Most people in the country have heard the statistics, seen it in movies, or knows someone who knows someone who has been affected by rape or sexual assault. 1 in 5 American women have been raped or have had someone attempt rape in their lifetime1. Many people shrug this fact off and tell themselves over and over “well, it won’t be me so I don’t have to worry about it.” However, no one EVER thinks it will be them. No one plans to get raped or sexually assaulted.
A police officer recently spoke to me about the issue of sexual assault, especially in the Greek community and let me tell you, I was mortified. There have been multiple accounts of individuals telling victims not to report a sexual assault because “it happens” or “well, you were drunk and so was [the other person].” PSA: THIS IS NOT OKAY. It is not okay for anyone to minimize the horrific experience of sexual assault or rape (let alone your sister/brother/anyone ever). We all go to this university together. We have classes together, are in organizations together, and live our daily lives together. We are supposed to support each other and help each other when something bad happens. We are each other’s support system, confidants, best friends, and families while we are away from home.
Rape and sexual assault is an issue on college campuses nation-wide, but there are measures we can take to create a safer campus culture. First, recognizing that sexual consent is not sexual consent without the presence of an enthusiastic “YES” from all parties involved (note: you cannot consent if you are under the influence of alcohol). Additionally, working towards a campus free from sexually violent, perpetuating language is working towards a campus that is not desensitized to rape culture.
From a general safety point of view (and this applies to any kind of situation), RAINN offers a variety of ways to reduce your risk for violence on any college campus2. Consistently stay aware of your surroundings and stay with the group you came with. Remember to watch out for your friends (and vice versa), and trust your instincts. As a member of the undoubted best Greek community in the country, that is the University of Alabama, I know that we can be a strong component in ending sexual violence. We need to stand up for each other and be supportive so we can work towards ending sexual violence for good.
- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (2012).http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/sv-datasheet-a.pdf
- Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN). (2009). https://www.rainn.org/get-information/sexual-assault-prevention/social-situations