The University of Minnesota yesterday became one of 11 schools on a U.S. Department of Justice speaking tour to recognize programs that serve survivors of sexual assault as well as the 15th anniversary of the passage of the Violence Against Women Act, reports MN Daily at the university. U.S. Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson cited a Minnesota university student who was taken into a van near campus and sexually assaulted by three men two weeks ago. She said “that kind of incident really underscores the crucial need for places like the Aurora Center.” The center has received $1 million in federal grants over 10 years to help victims.
A recent survey found that 23.5 percent of female students on the Twin Cites campus have experienced sexual assault in their lifetime. Much of yesterday’s discussion centered on the need to educate people at an earlier age about proper and improper behaviors. “Violence against women starts as violence against girls,” said Kevin Jennings, assistant deputy secretary of the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools in the U.S. Department of Education. Only 12 percent to 15 percent of sexual assault cases are actually reported, said Donna Dunn of the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault. “That's dangerously low,” she said. “The danger is in that we don't identify offenders, we don't intervene in offending behavior and survivors don't have access to the kinds of services that will really help them recover and heal.”