A Different Kind of Sexual Protection
College is a great place to go out into the world as a young independent woman, before actually hitting the reality of the real world. It is a place of challenges, friendships and some of the greatest love you will ever find. However, while women should go out and make some of their best memories and friends, they need to be aware that just because it’s not the “real” real world, it’s not completely void of the dangers that women on the streets of the busiest cities face.
The reality of the situation: (statistics compiled by the New York Coalition Against Sexual Assault)
• At least one in four women will be the victim of a sexual assault during her academic career.
• There are 35.3 incidents of sexual assault per 1,000 female students on a campus as recorded over a 6.91-month long period.
• At least 80% of all sexual assaults are committed by an acquaintance of the victim
• 48.8% of college women who were victims of attacks that met the study’s definition of rape did not consider what happened to them as rape.
The purpose of studies such as these that bring awareness to unknown statistics is not to scare women into not going to college or to make them believe that when they do go to college they will be just another number on a flyer somewhere. These numbers are to show women, that yes, sexual crimes do happen, but that they are not your fault, they are not okay and something must be done about it.
Not only can colleges and universities do something to educate men and women about sexual crimes, but women can also take measures to protect themselves from these heinous crimes. College campuses must publish an annual report including crime statistics, penalties for crimes committed and the university’s policies concerning these offenses. These reports and all policies concerning sexual offenses are made available to faculty, students and prospective students and employees. Knowing your college’s policies and punishments for crimes committed against you or someone you may know will help guide you to the best solution for the situation. However, you should not wait until you find yourself in this situation; it is important to know before you go. Being familiar with the guidelines will also help you stay out of a potentially dangerous situation and may help you define what exactly happened to you.
Being informed is the number one line of defense between you and a sexual assault. Knowing that many sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows is a harsh reality check. Thinking that you’re safe because you’re with guy friends and they will protect you is a false sense of safety. Going out for a night on the town with guy friends can turn into a nightmare. Being aware of whom you’re with and what your surroundings are is of the upmost importance when travelling without any girlfriends. Also, knowing your limit, and not exceeding it, is a huge factor in protecting yourself. If you do find yourself feeling uncomfortable or getting a little too tipsy, remove yourself from the situation by either calling someone you know or swapping ice water for alcoholic drinks in order to keep yourself hydrated and more aware. Make it very clear to a guy coming on to you that it is not a welcomed advance, it is not okay and it will not be tolerated. If he persists or threatens you, do not leave; you will risk having him corner you in an isolated area. Instead, tell someone, make them aware of the situation and call authorities.
I tell you all of this, not to scare you, but because sexual violence against women occurs at an unacceptable rate. As women, we have the right to go out, have fun and not worry about being attacked just as much as men do. Know the facts, protect yourself, educate others.
Cosmopolitan Magazine is working towards a safer college environment for women. Please visit www.cosmopolitan.com/campus-rape.
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