Oct 202003
Authors: Melissa Snow

Before I came to college, when I thought of Halloween I would

think of that smell in the air: a mixture of snow and burning

pumpkins. I would remember planning my costume based on the fact

that I was going to have to work a coat and gloves somewhere in the

mix, either under or over my costume. I would reminisce about my

dad trailing behind my sister and I with a trash bag so that we

could transfer our candy into it after every house because you

always get more candy if people think you don’t have any yet.

That was back in a world where the biggest safety concern was

going through the candy to make sure it hadn’t been opened yet, and

not eating anything that was homemade. That was back in a world

where the saddest thing about my Halloween was not being allowed to

eat Pixie Stix because my parents thought they could have cocaine

in them.

Now that I’ve been in college for four years, when I think of

Halloween I realize that’s its just another excuse for most of the

men to dress like women, the women to dress like sluts, and

everyone to get as intoxicated as they possibly can. I look back at

last year’s Halloween, and I remember how many times the drunken

nurse and his stethoscope groped me. I remember my friend locking

himself in his car and going to sleep, refusing to unlock the door

or leave the car even though it was below zero. I remember my

boyfriend throwing up in the front yard on my friend’s shoes, and I

realize how lucky it is that those are the worst things that

happened that night and I realize that other people probably

weren’t so lucky.

A report put out by the United Stated Department of Justice,

“The Sexual Victimization of College Women,” estimates that the

women at a college that has 10, 000 female students could

experience more than 350 completed rapes per year. This statistic

does not include attempted rapes and other forms of sexual assault,

nor does it account for the vast number of sexual assault crimes

that are not reported.

So what does this mean for you this Halloween? College campuses

host large concentrations of young women who are at greater risk

for rape and other forms of sexual assault than women in comparable

age groups. As with most holidays and other random excuses to

party, most of us will be out at the bars or at parties showing off

our Britney Spears costume and it is important to keep a few things

in mind. Watch out for yourself, and for your friends. If you are

going to drink make sure that at least one of your friends stays

sober so he or she can watch out for you. Its important to have a

ride home, and to have someone walk you to your car but also keep

in mind that for both completed and attempted rapes, 9 in 10

offenders were known to the victim. So, as careful as you are, you

may still find yourself in a less than ideal situation. Keep in

mind that the legal definition of rape and sexual assault is quite

different from the man jumping out from behind the bushes with a

gun that the media portrays. Sexual assault can be anything from

unwanted touching to sex with a person who is too intoxicated to

consent. If you find yourself in any situation where you are even

questioning what happened, there are many resources available both

on campus and off. Many women do not report sexual assaults because

they do not characterize their sexual victimization as a crime for

a number of reasons, such as embarrassment, not clearly

understanding the legal definition of rape, or not wanting to

define someone they know who victimized them as a rapist, or

because they blame themselves for the sexual assault.

I, myself, was one of those women. Four years ago at a Fourth of

July party I had a “date rape” drug slipped into my Kool-Aid. I

remember getting into the swimming pool and the next thing I knew I

was upstairs and my ex-boyfriend was having sex with me. I never

reported it, or even told anyone because I figured that it was my

fault: I should have been more careful. I didn’t classify it as

rape, because I couldn’t think of my ex-boyfriend as a rapist.

Since that day I have realized the horror of what took place that

night and I wish I could have realized it sooner. I share this

story with you hoping that if this Halloween, or any other time in

your life you should find yourself in an unwanted sexual experience

that you will remember my story, and the millions of others like

it, and you will make the choice to do your part to stop it from

happening again.




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