According to statistics from CSU’s Women’s Programs and Studies Web site, one in four women on a college campus have been sexually assaulted and local assault counselors and law enforcement said to reduce this statistic, assault prevention education is key.
Experts said assault education is a must because students are generally unaware of how to protect themselves and of the resources available in the community and on campus. This point was illustrated when “Sexual Assault 101,” hosted as part of the Association for Student Activities Program’s “Sex Week” at CSU, was cancelled because of minimal turnout.
“I wish every incoming person could go through a sexual assault prevention program,” Monica Collins, the coordinator at the Office of Women’s Programs and Studies, said as a suggestion for a more effective anti-assault policy./
Sexual assault is any sexual contact without consent, and one CSU Police Department detective said most reported sexual assaults occur between a victim and a person they know and commonly involve alcohol.
“A vast majority of the cases reported to CSU police involve acquaintances as perpetrators, and almost all of them involve excessive alcohol abuse,” said CSUPD detective Adam Smith, who partners with departments across the university on a CSU emergency and crisis team dedicated to helping students.
The first two weeks of college are considered a time when students are away from home for the first time and are less familiar with their new surroundings. Perpetrators search for and prey on these vulnerabilities.
The Office of Women’s Programs and Studies responds to every sexual assault call the CSUPD does “if the victim is willing to have them present,” Smith said.
Collins and Smith both said students should be aware of their surroundings and take extra caution when partying.
“Know who you’re going out with and keep a support group with you,” Smith said, adding that if a student does go out, they should always do so with friends.
Both men and women can help prevent sexual assault./
“Look out for the guy at a party who doesn’t drink much and keeps bringing you drinks,” Collins warned.
The Men’s Project at CSU seeks to educate men on bystander intervention by teaching them signs that could lead to rape and assault situations as well as how to handle different situations./ For more information on the Men’s Project visit http://wps.colostate.edu/mens-project.aspx.
“I think sexual assault is disgusting,” said political science major and Men’s Project participant Cody Goings, who said his interest in sexual assault programs is rooted in his worry for his sisters. “Programs have opened my eyes to it, and I feel like there’s more men can do to help prevent it.”
Smith said there are a “thousand different scenarios and each case is different.” He said each assault case requires a specific response based on the individual.
Experts said if someone you know is sexually assaulted, it is important to be open and comforting to that person, but the most important thing is to believe them./Less than two percent of people lie about being sexually assaulted.
It is also important to remember that the assault is never the survivor’s fault.
Staff writer Ashley Robinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.