We can all help prevent sexual assault, and as the school year starts again this fall, there is no more critical time to learn how. For college students, sexual assault is a problem that affects a large portion of students every year. Undergraduate women aged 18 to 24 are three times as likely to be a victim of sexual assault compared to the rest of the female population. If you’re a college student, learning how to intervene in situations can help keep you and your friends safe. Being an advocate and stepping in to help can make a difference, but you should only attempt to intervene if you feel comfortable. If you feel that someone’s safety is in jeopardy, including your own, call the police.
Here’s what you can do to prevent sexual assault as a college student.
If you are unsure whether someone is in a situation that could lead to sexual assault, the best thing to do is ask them. Questions like “are you alright?” and “do you need me to stay with you?” can signal to the person in need as well as a predator that you’re watching.
Create a Distraction
Creating a distraction without confrontation is another strategy that can prevent sexual assault. By disrupting the conversation of those around you and drawing attention to yourself, you can provide someone in trouble with an opportunity to leave the situation and ask for help. If you’re at a party, you can suggest that it would be fun if everyone got together to play a game. Bringing out fresh snacks and offering them to everyone, the person at risk included, can also defuse the situation. You can also suggest that you and the person at risk leave to find something more fun to do, but if you actually leave, make sure that you have an escort. If your campus has a safe ride program, call them to pick you up.
Ask for Help
Approaching a potentially dangerous situation alone can be intimidating. If you want to help but don’t think you should do it on your own, ask one or two people to help you. Explain the situation to them so they know what’s going on. There is strength in numbers.
Prevent Sexual Assault by Speaking to an Authority
Sometimes risky situations warrant seeking someone with authority to intervene on your behalf. Your RA or campus security should be willing to help you if you think someone is in trouble. If you’re at a bar, ask the bartender or other staff for help. They want to ensure that their patrons are all safe. Don’t hesitate to call 911 if none of the above options resolve the situation.
Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to prevent sexual assault. But that doesn’t mean that the people responsible, including the college or university itself, shouldn’t be held responsible. If you are a victim of sexual assault and want to go over your legal options, call RRBH Law today. We will treat you and your case with the sensitivity and respect that it deserves.