Sexual assault is nothing new on college campuses throughout the world. This article is about sexual assault that occurs between people who know each other and is related to alcohol and drug use. A typical scenario, friends talk about a party tonight and mention that the person in your math class that you like is going to be there. You instantly decide that you want to go. Once at the party you begin drinking and find your crush. The two of you begin talking, laughing, flirting and drinking. Then the next thing you know you are waking up in the morning, in bed with the crush and not sure how you feel about this.
Along with a headache, dry mouth and all the other symptoms of a hangover, you both are puzzled and probably have regrets. Did you agree to have sex? Sexual assault is any type of sexual activity that a person does not agree to. A drunk person cannot give consent. This is sexual assault.
It has been happening for years and will probably continue to happen, unless we do something about it. When we were younger, our parents and teachers always advised us to stay away from strangers. It’s ironic when we consider that we are finding ourselves in a dangerous situation, not with a stranger, but with someone we know.
Now, what can we do about it? Taking a few precautionary steps and making plans before going out can make the night go smooth and hopefully keep everyone safe.
One plan is to buddy up when you go out. Make sure you all keep an eye out for each other. When you see a friend who has reached their limit cut them off. Tell whoever is serving the drinks as well to make sure they do not continue to serve them. Do not be afraid to intervene if you see a friend in a bad situation and when it is time to go, do not leave without the friends you came with. This includes not allowing your friend to leave with that guy or girl whom they barely know or just met.
Next, learn to trust your instincts. If a situation feels uncomfortable, trust your intuition and do not be afraid of making a scene or calling attention to yourself. Being a little embarrassed is far better than you or your friend being assaulted.
Before going on a date communicate your limits. Let your partner know what you are and are not willing to do. If your partner is trying to pressure you into anything that crosses your limits say no to your date/partner. Make your statements short, clear and audible. Maintain direct eye contact and use facial expressions and gestures to add emphasis.
If you ever find yourself threatened with rape by either a stranger or acquaintance you should use your best judgment on how to react. Some experts recommend that you make as much noise as possible, but this is only helpful if there are people close by who can and will come to your rescue.
Just remember that preserving your life is the most important goal. No matter what you do during the assault, you are not the guilty party.
Sexual assault in all forms is a complex and painful experience. Any combination of legal, medical, psychological, religious and family responses can be used to help with the feelings that appear after an assault. The common feelings include fear, anxiety, rage, depression, and even guilt. If it’s a matter of knowing your attacker it can be even more difficult to cope with because being attacked by someone whom you at one point trusted can lead you to questioning your own judgment.
Some feelings that come as a result of assault may not become apparent for days, weeks, months, or even years. Counseling and support services have proven to be helpful and can quicken your recovery. You do not need to go through the aftermath of sexual assault alone. On campus resources include: The Women’s Center 610-436-2122, The Counseling Center 610-436-2301, Student Health & Wellness Center, 610-436-2509, Public Safety 610-436-3311 and The Chester County Crime Victims Center 610-692-1926, with walk-in hours in the Student Health Center every Tuesday from 4:30-6:30.
Dionna Childs is a West Chester student. She can be reached at DC637047@wcupa.edu.