Trigger Warning: This article contains content that some readers may potentially find distressing.
"Sexual assault doesn’t just include rape — it includes any form of unwanted sexual contact. It may or may not involve force. It can include grabbing or fondling. And yes, verbal threats can count." -Teen Vogue
Sexual assault and misconduct are very prevalent on college campuses; One in five women, and one in sixteen men will be sexually assaulted while they are in college. In the past, survivors would remain quiet about their assaults out of shame or fear. However, since sexual assault has become so pervasive it has become even more critical to spread awareness.
College campuses create communities which facilitate feeling safe, unfortunately there are people who choose to take advantage of the situation. It's important to know your resources on and off campus. Campus police and mental health services should have people who will be able to help if you wish to talk to someone. Some other resources for survivors include:
National Sexual Violence Resource Center Hotline - 1-877-739-3895
Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN) National Sexual Assault Hotline - 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
Safe Helpline for Sexual Assault Support for the DoD Community - 1-877-995-5247
All members of college communities can learn ways to step in and prevent sexual assaults, in addition to learning how to help survivors cope. It is important to lookout for your friends when you go out on the weekends, protect your drinks, have a plan for getting home, and never leave your friends in a questionable situation. Overall, just use your best judgment, and be a good friend.
Remember that consent is ALWAYS necessary. The lack of a "no" doesn't equal a "yes" and you are entitled to change your mind. Consent is about communication, and effective communication can help keep you out of questionable situations.
I hope you are able to participate in Sexual Assault Awareness Month activities on your campus, and that you help promote healthy relationships.