81%) have experienced some form of sexual harassment during their school years. 3
  • 22% of all rape victims are between the usual college ages of 18-24. 4
  • 75% of male students and 55% of female students involved in date rape had been drinking or using drugs. 5
  • In a study of college students, 35% of men indicated some likelihood that they would commit a violent rape against a woman who had fended off an advance if they were assure of getting away with it. 6
  • In a study surveying more than 6,000 students at 32 colleges and universities in the U.S. 7
    • 1 in 4 women had been victims of rape or attempted rape.
    • 84% of those raped knew their attacker, and 57% of the rapes happened on dates.
    • Only 27% of the women whose sexual assault met the legal definition of rape thought of themselves as rape victims.
    • 42% of the rape victims told no one about the assault, and only 5% reported to the police.
  • In a study of 477 males (a majority of whom—72%, were 1st and 2nd year students), 55.7% reported one or more instances of non-assaultive coercion to obtain sex. Coercion in this case is defined as threatening to end a relationship unless the victim consents to sex, falsely professing love, telling the victim lies to render her more sexually receptive. 8
  • A survey of 388 female college seniors showed that 79.3% of those sampled who reported having been raped or sexually assaulted while intoxicated put all or part of the blame on themselves. 50% of the women raped by force or threat of force also took on some degree of self-blame. 9
  • In a longitudinal dating violence study conducted with female freshmen at a North Carolina university, researchers found that the group of women most likely to be physically or sexually assaulted across the four years of college were those women with a history of both childhood and adolescent victimization. Women who were physically victimized in adolescence but not in childhood were the second highest group at risk. Women who were physically assaulted as adolescents were at greater risk for revictimization in their freshman year. Women who had been physically assaulted in any year of college were significantly more likely to be sexually assaulted that same year. 10


1Marx, B.P., Nichols-Anderson, C. Messman-Moore, T., Miranda, R., and Porter, C. (2000). “Alcohol Consumption Outcomes Expectations and Victimization Status Among Female College Students, Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 30, No. 5, 1056-1070.

2Fisher, S., Cullen, F., Turner, M., 2000. The Sexual Victimization of College Women. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice.

3Hostile Hallways: The AAUW Survey on Sexual Harassment in America’s Schools.AAUW Educational Foundation, 1993.

4Kilpatrick, DJ, Edmunds, CN, Seymour, A. 1992. Rape in America: A Report to the Nation, Arlington VA: National Victim Center.

5Koss, K.P., 1998. “Hidden rape: Incident, Prevalence and Descriptive Characteristics of Sexual Aggression and Victimization in a National Sample of College Students.” Rape and Sexual Assault, vol. II. (ed.) A.W. Burgess. New York: Garland Publishing Co.

6Kilpatrick, et al., 1992.

7Warshaw, Robin. 1994. “I Never Called it Rape:” The Ms. Report on Recognizing, Fighting, and Surviving Date and Acquaintance Rape. New York: Harper Perennial.
8Boeringer, S.B., 1996. “Influences of Fraternity Membership, Athletics, and Male Living Arrangements on Sexual Aggression.” Violence Against Women: 2, 134-147.

9Schwartz, M.D., Leggett, M.S., 1999. “Bad Dates or Emotional Trauma? The Aftermath of Campus Sexual Assault.” Violence Against Women: 5, 251-271.

10Smith, P.H., White, J.W., Holland, L.J. (2003). “A Longitudinal Perspective on Dating Violence Among Adolescent and College Age Women” American Journal of Public Health. Vol. 93, No.7, 1104-1109.

Adapted from a fact sheet compiled by CALCASA, 2004.

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