Campus Safety: Sexual Assault

While college campuses have low rates of most major crimes, there is one significant exception. Sexual assault on campus is unfortunately fairly common. In fact, about 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men report being sexually assaulted as undergraduates. A sexual assault is defined by the US Department of Justice as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.” It turns out that women in college are slightly less likely to be assaulted than 18-25 year old women who are not in school but college attending men are slightly more likely to be assaulted.

Most sexual assaults in college are not committed by strangers but by people who know and/or are partying with each other. Many of these assaults occur when one or both people involved have been drinking. It is an important responsibility of colleges to do whatever they can to educate students about maintaining a campus environment in which people treat each other safely and with mutual respect. To do this, many schools have set up educational programs around campus safety, respect and bystander training – in which they help students commit to respectful interactions and stepping in to support each other when someone is acting in a way that endangers or disrespects others.

But, there are several things people can do to lower their risk of sexual assault. Here are some tips:

Know your limits. Don’t feel pushed to drink more than you are comfortable with. If you are drunk you are at increased risk. Don’t feel you have to drink more to please others. If someone is trying to get you to drink more than you are comfortable with you should be concerned.

Trust your gut. If someone is trying to push you to drink or being more aggressive than you are ok with, or if in general you are feeling uncomfortable in a situation, it is ok to leave.

Go with friends and make a plan. If you are going to a party or going to be in a situation that you are unsure of, try to go with a friend (or several friends) so you can keep an eye on each other and have support in leaving if you or anyone else should feel uncomfortable. Make a plan about how you will communicate with each other if you want to leave.

Watch your drink. Unfortunately, sometimes people will add drugs to a drink to make you more sleepy or drunk than you otherwise would be. So, don’t take a drink from anyone you don’t know well and don’t leave your drink unattended in social situations unless you have a friend around to keep an eye on it.

Protect your friends. Many schools offer bystander training programs to teach you how to step in if your friend is in a difficult situation. Take this training if it is offered. In any case, if you are worried and cannot get yourself or a friend out of a difficult situation, call campus security.

Visit here to learn more about campus sexual assault.

Get Help Now

If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone right now, text, call, or chat 988 for a free confidential conversation with a trained counselor 24/7. 

You can also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.

If this is a medical emergency or if there is immediate danger of harm, call 911 and explain that you need support for a mental health crisis.