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Why more SoCal college students are reporting sexual assaults




File: A student walks near Royce Hall on the campus of UCLA on April 23, 2012.
File: A student walks near Royce Hall on the campus of UCLA on April 23, 2012.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

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 The UCLA police department just released its 2016 crime report, and the number of reported sexual assaults doubled last year, compared with 2015. This information comes on the heels of similar data from California State University-Northridge, where sexual assaults tripled.

To find out what may account for this disturbing uptick, Take Two's A Martinez spoke with Sheri Strahl. She's chief administrative officer at Strength United, a non-profit advocacy and rape crisis center chartered by CSUN.

Strahl says the higher numbers are due to more survivors coming forward and reporting their assaults. She points to feedback from CSUN's care advocate, a provider who can educate and support a victim without any affiliation with law enforcement. 

"Because survivors can go to the campus care advocate, they're learning about the reporting process and it's less scary for them, the barriers are removed," Strahl said. " We're finding as a result that students are reporting more."

Strength United is proud of having helped to create what they believe to be a safer environment for survivors to come forward, but its focus remains on getting at the roots of sexual violence. "We've really been focusing for a long time on risk factors for victimization and putting a lot of the onus and responsibility on survivors," Strahl said. "At CSUN, we've created in the last two years a peer education program called MenCARE. We're really engaging men and people who identify as masculine as allies in preventing sexual violence."

Quotes edited for clarity and brevity. 

To hear the full interview, click on the media player above.