Why Does She Stay?
Teen Relationship Violence – Is your Child a Victim?

Sexual Assault on Campus: Female Students Need to Get Serious About Safety

Lillian's evening economic class was about to wrap up, and she was looking forward to getting back to her dorm.  It's been a long day of classes, and all Lillian wanted to do is get a good night's sleep.  She walked out the door with some other students, and they quickly went their own way.  The winter night air was colder than usual, and Lillian wrapped her coat tighter around her body.  The campus seemed endless as she walked toward where her car was parked. Lillian thought she heard footsteps behind her, and she looked over her shoulder and spotted two men in dark clothing keeping up with her pace.  Lillian's heart sped up a beat, and she knew she was in trouble.  It was dark and deserted at such a late hour, and there was no one around to hear her scream for help.  Lillian started running as fast as she could and when she finally reached her car, she franically fumbled for her keys in her bag.  Unfortunately, one of the men grabbed the keys out of her hand and the other one punched Lillian unconscious.  They dragged her into her own car and drove away.  Lillian was found the next day in a wooded area near the campus, bloody, beaten, raped and robbed but still alive.  The predators took her car, her purse and her capacity to ever live without the horror of what had happened to her.  Lillian recovered physically, but psychologically she was never the same and lived in fear every day.  Lillian reported the crime, but without an accurate description of the men who attacked her, there was little the police could do to bring these fiends to justice.  Her school didn't do much to help and failed to provide Lillian with any post-traumatic counseling and guidance.  Lillian felt let down and wondered why she even bothered to tell anyone about the assault.  She felt alone and scared.

Lillian is one of the one in five women who will experience a sexual assault while attending college, and most of the crimes will be commited by someone they know.  Lillian didn't know her attackers but in many cases, the victim knows the assailant. Statistics reveal that college-age women are 4 times likely to be sexually assaulted and 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape). (RAINN.org).  Non-profit organizations such as RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network) has educated over 1,000,000 students in all 50 states, DC, Puerto Rico, and Canada about preventing and recovering from sexual assault.  These programs are critical in the fight to prevent violence against women on campus and help those who are victims.

Many students feel they are invincible to anything bad happening to them, but this attitude must change through education and awareness. Here are some common-sense safety tips that all students, on and off campus should follow:

  • Avoid walking in dark, deserted areas and use a high-traffic and well lit path whenever traveling on foot.
  • Always travel in a group at all possible, especially at night.  When going to a party or going out to party, have a trusted friend or friends accompany you.  Never leave a party or bar alone or with someone you don't know.
  • Never leave drinks unaccompanied and do not let anyone get a drink from you.  Date Rape drugs are extremely popular these days ,and they work very quickly to render the victim unconscious.
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times and avoid being distracted while walking to your destination.  Keep a safe distance away from strangers who ask for the time (and they are wearing a watch) or request to use your cell phone to make an emergency call. 
  • Carry a personal protection device such as a pepper spray or stun gun to have a fighting chance to stop a violent attack.
  • Personal Alarms are affordable, portable and are great tools that will draw attention to yourself and scare away a predator in an attempted assault.
  • When leaving your dorm or apartment, make sure all windows and doors are locked. Inexpensive door and window alarms are available to help protect your home from break ins.
  • When entering your dorm or apartment building, check to make sure no one has followed you inside.  Once you are inside your apartment or dorm, turn on the light and quickly scan your surroundings to make sure nothing is out of place or suspicious. 
  • Make sure you check the area around, under and inside your vehicle to make sure there is no one hiding and waiting to attack.  Be cautious of vans parked next to your car, particularly on the driver's side. 
  • Always carry a charged cell phone that is turned on and ready to dial 911 if necessary.
  • If you are confronted by a potential attacker, start SCREAMING at the top of your lungs, "GET OUT OF HERE!" "FIRE!"  or anything else that will draw attention.
  • Check for local self defense classes that will teach you the tools and techniques to defend yourself against a violent attack.

It is also important for parents to investigate crime statistics on college campuses that your child may be attending.  Below are some more resources to able collect as much information as you need to help keep your child safe:

Security On Campus - an organization focused on campus safety issues

U.S. Department of Education college crime statistics, check out your school here.

Security On Campus police guide for date rape on campus

U.S. State Department country facts good for travelers or for reports and papers

U.S. State Department tips for traveling students

U.S. Government Publication tips for women traveling alone

U.S.Transportation Security Administration Travel security issues and a downloadable list of Permitted & Prohibited Items for airline travel.

U.S. State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs American Citizens Services offers government issued international travel safety advisories.


www.rainn.org, hotline number is 1-800-656-HOPE


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