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Campus Police Chief Who Said Most Sexual Assaults 'Ain’t Rape' Is Back on Duty

Nov 13 2015 5:40 PM
Campus Police Chief Who Said Most Sexual Assaults 'Ain’t Rape' Is Back on Duty

Image via Flickr user Thomas Hawk

A police chief at a Georgia college has come under fire for saying that most rapes are "women waking up the next morning with a guilt complex."

College campus police chief Bryan Golden recently caused outrage by sharing the following to the student newspaper when being interviewed about sexual assault on campus: "Most of these sexual assaults are women waking up the next morning with a guilt complex. That ain't rape, that's being stupid. When the dust settles, it was all consensual. It doesn't happen here. It doesn't show up here. They're about as much a rape as a goat roping." (Goat roping, for the record, is exactly what it sounds like.) The small university, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, has distanced itself from his comments.

"[Sexual assault survivors] are very reluctant to come forward because they don't feel like they will be believed," Dr. Barbara Greenberg, an adolescent psychologist who has often treated sexual assault survivors, told Broadly. "It's so unfortunate that a man in place of tremendous responsibility and working at a college would say such not only insensitive comments, but ignorant comments. Shameful comments. He's comparing being raped to goat roping? It's because of people like him that women don't come forward, and he has really brought us back a couple steps." While some media outlets and universities have made attempts this year to spread awareness of the frequency of rape on campuses, sexual assault on college campuses continue to be an epidemic.

Most of these sexual assaults are women waking up the next morning with a guilt complex.

Comments such as Golden's can lead a survivor to feel violated all over again. "My body was sexually assaulted one night. But my integrity and my intelligence were attacked over and over and over again after I reported it. And honestly, I can't tell you which one is worse," Danielle Campoamor, a writer who was sexually assaulted by a coworker on a work trip in 2013, told Broadly. It's tempting to write Golden's comments off as an isolated incident, but this sort of logic remains ubiquitous—from Canada, to the South, to seemingly progressive cities like Portland, obtaining criminal justice for remains a harrowing experience for sexual assault survivors. "When I reported my sexual assault, I was asked multiple times if it was something I wanted. I was asked multiple times if it was something that I initiated," said Campoamor, who was assaulted in Portland. "I was asked if I was being seductive in some way, or sent the wrong signal. I was asked if I had been drinking and what I had been wearing."

"In fact, I answered more questions about my conduct than I did about the man who sexually assaulted me," she continued. "And when those questions and that kind of judgmental assumption was sent my way by people who were supposed to protect me, it only made me feel like I was broken."

Golden's comments are not only ignorant; they're dangerous. "From all the research and all the clinical work that I've done, what I have learned is that what's equally important is when someone gets traumatized—either sexually abused or sexually assaulted—what's equally important is not only the event, but how people react to it. So this is like a double trauma," said Dr. Greenberg. "[It could result in] depression, invalidation, and shame. That could lead to self-destructive and potentially suicidal behavior." RAINN lists suicide and self-harm as a potential effect of sexual assault, along with substance abuse, depression, and PTSD.

"I started to blame myself. Maybe I shouldn't have been there at all. Maybe I shouldn't have said anything at all. Maybe I shouldn't have been me. Maybe I just shouldn't be," said Campoamor. "I started drinking heavily and sinking into depression, because all I could hear was all the ways I could have done something different to avoid being attacked, instead of all the ways my attacker shouldn't have attacked me." One third of rape survivors will experience PTSD and one third will seriously consider taking their own life. In addition, rape survivors are 13.4 percent more likely to have alcohol problems, and 26 more times likely to have drug problems, the National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center found.

I have never even seen one case in my entire time of practicing when a girl has made something up.

By making that sort of comment, Golden is essentially accusing women who report sexual assaults of being liars. "I have never even seen one case in my entire time of practicing when a girl has made something up," said Dr. Greenberg. As The Washington Post reported, as with any memory associated with trauma, the memory of an assault can be murky, but less than 10 percent of sexual assault reports are false.

"The idea that most sexual assault survivors are just women who had consensual sex and, the next morning, feel guilty, is a direct effect of our rape culture and the power it has," said Campoamor. "It feeds off the idea that if a man wants sex with a woman, of course she wants to have sex with him. It's victim blaming. It's overlooking a very real problem and blaming women for rape."

Golden was suspended without pay but back is on the job, WALB reports. A petition has been started demanding his resignation.

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