The following is an exerpt from Beth Rich’s article “Sexual Assault on Campus: Awareness and Prevention“. At the end of this article you can find resouces at UGA.
What is Sexual Assault?
Both general and legal understandings of sexual assault are important. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities such as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.”
RAINN uses the term “sexual violence” as an all-encompassing, non-legal term to describe crimes including sexual assault, rape, and sexual abuse. Their page describing types of sexual violence is a helpful resource that includes information on sexual assault, child sexual abuse, sexual assault of boys and men, intimate partner sexual violence, incest, drug-facilitated sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, sexual abuse by medical professionals, sexual exploitation by helping professionals, multiple-perpetrator sexual assault, elder abuse, sexual assault of people with disabilities, prisoner rape, military sexual trauma, and more.
RAINN includes the following statements in their discussion of types of sexual violence:
- Sexual assault can take many different forms and be defined in different ways, but one thing remains the same: sexual assault is never the victim’s fault.
- A perpetrator can have any relationship to a victim, and that includes the role of an intimate partner.
- Men and boys who have been sexually assaulted or abused may also face some additional challenges because of social attitudes and stereotypes about men and masculinity.
- You should be able to feel comfortable in your place of work or learning. If you are being sexually harassed, you can report it to the authorities at your job, school, or to local law enforcement.
- Some perpetrators use technology, such as digital photos, videos, apps, and social media, to engage in harassing, unsolicited, or non-consensual sexual interactions.
- Consent is crucial when any person engages in sexual activity. The legal definitions for terms like rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse vary from state to state. Consent often plays an important role in determining whether an act is legally considered a crime.
RAINN offers the following statistics that illustrate the scope of this issue:
- Every 98 seconds, another American is sexually assaulted.
- One out of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed, 2.8% attempted).
- About 3% of American men — or one in 33 — have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.
RAINN provides these statistics on campus sexual violence:
- 11.2% of all undergraduate and graduate students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.
- Among undergraduate students, 23.1% of females and 5.4% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.
- Among graduate and professional students, 8.8% of females and 2.2% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.
- 4.2% of students have experienced stalking since entering college.
- College women are twice as likely to be sexually assaulted than robbed; for all women there are five robberies for every four sexual assaults, whereas for college women there are two sexual assaults for every one robbery.
- More than 50% of college sexual assaults occur in either August, September, October, or November. Students are at an increased risk during the first few months of their first and second semesters in college.
How do we deal with Sexual Assault?
Understanding the definitions surrounding sexual assault, as well as some key statistics, is an important first step in acknowledging the severity of the problem. It can also be the basis for more open and honest conversations around this topic. But it is also only a first step. Learning how to deal with sexual assault in a real-world situation is critical. Different actions are appropriate for different people and scenarios. In this section, we’ll outline actionable steps that we can take as communities, campuses, and individuals to help prevent sexual assault, as well as steps that should be taken when sexual assault has occurred.
Preventative Steps We Can All Take
- Be prepared:
This is a key way to practice and create safety. Identify campus resources, like the campus health center, campus police station, and a local sexual assault service provider before you need them. Memorize a few phone numbers in case your phone dies or is lost and you need to call someone for help. Memorize the address to your dorm room or apartment. Keep sets of spare keys, and take other measures to ensure that you have a means of contacting others for help and transportation should an emergency arise.
- Be alert and secure:
This doesn’t mean stay fearful. Ideally you can move throughout your campus and the world without feeling fear or a sense that you are unsafe. It is a good idea, however, to stay alert and aware of your surroundings as well as to take safety measures when possible. Consider walking with a friend or classmate; avoid getting fully submerged in a message, app, or music as you walk or sit; and lock your doors, windows, and car when you’re away or asleep.
- Consider social
It’s possible to have a good time and prioritize safety. That being said, it is never a victim’s fault when assault happens in a social setting, like a party or bar. What you wear, what you drink, or your sexual behavior are never the cause of sexual assault nor do they warrant sexual engagement without consent. However, there are some precautions that you can take that may help improve safety for you, your friends, and your peers. The following tips can help you stay safe in social settings:
- Make a plan:
Know who you’ll come and go with, and if your plans change, let someone you trust know.
- Protect your drink:
Don’t leave your drink unattended, and help your friends watch their drinks if possible. If you go somewhere, take your drink with you or toss it out. Limit yourself to drinks from unopened containers or those that you saw being made and poured. If in doubt, don’t drink the beverage in question.
- Know your limits:
Keep track of substances you’ve consumed and encourage your friends to do the same. If you or a friend feels more tired or intoxicated than you feel comfortable with, find a safe place to recover, even if that means leaving a party or venue.
- Trust yourself:
RAINN states, and we want to reiterate:
“You are never obligated to remain in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, pressured, or threatened.”
Trust yourself, and if you feel that you or a friend are unsafe, give yourself permission to say or do whatever you need to get out of the situation. Lie if you need to. You might say that you need to take care of another friend or family member, that you’ve received an urgent phone call, are not feeling well, or have to be somewhere else by a certain time.
Resources on UGA’s Campus
Pulled from safeandsecure.uga.edu/sexual-assult/
24-Hour (University Community) Confidential and FREE Support Services:University Health Center
- Relationship & Sexual Violence Prevention (RSVP) — 706‑542‑SAFE (706-542-7233)
- Counseling & Psychiatric Services (CAPS) — emergencies — 706‑542‑2200
Additional UGA resources: University Health Center
- Women’s Clinic– medical treatment — 706‑542‑8695
- Counseling & Psychiatric Services (CAPS) — short term counseling — 706‑542‑2273
Aspire Clinic — 706-542-4486 Center for Counseling and Personal Evaluation — 706‑542‑8508, Psychology Clinic — 706‑542‑1173 Family Violence Clinic — 706‑369‑6272 Members of the following UGA offices are designated as confidential support employees for incidents and allegations of sexual assault. Absent circumstances indicating an imminent threat of harm to an individual member of the University community or the University community as a whole, these confidential support employees are not required to disclose information that identifies a sexual assault survivor or third-party complainant:
- Office of Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention (RSVP) The RSVP office offers 24-hour, free, and confidential advocacy support to student survivors of interpersonal violence. RSVP advocates can provide emotional support, safety planning and crisis intervention, coordination with medical services for emergency care, testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and emergency contraception, as well as coordination of academic and housing accommodations. RSVP also offers counseling services and a free survivor support group. RSVP advocates can accompany a survivor for treatment, formal reporting, and discuss options 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The RSVP hotline is 706-542-SAFE (7233). RSVP services are free and confidential. RSVP advocates serve all student survivors regardless of age, gender, or sexual orientation. This office is located on the first floor of the University Health Center. More information can be found at www.uhs.uga.edu/rsvp/rsvp-intro.
- Student Care and Outreach Provides individualized assistance to students experiencing hardship circumstances. More information can be found online.
- University Ombudspersons Designated individuals who serve as independent, neutral, and informal resources for UGA students, faculty, and staff. More information can be found online.
Additional support services through Athens Area resources:
- The Cottage: Sexual Assault Center 24-Hour Crisis Hotline: 706‑353‑1912 (local), 877‑363‑1912 (toll-free) Offers a confidential 24-hour crisis and information hotline, crisis counseling, medical and legal advocacy, counseling referrals for survivors of sexual assault, support for secondary survivors (friends and family members of sexual assault survivors).
- Project Safe 24-Hour Hotline: 706‑543‑3331 Offers 24-hour confidential information and domestic violence services.