After a particularly lovely Sunday Funday enjoying one of the last weekends of summer, one of my close friends and her daughter decided to linger a little longer. (Girl Scout cookies anyone?)
Her daughter will be leaving the nest soon to attend college – very far away. With every parent facing the prospect of their child hurdling this milestone, there are worries. We don’t know exactly what their adventures, challenges, or even their successes will be. They won’t come home at the end of the day to share their concerns and issues with you. You won’t be able to look them in the eyes and get a sense of their mood. It’s a difficult transition – for adults as well as youth.
Young adults moving on to college, or even moving to their own space, will be faced with issues beyond “are my socks clean?” The issues may be life-changing – for better or worse. Not only will they have to worry about laundry, but they are responsible for getting themselves to class and they will take on financial responsibilities. Socially, they will meet new people with different life experiences and perspectives. They will develop life-long relationships, begin attending parties not supervised by adults, and start dating people that parents have not met. These young adults will have to rely on their own common sense and judgement when it comes to making decisions. But as we all know.
As responsible adults, we have done what we can to make them accountable for their actions. But then again, so did our parents when we were that age. And we all know how well THAT turned out, right? Admit it….you made some, um, “interesting” choices back in the day, too.
The best thing is to arm them with information, advice, support, and love….because the issues facing our young adults are not always as mundane as clean socks…..and the topic I want to discuss is pretty intense.
So, when my friend asked me to talk to her daughter about campus rape, I looked at this beautiful and sweet young woman and thought to myself:
“Going back in time, when my own daughters were leaving for their new life adventures, what did I tell them? What would I tell them now – after all the research and understanding I have of the topic?”
It is an incredibly serious and scary topic, but we do not want to send them into the world untrusting and afraid of what lies ahead. However, knowledge is power, and the more they understand, the safer they might be. At least that is how I feel.
When my oldest left for college 9 years ago, then the next one 3 years later, then the “baby” 3 years after that, my advice was the same for each.
“Always go out with friends, never alone; always return home with the same friends, never leave anyone behind. Ever.”
“Never set your glass down and walk away. Never let someone serve you a drink. You never know what they put into that cup while you weren’t looking.”
Pretty succinct advice – short, practical, and easy to follow. In fact, I would still offer that advice. 100%. I would offer this to both males and females – no one is excluded from being victimized.
However, the statistics are alarming. The stories are disturbing. And the aftermath of a rape/sexual assault is, well, you wouldn’t believe it if I told you. There have been numerous reports over the years about campus rape: Who are the victims? Who are the perpetrators? Where does this happen? What factors are involved? Who is at fault? And what kind of help is available for the victims?
100% of the time it is NOT the victim’s fault.
100% of the time, the person who made the decision to assault is at fault. Period.
Historically, victims of sexual assault not only have to deal with the assault itself, but they also have to deal with a system that prefers to push the issue under the rug.
Please take a few minutes to watch this video.
Campus Sexual Assault/Time.com
Recently there has been a push for colleges to make public the specific incidences of sexual assault reported on- and off-campus to encourage accountability. This push has inspired several mainstream magazines to report about the rape culture on campus, and what is – and is not – being done to enable students to learn and live in the safest environment possible. TIME magazine published a piece by Eliza Gray on May 26, 2014 about campus rape called “The Crisis in Higher Education”. Check out this TIME link for some great reading on the topic. Also, Rolling Stone magazine published an article called “Confronting Campus Rape” by Nina Burleigh on June 19, 2014.
A study was commissioned by the Department of Justice to find out exactly what is happening on college campuses. The following statistics are from that study: The Campus Sexual Assault Study
19% of women will be the victim of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault during college.
That’s almost 20%. One in five.
Of the study participants who had been sexually assaulted or an attempt was made:
- 89% had been drinking
- 61% of sexual assaults happened off-campus
- 58% of sexual assaults had been at a party
- 28% were assaulted by a fraternity member
- 2.3% of the time the victim suspected or was certain they were unknowingly drugged.
Other stats you should know:
- 85-90% know their assailant.*
- 6.4% of men commit sexual assaults. Half are repeat offenders – with an average of 6 rapes each.**
- 64% to 96% of all rapes are not reported to authorities.**
Interesting, isn’t it, that it’s the same guys repeating the crime. As reported in Gray’s article, it was found that the guys who are victimizing the coeds actually have a bit of a plan. They look for certain women to sexually assault. They are often attractive freshman and sophomores who are finally out from under an adult’s watchful eye. They may binge-drink and don’t yet know their safe alcohol limit. They are easy targets in which to encourage intoxication. Alcohol may make the victim unable to make a safe decision, or the perpetrator may take advantage of the young woman if she has passed out. The rapist understands that if alcohol is involved, the odds of being convicted of rape are low – after all, she was drunk.
Yes, alcohol is the weapon.
According to Northwestern University’s Women’s Center:
A person who is asleep or mentally or physically incapacitated, either through the effect of drugs or alcohol or for any other reason, is not capable of giving valid consent.
The use of alcohol or drugs may seriously interfere with the participants’ judgment about whether consent has been sought and given.
100% of the time it is NOT the victim’s fault.