This University Will Punish You For Being Raped, Effectively Silencing Victims

Imagine being a woman going to a university where instead of only investigating the person who sexually assaulted you, they also choose to discipline you as well. That’s exactly what’s happening to young women who attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

BYU prides itself on Mormon values, yet apparently standing up for women who have been sexually assaulted is not one of those values. Instead, with their actions, they are in turn giving permission to rape, because it’s likely not going to get reported, because the women being assaulted are also being punished.

One woman named Brooke told CNN after she brought her story to BYU’s Title IX office, an office that is supposed to handle sexual violence:

“I thought there would be some mercy, you know. I told them everything, and because of the fact that I was on drugs, they used that reason to kick me out of school after reporting it.”

You see, BYU has an “Honor Code,” and within that code one must not commit “sexual misconduct” or participate in “illegal substances.” When Brooke came forward she explained that the sexual assault came after she had taken LSD, the school decided to send her a letter that read:

“You are being suspended from Brigham Young University because of your violation of the Honor Code including continued illegal drug used and consensual sex, effective immediately.”

And as it turns out,  Brooke is not alone. Several women have come forward with similar stories of being shamed by BYU’s archaic “Honor Code.” So many, in fact, that there is now a petition asking the school to “stop punishing victims of sexual assault.”

The woman who put together the petition shares her story, and says:

“I don’t deserve punishment for choosing to report my rape to the police. But now I have to deal with a criminal trial and an honor code investigation. I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I’m experiencing now. That’s why I’m insisting BYU creates a way for victims to come forward without being reported to the Honor Code Office.”

Also stating:

“I spoke up at a sexual assault awareness event at BYU last week. In response, Title IX official Sarah Westerberg defended her choice to deny me services and to initiate an Honor Code investigation against me. She recognized that the honor code has a “chilling effect” on reporting of rape and that Title IX  “does not apologize for that.” I felt like I was being treated not as the victim, but as a perpetrator. BYU has made it clear that victims will be punished if they report sexual violence.  That’s a huge reason why so many survivors are afraid to come forward and contributes to why BYU’s rape and sexual assault numbers are inaccurately low.  Without an immunity clause, BYU will continue to be a hostile environment for rape victims, and that emboldens offenders and shames victims.

I can only imagine how many rape survivors have not gotten justice or help to heal because it might hurt their academic standing.”

It’s just absolutely outrageous that women have to fear being suspended or expelled because they were victimized by a sexual perpetrator. They did not ask for what happened to them. They are NOT the guilty party. BYU better take a good long look at their practices and how they handle reports of sexual assault, because this is utterly unacceptable. Women should feel safe in their learning environment, and know that their school will be there for them if anything were to ever happen. Instead, they are victim-shamed and robbed of their education. Appalling.


Featured image via Wikimedia Commons