What every Zip should know about sexual assault

By Brittany Gregg, Opinion Editor

The National Institute of Justice estimates that “for every 1,000 women attending a college or university, there are 35 incidents of rape each academic year.”

Female students are considered to be one of the most vulnerable age groups for sexual assault. The first six weeks of college are considered a “red zone” for incoming freshmen when it comes to rape. The red zone is a period of vulnerability for sexual assaults, beginning when freshmen first walk onto campus until Thanksgiving break.

According to several studies, both freshmen and sophomore females in college are at greater risk than juniors and seniors. Most students who are sexually assaulted are victimized by someone that they know.

There is a misunderstanding about acquaintance rape and how it is a form of criminal violence. There is a gray area where many think that acquaintance rape is not as serious, criminal, or traumatic to the victim as much as stranger rape. Many assume that it is not “real rape,” and reality betold, rape is a felony crime, regardless of the offender’s relationship to the victim. Both acquaintance and stranger rape are equally as serious and devastating to victims.

According to the Centre County Women’s Resource Center, there are several steps students can take to avoid or prevent acquaintance rape:

  • Know your sexual intentions and limits. Communicate them clearly.
  • Remember that your partner cannot read your mind.
  • Keep in mind that some people think that drinking heavily, wearing certain clothing, or agreeing to be alone with them indicates a willingness to engage in sex.
  • Trust your gut feelings.
  • Ask for help or “make a scene” if you feel threatened.
  • Be especially careful in situations involving the use of drugs or alcohol.
  • When going out, surround yourself with friends that you can trust and agree to look out for one another.
  • Listen carefully to the person you are with in sexual situations.
  • Ask your partner what he or she wants.
  • Get verbal consent from your partner.
  • Resist peer pressure to do things you do not want to do.
  • Get involved if you think someone else around you may be in trouble.

If a student has a friend who has been sexually assaulted, here is how they can be of help:

  • Let your friend know right away that you care and want to help.
  • Do not blame the victim.
  • Encourage your friend to visit The University of Akron’s Counseling Center and seek medical assistance within 72 hours of the assault.
  • Remember that your friend has been through an emotionally painful and traumatic experience.
  • Be patient and understanding.
  • Respect your friend’s confidentiality and privacy.

Last but not least, remember to take care of yourself. Talking to a counselor can help you understand the emotions you are having and better understand what your friend is going through.