Sexual Assault in College: Prevention, Support, and Inspirational Quotes
It is a sad fact, but the college culture is one in which rape occurs. Although it is never the responsibility of the victim to have prevented rape or sexual assault, there are some important things to know and some ways to help look out for friends as well. It is important to follow up if an assault happens to make sure that the perpetrator does not just walk free and that the victim is getting the assistance that they need physically, emotionally, and legally.
College Assault Statistics
College assault statistics are required, by law, to be shared with the community at any public college or university. However, these statistics are not always easy to find on websites and may become buried in the many messages being sent out by colleges. Title IX, signed into law in 1972, states that no person in the United States shall be excluded on the basis of sex from any public institution receiving federal funding, and thus, if sexual assault happens at a federally funded institution, it has to be reported.
Approximately 19% of women will be sexually assaulted, compared with approximately 6% of men. These statistics show that we should never discount the experiences of male assault survivors and should recognize that the low number may also result from an unwillingness to report sexual assault. The numbers also highlight the fact that women are disproportionately impacted when it comes to being the victims of sexual assault.
- Know Your IX: Statistics
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center: Statistics about sexual violence
- One in Four USA: Sexual assault statistics
- The Center for Public Integrity: A lack of consequences for sexual assault
Types of Sexual Assault and Abuse
Sexual assault and abuse can take many forms on a college campus. Anything from unwanted comments to intimidation can be abuse. Even things that are meant as jokes can be abusive depending on the context and the expectation. Sexual assault is generally physical, and can include unwanted touching, forcing, or coercing someone to perform sexual acts against their will or while intoxicated. One thing is important to remember. No matter what type of sexual abuse or assault - it is NEVER the victim's fault.
- RAINN: Sexual assault
- End Rape on Campus: Title IX
- National Institute of Justice: Sexual assault on campus
Victims should not bear the sole burden of preventing rape, assault, or abuse. We should live in a culture that does not encourage the behavior in the first place. Unfortunately, even today, when it comes to the topic of sexual assault on women, many people will say that women should not drink too much or wear provocative clothing. However, that is putting an unrealistic burden on the woman for a crime being committed against her, and is diminishing the responsibility of the perpetrator, the person who is actually committing the crime.
It is a good idea to always look out for your friends and, until the culture changes, to take steps to stay safe. Have a friend help you to stay safe and do the same for them. Do not be afraid to speak up or say no if something feels wrong, and never assume that only strangers rape and assault. In fact, most sexual assaults in college come from acquaintances. You should also be aware of the crime statistics on your campus and know your rights as well as the types of sexual abuse and assault.
- Our Bodies, Ourselves: Preventing sexual assault on college campuses: what works?
- Culture of Respect: Sexual assault prevention programs
Steps to Take After Assault
If you are raped or assaulted, the first step to take is to reach out and tell someone. This is not something to be ashamed about. It is NOT your fault, and the person who did it to you deserves to be exposed. Seek medical attention as soon as you can if you were physically assaulted in any way, and always make sure that you get a complete physical during your examination. Bruises, cuts, abrasions, or marks may be important in creating a case later. Also, although there may be immense pressure not to, it is best to press charges immediately. Even if you change your mind, initially pressing charges will make for a stronger case. Finally, tell someone in authority. If they deny what happened or try to convince you not to tell, go to someone else, and keep going until you succeed.
- Women's Health: Sexual assault
- Jane Doe Inc.: Immediate steps after sexual assault
- Joyful Heart Foundation: Effects of sexual assault
- Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault: What to do after sexual assault
Healing After an Assault
Rape and assault cases, especially in college, can drag out. You may not get closure and you may have to see the perpetrator around campus. You may want to attend counseling, but even if you do not choose to go that route, you should definitely have a group of people or a few close friends you can talk to. The most important thing is to realize that assault and abuse are the fault of the person who committed the crime. Do not second guess yourself or feel as if you are to blame as a victim.
- Psychology Today: Overcoming sexual assault: symptoms and recovery
- College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University: Sexual assault survivor's guide
- American Psychological Association: Sexual abuse
"H.O.P.E. - Hold on Pain Ends" - Unknown
"Healing doesn't mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our lives." - Akshay Dubey
"I never knew how strong I was until I forgave someone who wasn't sorry and accepted an apology that I never received." - Unknown
There are hundreds of quotes that can inspire you to heal after being assaulted, but maybe the most important is something that speaks to you, doesn't assign blame to you, and helps YOU heal. Anything can be inspirational, so pick something that speaks to you and helps you heal but also helps you stay focused on change and the fight you are facing. Find helpful friends and things that resonate with you.
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