Sexual assault never seems like the type of thing that could happen to you, but it can. The Red Zone is generally known as the first six weeks of the semester, or from move-in day to the first break. During this time, female freshman are more likely to be sexually assaulted than at any other time in their college career.
The Red Zone is coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean that females on campus can let their guards down. Sexual assault is a serious and real thing. According to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, women between 16 and 20 have between a three and four times higher risk of rape than any other group. That statistic still stands outside of the Red Zone.
“You’re always at risk for it,” said Emily Rieser, a social work major who has been a peer educator with the Elise S. Shenk Center for Health Education and Promotion for three years. “People don’t realize it happens as often as it does.”
The Center for Health Education and Promotion exists to educate students on lifestyle choices. They have educational programs that cover a wide variety of topics, such as alcohol, body image, healthy relationships, nutrition, safer sex, stress and sexual assault. This center works to get strategies out to the university to reduce the risk of sexual assault.
“You hear things like ‘Cover your drinks’ or ‘Go out with friends,’” Rieser continued, “and that’s a great thing! But, it won’t always stop something from happening.”
The Center for Health Education and Promotion passed out and hung up fliers around campus to provide tips to students to reduce the risk of sexual assault. These tips are:
• Be Aware. Always be aware of your surroundings.
• Know your Boundaries. Be prepared to act quickly. Tell someone you are uncomfortable or leave.
• Trust your Instincts. Intuition is a valuable tool. If something feels wrong, it probably is wrong.
• Learn to be Assertive. Practice saying “No” without feeling guilty.
• Party Safely. Protect your drink. Know that alcohol is the number one Date Rape drug.
• Practice party group dynamics. Plan Ahead. Go together: Leave together.
There are no measures to take to prevent sexual assault. The only person who can prevent it is the attacker. Many times sexual assault occurs because people aren’t clear on consent. Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape states that in Pennsylvania an intoxicated person is unable to legally give consent. Silence is not consent. If someone is silent, it does not mean they are consenting to sexual acts.
It’s important to remember that victims of sexual assault are never to be blamed. It is not the fault of the victim that they were assaulted. Many victims of sexual assault don’t report it happening because they didn’t fight back against the attack or actively say “no.”
The Center for Health Education and Promotion is in the process of forming a men’s group to help promote awareness of sexual assault and urge men to learn what they can do to stop it. They need men to step up and join this new group. Sexual assault is not just a woman’s problem. Men too can be sexually assaulted, and if more men were better informed on the matter it would help to decrease the acts of sexual assault.
There are many places around campus for victims of sexual assault to seek help and advice. Health Services and The Counseling Center are the only places on campus where confidentiality can be maintained. The Center for Health Education and Promotion offers a safe environment for victims to talk with a peer about what’s happened to them, but cannot offer full confidentiality. These places will never turn away a victim of sexual assault. They are blame-free environments and it’s their job to make the victim feel empowered and comfortable; Emily Rieser prefers to use the term “survivor” instead of victim.
“Calling them a survivor is more empowering,” she said. “The attack is the past, and they’re now moving on from it. They’re not a victim anymore.”