Marquette University sex assault study

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by Sandra Torres

MILWAUKEE-- On the month when many show support to survivors of sex assault, a Marquette study reveals young girls rarely report incidents of abuse, because they see it as being normal.

"I found that girls are normalizing everyday experiences of sexual violence," said Heather Hlavka, a Sociologist at Marquette University, who is behind the study.

Hlavka analyzed more than 100 cases of young girls between the ages of 13 to 17, who may have been sexually assaulted.

"They're talking about these experiences of abuse in ways that are accepting... on some occasions the girls would say, well, I know he doesn't really mean it, that's how boys talk, so it's normal because he says that to everyone," said Hlavka about her findings.

This can result in victims not reporting it to police or authoritative figures in schools.

"Girls are smart and they know if they report it, they are at risk of being blamed, shamed and isolated from their peers," reported Hlavka.

For organizations like UMOS Latina Resource center in Milwaukee, this study is not surprising.

 "The reality is, it happens all the time but we believe sexual assault is taboo... it's not socialy accepted. But if it's happening every minute and a half, its not a taboo topic... what's taboo, is talking about it," said Teale Greyllord, a Bilingual Family Specialist at UMOS.

Greyllord adds that's why it's important to report any incident of abuse.

"If he did this to you, he can do it to someone else," Greyllord added.

The full study on "Normalizing Sexual Violence: Young Women Account for Harassment and Abuse" will appear in the June 2014 issue of the journal Gender and Society.
 

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