Sexual Assault/Misconduct on College Campuses

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Public Safety.CrystalSnowIn 2005, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) commissioned a study relating to sexual assault on college campuses in the United States.

Based on the study, researchers reported that, “Sexual assault on the Nation’s college campuses has been receiving more attention lately. Schools are not the safe havens they once appeared to be; college women are at a higher risk for sexual assault than their non-college bound peers.”

Sexual assault is considered to be the most underreported violent crime in America. Counter to popular stranger rape myths, the vast majority of these crimes – between 80 and 90 percent – the victim and assailant know each other. In fact, the more intimate the relationship, the more likely it is for a rape to be completed rather than attempted.

Half of all student victims do not label the incident “rape.” This is particularly true when no weapon was used, no sign of physical injury is evident, and alcohol was involved – factors commonly associated with campus acquaintance rape. Given the extent of non-stranger rape on campus, it is no surprise that the majority of victimized women do not define their experience as rape.

Fewer than five percent of completed and attempted rapes of college students are brought to the attention of campus authorities and/or campus law enforcement. Failure to recognize and report the crime not only may result in underestimating the extent of the problem, but may also affect whether victims seek medical care and other professional help.

How can a person prevent being a victim of sexual misconduct?

  • Control your environment
    • Most of the sexual misconduct incidents end up being “he said – she said” situations. Don’t find yourself in a situation where it is your word against theirs. Always control your environment. Make sure there are others there that can be witnesses. There is safety in numbers.
    • Avoid the use of alcohol or drugs by yourself and by those that you are with. Drugs and alcohol will lower your ability to make good choices and will muddy the facts when the issue of consent is considered. At all cost, avoid using any alcohol or drugs and stay away from others if they are using drugs or alcohol.
  • Consent is an issue
    • What is consent for some sexual contact to one person may not be consent for another person. Is active or passive participation is pre-sexual intercourse activity consent? It may be for one person, but not for another.
  • Set clear sexual boundaries at the start of any relationship
    • Make sure you understand what your sexual boundaries are and then make sure you have communicated them to the person you are with. In this case, words may speak louder than actions!
  • Don’t just hang out…
    • Or allow others to just hang out late at night. Many reported sexual misconduct incidents happen when you are just hanging out. Don’t spend time in areas where someone has uncontrolled and unsupervised access to you no matter what time of day or night it is.
    • Report any and all incidents of sexual misconduct.
    • You can report these incidents to the campus or local police, go to the Wellness Center, go to a trusted college administrator, go to a trusted faculty member, go to a Residential Assistant, or to go to a trusted friend, but tell someone.


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