Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Rape Is A Reality: What College Students Should Know

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It is sad but true that on every campus, sexual assault exists and is the most common during the first few weeks of school, when everyone is a stranger and students are moving in and out, there are parties, and defenses are down. Talk to your college student about sexual assault and know what you can do if it ever happens to them.

Every college student needs to know how to avoid sexual assault.
To avoid being a victim
  • Always have enough cash to pay for your meal or movie or get yourself home, and carry a cell phone or calling card.
  • If you are going to a party or a bar, have a buddy who keeps an eye on you and notices anything unusual.
  • If a friend seems unusually sleepy or intoxicated after only one drink - take her home and stay with her.
  • Trust your instincts - if it feels weird - it is - change the situation, even if you have known the person for a while.
  • Do not allow yourself to become isolated from other people.
  • Never leave a drink unattended or drink something you did not watch be poured or open yourself.
  • Take a self-defense course and be assertive, not passive if things feel "funny."
  • Drink responsibly - most sexual assault on campus includes drinking.
  • If you are ever sexually assaulted go to the doctor immediately and then call the Rape Crisis Support on campus or the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), 1-800-656-HOPE, or visit RAINN on the Internet.
To avoid being a rapist
  • Be respectful. Ask if your partner is OK with your advances and know that "no," and "I don't know" both mean NO!!
  • Recognize that your sexual needs or desires do not give you the right to do whatever you want. If the other person is not capable of making a decision - stop.
  • Understand that what you "meant" does not matter - it is how a person takes your comments or gestures that matter - never touch someone without their explicit permission.
  • Drink responsibly - most sexual assault on campus includes drinking.
  • If you know a roommate or friend is sexually assaulting someone, you must stop it, or are just as guilty!
If your child is ever sexually assaulted, never doubt that it happened and listen as long as she or he wants to talk. First, make sure they are safe and not still in an unsafe situation then encourage them to seek medical care immediately. Second, let them stay in control - they have just experienced something that took away their control - having you swoop in and fix it will not help them deal with things - have them find a friend who will go with them to the doctor and then call RAINN yourself or the campus rape crisis unit. You may feel powerless, but they know you support them and love them - and that is what matters.

Photo credit: fabbio
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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