Two predators and two unlocked doors that led to two reported rapes in the last two weeks has residents of Isla Vista concerned about their safety.
There have been 14 total reported sexual assaults this year, and two of the latest incidents involved the predator attacking the victim while the victim was sleeping. Another three acquaintance rapes – in which the victim and attacker know each other – have been reported to the UCSB Women’s Center in just the past few weeks since students moved back for fall quarter.
Carol Mosely, UCSB’s rape prevention education coordinator, said common behaviors and attitudes in I.V. necessitate safety precautions.
“When we think about safety, we have to think about lowering our risks — locking doors, travelling in groups — and some other things that aren’t being brought up. We live in a culture where many behaviors are not seen as threatening,” she said.
“There are people at parties who are sexual predators and looking for someone vulnerable … guys know among them who is that kind of man. Guys are the ones who should say something. It doesn’t matter what they say to [sexual predators] – just as long as they say something,” Mosely said. “I know it’s hard to intervene in a party situation, but my challenge to students is to speak up: ‘Get her number and call her tomorrow’ … We as a community have to look at this kind of behavior.”
Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Dept. Operations Commander Deborah Linden said although preventive measures should be taken to ensure safety, rape is never the fault of the victim.
“Sexual assault is always the fault of the offender. With all this talk of preventive measures, it is key to convey that the victim is never to blame,” she said. “As a community, we need to put road blocks in the way of the predators. The reality of where we live is that we can’t give these opportunities to predators. That’s what [Isla Vista] is to them – an opportunity.”
Linden said locking doors and other safety precautions are an effective deterrent to criminals.
“Lock your doors, don’t walk around alone at night; the community should help each other out. A major problem is that a lot of people leave the door unlocked for their roommates; you should leave a key with a neighbor or make more copies of your keys,” she said. “Criminals are going to look for the easiest opportunity. They don’t want to be caught. They want to find a location that offers the least resistance.”
Mosely said women also have to be aware of the danger of acquaintance rape, despite the recent predator attacks.
“These kind of [predator] rapes are fairly rare in our community. We’ve also had three acquaintance assaults reported to the [Women’s Center] these past two weeks,” she said. “Acquaintance rapes are not reported as often to law enforcement, so the numbers are higher than they seem.”
Isla Vista Foot Patrol Lt. Russ Birchim said peeping is prevalent in I.V., and women should draw their blinds at night.
“We’ve got a lot of problems with peepers out here. Women should draw their drapes, keep the lights off while undressing. You just have to be careful,” he said.
3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall said residents should be in a position to make responsible decisions
“Something I always stress to my kids is to be in control of the situation at all times. If you’re in control, then you can control what’s going on, but if you’re not in control, then you cannot control what happens to you as easily,” she said.
Linden said when alcohol is involved, victims usually blame themselves for the assault and are reluctant to report the incident to law enforcement.
“Alcohol is a big one — [do not] drink to the point when you are unable to make decisions. But still victims cannot blame themselves. A rape is a rape is a rape. We want them to report it because otherwise we can’t catch them,” she said. “Laws will protect the confidentiality of rape victims, and officers go through a lot of special training to handle cases.”