OUPD’s Detective Collins discusses domestic violence and sexual assault

The Feminists of OU welcomes female Detective Collins to speak about OUPD’s experiences in handling domestic violence and sexual assault.


Mary Mitchell

Detective Shona Collins speaks to The Feminists of OU club about domestic violence.

The Feminists of OU welcomed Detective Shona Collins from the Oakland University Police Department (OUPD) on Nov. 3 to lead a discussion about domestic violence and sexual assault. Collins shared her personal experiences of being a woman in her industry and handling domestic and sexual assault cases.

“It’s a long process, [it] does not happen overnight,” Collins said.

She described the signs that indicate that someone might be in a developing abusive relationship: isolation from socializing, self-esteem wearing away, weight change and depression.

“Whenever you have a problem, you have to first identity the problem,” Collins said, talking about how to approach someone in an abusive relationship. “[The] earlier you can catch it, the easier it is.”

Often, a thought from an outsider’s perspective is, “Why doesn’t the partner just simply leave the relationship?” Collins made clear that it is not that easy.

She said the average survivor attempts to leave an abusive relationship eight times, and most people give up on trying to persuade their friends to leave after the third attempt.

“The reason [people are] afraid of leaving a relationship is it can be the most dangerous,” Collins said. “Domestic homicide occurs when they leave. It’s safe to stay.”

As Collins began the discussion of sexual assault, she told stories about the beginning of her career and the difficulty she faces being a female police officer.

Early on, her male co-workers would not speak to her, and rejecting a co-worker who asked her out caused the officer to spread rumors of her sleeping with all the employees. She said she had to prove she was “good enough to be a cop.”

Throughout her career, Collins said she has used her position to educate her co-workers about sexual assault, emphasizing that it’s not appropriate to blame the victim. She acknowledged the wrongful criticism people direct toward victims, such as saying, “They were asking for it,” or “It’s their fault.”

Political science major, junior and vice president of the Feminists of OU, Kate Hubbell, shared her thoughts on Collin’s discussion and feminism.

“For her to come in here and explain the process [of sexual assault cases] we don’t get to see is super important,” Hubbell said.

She also spoke about the ways the Feminists of OU bring awareness to feminism, gender equality and sexual assault.

“We did the Slut Walk a few weeks ago, which wasn’t a way to enforce or violently suppress other people’s ideas, but rather to bring to light the issues that we see every day,” she said. “We also had an equal-pay bake sale.”

Although Hubbell thinks OUPD does a good job informing students about sexual assault and keeping them safe, she believes no police department is perfect. There is always room for improvement.

“[Having the] policy to allow people to report anonymously on campus and having a police department that is specifically focused on the students is important,” she said. “I personally know I’m not the only one who has issues with our current sexual assault policy as a university, and that’s not going to change any time soon because it’s something very difficult to change.”