Rape at Ohio State University: A Personal Story

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Crime is down on the Ohio State University campus in all but one category.

Other rapes were reported to OSU each year between 2018 and 2020, according to data released by the university.

In the United States, universities are required under the Clery Act to report crime statistics using the same standards and to publish those statistics online. The annual Ohio State Safety Report fulfills the law. It shows 93 rapes reported to campus authorities in 2018, 118 in 2019 and 134 in 2020.

This excludes reports against former OSU doctor Richard Strauss.

A personal story of sexual assault

But these reports are more than just statistics. Each represents a person. Maeve Walsh is a recent graduate of OSU. She agreed to record with NBC4 to talk about a difficult subject.

“I was sexually assaulted in September 2017. I believe it was my third weekend in the state of Ohio,” Walsh said. “I think I found a lot of healing in talking about this super taboo subject – something that happens to so many people – to a ridiculous number of people in the state of Ohio and around the world.”

Walsh’s experience colored his entire four years at college.

“I did not know my attacker. It was at a random house party, and I had no way of identifying it, ”she said. “I started to see characteristics of my abuser that were similar in other people and it was sort of – it could be a trigger for me.”

According to public security records, dozens of students each year report rapes to OSU campus officials.

Walsh was not one of those students.

“I think I carried a lot of that shame and embarrassment,” Walsh recalls. “So that kept me from reporting it to the state of Ohio – from reporting it to an authority figure.”

Even though the university provided resources, Walsh said she felt overwhelmed.

“I think there were about 10 to 15 different phone numbers, and I didn’t even know where to start,” she said.

OSU Office of Institutional Equity

Molly Peirano, Director of Education and Engagement in OSU’s Office of Institutional Equity, spoke to Jamie Ostroff of NBC4 to discuss sexual assault.

When asked if rape was a problem in the state of Ohio, Peirano replied, “Rape is a nationwide problem, and I hope the state of Ohio can. continue to do our part to change behavior. It’s obviously heartbreaking that people are having this experience, and we always say that one is too many.

OSU’s Office of Institutional Equity was established in 2019 as a centralized resource for victims of sexual assault.

“We want to increase our reports,” said Peirano. “We focused on, ‘How do you create a space where people feel comfortable coming forward knowing that there are a lot of barriers for people to report, to come forward? “”

And the reports multiply.

Ostroff asked, “Are you suggesting that the numbers in the Clery Report go up because the number of reports goes up or the number of rapes goes up?” “

“The number of reports,” Peirano said. “So that means we know people felt comfortable coming forward, they are willing to share this information. “

Peirano said more accurate rape data would help current and future victims.

“Our main goal is to connect them with supportive resources, but again, this will also inform our education, our prevention,” she said.

But as Walsh can tell you, the problem is much more complicated than that.

“As well as having exact statistics on the exact number of people who have experienced sexual violence, you cannot force someone to make the decision to go through months and months of investigation, revealing one of the most traumatic experiences, “said Walsh.

Peirano and his office have put resources in place to help victims of sexual violence and have made it easier to access these resources through the OSU app.

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