USF offers a safe place for sex assault victims to seek help

A report released by the White House this week says one in five women is sexually assaulted while at college.
 
The same report lists a series of recommendations for all universities to help change that.
 
"That's a pretty serious problem that should be addressed and needs to be fixed," said USF sophomore Ryan King.
 
It's not a problem unique to any one campus, but USF does offer something other universities don't: A safe, confidential place victims can go to talk about sexual assault.
 
"It is not a new issue. There have always been campus sexual violence incidents," Naci Newton said.
 
Newton is the director of the USF Center for Victim Advocacy and Violence Prevention.
 
She said when victims feel like they don't have somewhere to turn, they will not seek the help they need.
 
The new federal guidelines would change that.
 
"It mandates that there be places designated and advertised on campus where a victim can go and speak confidentially to someone," Newton said.
 
They also call for men to be part of the solution.
 
Six years ago Newton's office came up with the "REAL" program, a peer education group made up primarily of male students.
 
"They go and present a workshop or classroom presentation that teaches something called bystander intervention to students," Newton said.
 
Newton said the federal guidelines will help universities learn from one another and if it works the way it's intended, she expects more victims will report the crimes.
 
"We're going to see an increase in people coming forward about sexual violence, and it's going to look like there's more. But there won't be. There will be more reports,” she said.
 
Click here to read the full White House report.
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