When police announced last week that a 14-year-old boy was charged with sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl at , people immediately .
In light of the school's statement that the alleged assault , Evanston Patch talked to two local experts about what teens can do to protect themselves from such violence and who they should turn to if they are sexually assaulted.
Approximately 19 sexual assualts against juveniles happened in 2010, while 25 incidents occurred in 2011, according to Victims Advocate Beckie Fischer.
"If you think about the statistic that one in four women will be sexually assaulted and given Evanston's population, we know that these are underreported," Fischer said.
In addition to the EPD's 24/7 on-call victim advocates, the offers community-based counseling* and also allows victims to speak with counselors over the phone.
Incidents should be reported when a victim feels his or her physical boundaries have been disrepsected, according to YWCA Evanston/North Shore's Violence Prevention Coordinator Craige Christensen.
"Setting our own boundaries and expecting them to be honroed is imperative, as well as assertively communciationg those boundaries," Christensen said. "It's key to understand that when someone plows through them it’s not cute."
Both Christensen and Fischer said talking about an assault can be challenging for victims.
"There’s all these stigmas about coming forward. ... It’s a very personal thing and then to come to the police department and to be interviewed by the police department and to talk about it when you’re not ready," Fischer said.
Christensen also acknowledged the difficulties for teen victims in coming forward and said YWCA Evanston/North Shore has measures to make talking more comfortable.
"If they are under the age of 16, they are allowed five visits with a counselor before we let the parents know," she said. And as some teens may feel more comfortable speaking with friends about an assault, she said the best thing a peer can do is be a patient and open-minded listener. It's important for peers to not be judgmental, she added.
"You don't want to let your friend isolate themselves from you — that's the danger," she said, "And it may take them a while to decide to go to a counselor, but they have to come to the decision themselves."
When anyone reports an incident to the EPD, advocates will perform "crisis intervention," according to Fischer.
"We would come out and meet at the hospital, and provide a sexual assault kit if they want us to," she said, "A big part of it is explaining what the legal process is during this high crisis time. We explain certain things and why they are happening to move forward with the case."
EPD also offers counseling for the victim until the case is closed.
However, receiving longer-term counseling can be financially difficult to maintain, according to Fischer.
"We don’t have a lot of services that are no costs to victims of sexual violence," she said, "We’ve been working with a crime victims compensation program through the Attorney General’s offices. ... It does take a significant amount of time to get that reimbursement."
In addition to contacting police, teen victims of sexual assault can call the national teen dating abuse helpline at 866-331-9474, or the Evanston YWCA at 847-864-8780 and 847-864-8445. You can also check out www.loveisrespect.org for more information.
*a previous version of this article incorrectly used walk-in counseling instead of community-based counseling.