September is National Campus Safety Awareness Month and schools during this campaign are mindful in notifying students of the safety challenges and security threats existing on campus. In preparing for this transition back to school, students need to take these recommendations seriously and must also find independent strategies for staying safe, especially when it involves combating sexual violence. According to the latest numbers from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 20% of female students and 7% of male students are sexually assaulted while in college. Particularly troublesome is that more than 90% of college sexual assault victims do not report the assaults.
Our goal is to educate and empower students, families, and communities with strategies to prevent victimization. In the unfortunate instance when an assault does occur, we must also provide support and ensure that the appropriate services are available to the victim. Together we can make a difference by starting a conversation about sexual assault prevention and striving to ensure that safety planning becomes the personal responsibility of all individuals, both on and off campus.
Who is the campus sexual offender and how do they operate?
Unfortunately, sex offenders are often thought to be lurking behind buildings or hiding in bushes in preparation to ambush their victims. In reality, the sexual offender blends into society and can as likely be a close friend, neighbor, trusted associate, advisor, or love interest. Perpetrators are consistent in seeking out the most vulnerable victims, who may be intoxicated as evident by the National Collegiate Date and Acquaintance Rape statistic, which indicates that 90% of acquaintance rapes involve alcohol. In addition, the perpetrator relies on manipulation, coercion, threats, blackmail, or force to carry out their crime.
What risk mitigation strategies should be considered?
Avoid alcohol and drugs, your best defense is to have a clear mind. Trust your instincts. Understand red flags, if you feel scared, uncomfortable, or pressured, act quickly to end the situation. Say “Stop” and leave or call for help.
BE AWARE – TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS – BE ASSERTIVE
Why are rapists getting away with rape?
In order to be convicted of rape, the individual must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If there is no witness, no memory, no visible injuries, no evidence, and no report, it’s a perfect crime. Even with all the evidence, it still can be a challenge to convict a perpetrator. This is why so many offenders are released and victims only revictimized. In order to reverse this trend, we need to create better synergy between the police, first responders, social services, and medical personnel to ensure that all resources come into play in support of the victim and the spotlight remains on the deplorable behavior of the perpetrator and not the actions of the victim.
Empowering a victim with a path toward healing.
Don’t suffer in silence, reach out to an Advocate who is waiting to help at a Rape Crisis Center. Steps that may help include going to the Hospital, collecting evidence, including a rape kit, reporting the incident to the police, pressing charges, and working with a victim advocate to help with the process. This life-changing experience is best articulated in this victim impact statement, which reminds us that the pain radiates through the body, mind, and soul and the trauma continues well after the crime has been committed.
Advocates are available 24/7 to help guide victims toward the path of healing and although the process is not perfect, agencies have made great strides in providing trauma-informed and victim-centered assistance. We must also look at mitigating the dangers we face by not solely relying on and placing our safety in someone else’s hands, but by empowering ourselves and taking control of our own safety, we will become our own safety advocate.
Empower yourself with a plan in place and strategies to stay safe.
Empowerment comes from knowledge and student safety depends on how this knowledge is used to navigate their experience at college.
Students are wise to invest in a pre-college security assessment. that includes analysis of local crime hot spots, lodging security, sexual assault trends, and cultural nuances, which may place certain individuals at a higher risk for victimization. This is especially important when the student is involved with a study abroad program. In addition, the Rape Aggression Defense Class (RAD Class) is especially helpful in teaching self-defense skills. Check for locations and times at your local police department or by contacting RAD through their website.
If you would like more information on this topic or details regarding our Individual Student Safety Assessment or our Community Awareness Prevention Programs please contact info@GlobalSecureResources.com or GSR@GlobalSecureStudent.com If you are in need of help, there are Crisis Counselors who are waiting to help with confidential services. Remember you are not alone.
Carrie Pasquarello, CEO & Co-Founder of Global Secure Resources Inc. Carrie, manages the development of security standards, emergency action plans, safety protocols, and crisis intervention strategies for use by businesses, non-profit organizations, and individual consumers and directs the analytical preparation of the Individual Threat Assessment Plan (ITAP) and Safe Student Abroad Assessments (SSA). Using all the strategies she learned and refined from working with the U.S. Department of State, she shares real-life lessons from abroad and stories to illustrate the importance of being proactive to keep safe.