What your college freshman needs to know about sexual assault
Entering college is one of the most exciting times in any girl’s life. Her friends, parents, and favorite magazine all give great advice about how to manage her soon-to-be busy schedule, which clubs she should join, and all the must have dorm accessories. But not having the latest and greatest desk and room essentials is not the most important advice to give a freshmen girl, instead it is talking about the very real chance that her or someone she knows will be a victim of sexual assault during her time in college.
Women attending college are at higher risk to be a victim of sexual assault than in other times of her life for many reasons. For one, eighteen year olds most likely are not use to being in large groups with the opposite sex, completely unsupervised. Along with new found freedom of making their own decisions, college is largely the first time teens experiment with alcohol and heavy partying. Without extreme caution, the two factors together could be the perfect storm.
Your daughter needs to know that it can happen to her:
Rape is not something that just happens in college movies or fraternity houses. A 2014 study conducted by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault found that one in five college students experience sexual assault during their college career. That statistic will probably bring a reality check, but still many girls figure the ones who experience sexual assault are doing something wrong-they are sorority girls that hang out with too many boys or they party too much..WRONG. Of course drinking alcohol can blur judgment and cloud memory but she needs to know it can happen to anyone and anytime.
Once you have established that statically an assault will happen between her or her four closest friends, she needs to know how to avoid becoming a victim. My mom isn’t stupid, she knew that when I was in college I was drinking alcohol and going to fraternity parties every weekend. She also knew she would be wasting her breath if she told me to not drink or party at all. What she did tell me however may seem obvious, but possibly made the difference between being me being a victim or not:
1. Know your alcohol limit. This is definitely easier said than done but it is a must. Count your drinks, make a note of how many drinks you are consuming and know how much alcohol content is in each drink. An intoxicated girl to the point of unconsciousness is just too easy for a predator.
2. Date Rape. It is unsettling to think that there are men who go out and buy date rape drugs with the full intent to slip them in a girls drink and take advantage of her, but it happens. Watch your drinks always, and never accept a drink from someone if the drink is brought to you or it was ever out of your sight. Side note: uncommon yes, but remember that date rape drugs don’t have to be slipped into alcoholic drinks, it could be in anything.
3. Come and go with trustworthy friends. When you do go out for a night on the town or to a house party, go home with the friends you came with. This way they can make sure you are safe and you are where you’re supposed to be.
4. Always be aware! Know that it does not have to be a stranger in a trench coat that drugs you or takes advantage of you; anyone you know can be a perpetrator. Reports from the same study made by the White House Task Force state that about 38% of rape incidents are committed by a friend or acquaintance of the victim. Rule out no one as a possible predator!
It is important that your daughter knows that rape victims are never at fault. There is advice to avoid being a victim but unconsented sexual assault is always wrong. Many times after a rape case surfaces some people jump to ask: Was alcohol involved? What was she wearing? Was she in a sorority? Was it her boyfriend? What if she led him on?
No one is asking to be sexually assaulted based on what she is wearing or how drunk she was. Sexual assault is never okay!
Take the opportunity to talk about this issue because the topic is RARELY ever discussed with high school students going into college. Likewise, in college there are no courses for boys on consented sex and no courses on being aware of sexual assault for girls. Just talking to your daughter about the chance of sexual assault can prepare her for a safer college experience.