It's called the "rape" culture. An environment that 'call's for rape. College parties, girls in pretty dresses, lots of alcohol. All a recipe for possible disaster.
According to a new report released earlier this week by the Association of American Universities, 1 in 4 women say they are sexually assaulted before they graduate; this based on responses from 150,000 students at 27 top universities polled last spring. ( Sexual assault is defined as any involuntary sexual act in which a person is coerced, or physically forced to engage, against their will)
This number was so staggering the White house created a task force to investigate and to see what can be done. What they discovered was even worse.
Their first report, called "Not Alone," discovered that 3 out of 4 women sexually assaulted are lower class-men, freshman or sophomores, and 84 percent of the time the perpetrator is another student. In the majority of cases, the victim knows her attacker, whether as an acquaintance, classmate, friend or (ex)-boyfriend.
All this to say, daughter beware. Son's be gentlemen. Rape is not cool nor a way to get what you want. It damages the soul of a precious human being. It's not a game or prize to be won.
Moms and Dad's prepare your children for the signs of possible collusion that lead to forced sex. It's starts very innocently - a flirty smile here, a wink there and the next thing you know, this handsome young man is standing next to you, talking, asking you all about you. Innocently, he offers to get you a drink and the next thing you know, you wake up in a strange place, possibly half clothed with a massive headache and afraid, 'wondering what the heck happened?'
It's embarrassing - I should know. It happened to me. The interesting thing is I didn't discover it until 30 years later having a conversation with my daughter.
We were discussing dating, college and the prevalence of date rape, and it hit me. It happened to me - started out innocently. We went out, had a few drinks...had a few more drinks, went back to my place. Willingly we engaged in sex....the next morning, I was woken up with him having his way with me...all while I'm asleep!
I was shocked at first - then realized what was happening. By the time I did, his full body weight was on me and there was no where for me to go. Nothing for me to do. In that moment, I was helpless.
Now, one could argue, we were intimate the night before, it was 'his right' or he thought I'd 'enjoy' waking up like that....valid and very inaccurate. He didn't wake me up with gentle kisses and whisper sweet nothings in my ear. Nope - he did what he wanted, whether I wanted it or not. That is sexual assault.
It was embarrassing and I never said anything. Who would believe me anyway. We went home together the night before. No way to prove anything. And it was buried so far down, that it took a conversation with my daughter to provoke the thought some 30 years later.
I share this as an example of the data that has been provided. It's real and happens far more than most girls would like to admit. They'd be seen as lose, or worse. So they keep their mouth shut and live with the guilt and shame. Thinking somehow they are to blame.
You are not to blame. No one has the right to force themselves on you. Regardless if you were intimate the night before. There was no consent - that, is sexual assault or rape.
Here are some tips to keep you safe on Campus and out in the world of bars and parties:
1. Travel in pairs or more. Never leave your wing-woman alone to fend for herself.
2. Get your own drinks. Better yet, BYOB when you can - then you have control.
2a - Beware in bars as well. Bartenders can be in on this too. Have them open the beer or pour the drink in front of you. Never take a drink from a stranger or leave your drink unattended.
3. Have a designated 'driver' - and I'm not talking about a car. It's someone in your group who commits to staying sober and alert to ensure none of her friends are taken advantage of that night.
4. Take a cab or Uber or mass transit to and from parties. You got there on your own, no need to get a ride from a stranger.
5. Carry a pen, maze, whistle or some other protection in your purse.
A note to men - We get it. You like sex. Great. Here's the thing, when a woman says no, she really means it. There is no scenario where a man forcing himself upon a woman is it ok. We don't like it. It hurts and is shameful. It's not ok. Educate yourself on what constitutes rape or assault. Take part in the #StandUpGuy campaign. You'll be glad you did.
Lastly - call home to let your parents know you are ok. Call before you go to a big party and when you get home safe. If not your parents, your girlfriends. Trafficking happens at these parties too. A phone call to a loved one before you go out could save your life. The first 24 hours are crucial if someone goes missing..
To read more on the rape culture and to learn how you can raise awareness on your campus, check out these links.
College Rape Crisis
AAU Campus Survey on Sexual Assault
The Girl Code
Do Something Campaign - Stand Up Guy