Two Students at TAMU Discuss Their Experiences Reporting Sexual Assault

The following is an interview with two sexual assault victims who have chosen to come forward and speak critically about the challenges they each faced through the process of reporting their assault. Both are A&M students.

 

Madison Auerbach (MA): My name’s Madison Auerbach, I’m a sophomore, and it happened on October 1st. I reported it to the cops the same day, and then I reported it to the school a couple of days after.

Nicole Platamone (NP): My name is Nikki, or Nicole Platamone; I began the reporting process at the start of the spring semester about two weeks in.

 

Her Campus at Texas A&M (HC TAMU): Why did you decide to speak with us today?

MA: I came because I don’t think that what was done was enough. I just think sexual assault shouldn’t be happening as often. 

NP: I decided to come talk to you guys today because from what I’ve experienced, the process has been extremely difficult for me. I think that the trials and tribulations that are part of A&M’s specific reporting process make it very difficult for a victim.

 

HC TAMU: Can you tell me the steps you took to report your assault?

MA: I first reported it to the campus police, and it took a month or so for them to get back to me. I had an investigator who was in charge of the case, and he let me know that there was a lack of evidence to go forward with. A couple days later, I told the campus what happened, and that took a long time. When I did hear back from them, it went to a panel, and he got suspended.

NP: After my assault, I went to the A&M clinic two days later. Because I told them what happened, they were required to report it to the university at that point. I chose not to engage in any sort of reporting process at that time though, and I ignored the calls and emails. It wasn’t until I went home over break and had time to process everything that I decided to come back and go through the reporting process because I had talked to a woman who had told me that it was meant to be a very educational experience and not necessarily punishing for either side. So, I set up an appointment with a coordinator who took my first statement. A couple weeks later, it was sent to the next department, which I think was the Dean of Student Life at that point. From there, I gave an additional statement, which was the same story in my first statement. From that point, I was told by a woman that it went to the "fact finders.” After a bad experience with Beutel and going to the hospital to get a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) exam, I was pretty defeated. I tried to get out of it, and they told me that I couldn’t, but that I had the option to not have to receive communication or attend any meetings. They said that within the next month, I’d hear back about whether or not the case goes to a panel.

 

HC TAMU: Were you familiar at all with the process you would be going into? Did you do any research before?

NP: I did a lot of research, actually. I was originally going to file for a protective order through the court system, and then, I just got very nervous about it, and I went to the Sexual Assault Resource Center here in Brazos Valley. That’s when I talked to one of the counselors who said that I should consider reporting through the school. I was given a contact so that I could ask questions about A&M’s process, so I did email back and forth with this contact, asking a couple different questions. I was also pretty aware of the process because I’m on a University Disciplinary Appeals Committee, so I listen to the actual appeal of these cases. However, I just didn’t really understand all the behind-the-scenes things that go on that are not laid out for you.

 

HC TAMU: So yours [Nikki’s] is still ongoing but yours [Maddy’s] had officially closed at this point?

MA: Yeah. 

 

HC TAMU: How much time did it take between when the investigation opened between when it closed?

MA: Maybe, like two months.

 

HC TAMU: During the process, did the A&M system keep updated communications with you?

MA: They did, but I felt like I had to initiate it. 

NP: I would say the same. I felt that unless I reached out to them, they did not ever reach out to me unless it was saying that I needed to be somewhere at a certain for a meeting or for an interview. 

 

HC TAMU: Did you have any help through the Student Counseling Services over the course of the process or was that something open as an option but not something that you pursued?

MA: I didn’t really go to the Student Counseling Services. I just had my family.

NP: I had a bad experience at the health clinic on campus. After that, I did not want to use any of A&M’s resources. However, right before I went home for break, I got extremely nervous about having to tell my mom, so I went in for a crisis appointment. It was very beneficial. I was glad I went.

 

HC TAMU: Do you feel like, at least through the reporting process, that your privacy was protected?

MA: Yeah.

 

HC TAMU: Are you satisfied with the direction it went and with the overall outcome of your report?

MA: Yeah, they told me that it’s rare they suspend people that are found guilty. So, I guess I'm satisfied with what happened.

 

HC TAMU: In general, do you think that anything could have been handled differently?

MA: I just wish it was handled in a more timely manner, but I know they have a lot to deal with.

NP: I also wish it was done in a more timely manner. I wish there was a lot more communication both ways, and I also wish that they would have something in place to where you don't have to tell your story so many times. If they had asked me to record myself saying it the first time, I would’ve allowed them.

 

HC TAMU: How many times do you think you have had to repeat yourself?

NP: I’ve told it four times, and from my understanding, it will not be the last.

MA: Maybe around eleven times. It’s a lot.

 

HC TAMU: If someone’s going through a similar process and having to deal with the same things, is there any advice or suggestions you might have for other students on a college campus that are either scared about reporting or maybe in the process themselves?

MA: I would suggest not going alone or going with a friend and just having a support through it all.

NP: Yeah, I’d say the same. I’d also just say to make sure that you’re comfortable telling your story and that you’re able to talk about it in detail because I was not mentally prepared for that.

MA: Yeah, me either, but that’s something that you have to get used to. It’s frustrating.

 

While these two women did choose to report their assault, the issue still stands that each have felt confusion or uncertainty throughout the process. Whether it be on a local level or national level, reporting sexual assault should not leave any victims feeling this way. Regardless of how many have had positive experiences in reporting their assault, those who have not should not be ignored.

Something must be done.

You can read more about what challenges victims face when choosing to go forward with reporting their assault here.

 

Editor's Note: There are resources readily available at both Texas A&M University and nationally for victims of sexual violence, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence and/or stalking.

TAMU University Police: 979-845-2345

TAMU Student Counseling Service (SCS): 979-845-4427

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Sexual Assault Resource Center: 1-979-731-1000

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673