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Reporting Rape: Victim Speaks Out

IOWA CITY, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) -- The number of people reporting sexual assault crimes to the University of Iowa Campus Police has dropped from eight to four from 2012 to 2013, as the University is moving forward with its six-point plan to make reporting those crimes easier.

But that is only a small slice of the situation in Iowa City: reported rapes to the Rape Victim Advocacy Center were at an all-time high in 2013. There were 308 reported rapes from all genders combined.

For Victoria Watson, the choice to not press charges against her attacker was not easy.

It was New Year's Eve, 2007, when a man Watson had been talking to at a party broke into the room where she was sleeping and raped her.

The next day, at the advice of a friend, she went to hospital and called the Iowa City Police. That's when things changed. The friends who had tried to keep Watson's attacker away from her were now calling with a different message.

"'You can't do this to him he has a really bright future ahead of him,' or like, 'This puts me in a really tough or uncomfortable position because you were flirting with him,'" Watson said. "So I battled with myself on whether or not it was the right thing to do. Not just for myself but right for everybody involved."

Watson recanted. She decided not to press charges. She is one of many, though there is no way of knowing how many victims stay silent.

"For many people, having their sort of
personal life become so completely violated and having their boundaries completely ignored, there's a real desire to regain a sense of self, and to not put oneself in a situation again, if you can help it, where you're not in control," said Linda Stewart Kroon, director of the Women's Resource Advocacy Center.

And while that choice is different for everyone, Watson said she used to blame herself for not reporting. She found comfort in working through her attack with a counselor, even if it wasn't with police.

"You have to dig down real deep in yourself and think about what you can live with," she said.

Watson said, if she knew then what she knows now, she would have continued pressing charges.
 
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