Last Updated: December 21, 2017, 3:48 pm

Health professionals offer aid to rape victims


The recorded rate of rape may be low in St George, but it is not nonexistent.

Tina Coburn, a charge nurse at the Dixie Regional Medical Center, said the hospital sees a lot of rape cases — most when college is in session. Most rape victims are high school or college age, and while most victims are female, the hospital also sees male victims. Coburn said students who think rape is not a problem are wrong.

“I think that [students] should be careful and try not to get into a situation by themselves that can lead to it,” she said. “Always be with someone else…never go anywhere alone. Keep your doors and windows locked.”

Coburn explained that most rapes occur from someone the victim knows, and date rape and party rape are the most common types of rape — with alcohol more common than date rape drugs.

Perhaps the biggest problem with rape prevention may be the definition of rape is sketchy. The Union College found that 84 percent of college rapists believed their actions were “definitely not rape.” Also, “only 27 percent of the women whose sexual assault met the legal definition of rape thought of themselves as rape victims.”

According to the Utah State Code, “A person commits rape when the actor has sexual intercourse with another person without the victim’s consent.”

According to the BYU Political Review explains, “If you haven’t obtained explicit, affirmative, and undeniable consent from the other party without the use of any physical, emotional, or psychological force or manipulation, you proceed at your own peril.” 

Physically resisting a rape is not necessary.

According to the BYU Political Review: “Utah courts have explained that the victim need not resist beyond what her age, mental capacity, and physical strength make reasonable under the circumstances. In Utah, the fact that the victim may have been friendly or consented to kissing, hugging, or even sex on other occasions does not mean she consented to sex or anything else in that particular event.”

Utah ranks 34 on the nation’s rape list, according to statistical database State Master. Utah recorded 869 “forcible rapes” in 2006 — well below the national average of 1812.8. First place went to California with 9,212.

While most men are not rapists, 99 percent of rapists are men, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. However, men may also be victimized. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found that “one in 71 men have been raped in their lifetime.”

Women are at much greater risk, as nearly one in five women have been raped in their lifetime. The survey also found that between one- and two-thirds of rape victims experience post-traumatic stress disorder.

St. George rape victims are usually treated at The Dove Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to domestic violence and rape recovery.

Holly Hansen, Dove Center program manager, said they can, and frequently do, assist victims of rape. They are present during all rape cases at the hospital.

According to the Dixie Regional Medical Center website, victims of a rape  should call 911 immediately, and they should contact a health provider. 

The tips advised that victims “Preserve evidence of the attack—do not change clothes, eat, drink, smoke, bathe, brush teeth, or clean up in any way. Write down all the details about the attack and the attacker.” 

The hospital offers free rape checks. Coburn said special nurses are trained specifically for rape cases, and that advocates from the Dove Center are with victims through the entire examination. Police are informed by law, but whether charges are filed is not up to the hospital staff.

Coburn had a message to those who think rape isn’t a problem.

“Be aware that, yes, it is a problem and it does happen her,” she said. “Just because you’re in Utah doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Be very safe. If you’re going out to have a good time, keep yourself safe. ‘No’ does mean ‘no.’”

According to the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence: “The first and most important step in protecting yourself against rape is mental awareness and readiness to perceive a threat when it is present. The first thing to avoid is denial—you could be targeted by a rapist.”

Also, the Health and Wellness Center is available to students for aid.