Sexual assault survey officially launched on campus

news1The Trinity College Students’ Union (TCDSU) landmark sexual assault survey reported on last week by Trinity News was officially launched yesterday.

The survey,  which polled 1,038 students between December 8th and 13th, asked respondents five questions relating to whether student had had a non-consensual sexual experience, suffered verbal harassment, felt they were subject to stalking or obsessive behaviour, experience unwanted physical contact, and if they had heard of campaigns on sexual assault.

The study found that one in four female students have been sexually assaulted.

Just under a third (31%) of women who took part in the survey said they have experienced unwanted physical contact while studying at Trinity or in a Trinity social setting, compared with 8% for men. One in 13 respondents – 8% of women and 7% of men – reported having been stalked or subject to obsessive behaviour.

42% of female students and 8% of male students said that they had experienced verbal harassment, while one in 20 respondents said they have been physically mistreated by a partner.

Representatives form the Rape Crisis Centre and Women’s Aid yesterday congratulated the SU on the survey, which they agreed continued to dispel the myths surrounding sexual assault.

For instance, they quoted an EU survey in 2014 of 42,000 women that found consistent correlations between sexual and extreme physical violence in more than 50% of women surveyed.

It was pointed out that the survey , which found that 5% of male students had experience unwanted sexual experiences, also highlights the issue of sexual assault among men.

Senior tutor, Claire Laudet, reiterated how College and SU officials needed to further develop discussion on sexual assault and consent “off the back of this commendable work”. 

Aoife O’Brien, the SU gender equality officer, commented: “I’m hoping that the college will take steps towards introducing a policy on responding to sexual assault, as I don’t believe the dignity and respect policy is enough, and that the wider college community will recognise how bad the problem is and be open to participating in a conversation on what consent means.”

O’Brien and Ian Mooney, the SU welfare officer, both hope they will be able to hold another survey with a larger audience and more specific questions to establish to what level and extent sexual assault among Trinity students. 

The survey has received a huge response within and outside of Trinity, with the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre having asked after yesterday’s event to use the results in their own training programme surveys and Trinity’s dean of students, Kevin O’Kelly, saying that he wants to develop a discussion on sexual assault between student and college bodies.