It is Sexual Assault awareness month, and under the radar once again as reports of violence emerge from the University of Virgina. In a developing story, a young woman was assaulted by a known suspect. According to reports, the attack occurred between 12:30 and 1 a.m. on April 17, at a building close to the north side of the University of Virginia. The staff at the university acted swiftly, and have taken steps to investigate the matter and offer protection to the victim.
At a statewide conference, sexual assault was discussed at the Virginia chapter of the American Association of University Women on Saturday. Recent domestic violence and sexual assault charges have necessitated the need for awareness. The administrators are urged to pay particular attention to partner violence, in the wake of the killings of female students.
At the meeting, Claire Kaplan, the director of Gender Violence and Social Change program, said there was more awareness of the problem. Policies and sexual assault education programs are being taken seriously by colleges across the state, in light of the recent issues. Prompted by an article in a Rolling Stone magazine, awareness was brought to the fore. Investigations of sexual assault are a sensitive topic and alcohol usage among students is another problem. Often students do not report cases of abuse, in fear of ridicule and the insensitivity of law enforcement officers handling these cases.
Members at the meeting also discussed the shocking report of an unconscious woman being raped by multiple men in Panama City Beach, Florida. The story made national headlines this month, and a video of bystanders watching the ordeal did not shown any attempt to intervene, the police said. A member at the conference said the video showed that the students were intoxicated, and often this was a primary cause leading up to a sexual assault. Alcohol is a cause of problems and offenders often prey on young women who are incapacitated.
Bystander intervention was a topic discussed, and public campaigns are being rolled out across the country to teach people how to intervene in a risky situation. Training bystanders to intervene was necessary, as inadequate education of how to intercede in a situation could increase the risk of escalating the problem.
April is sexual awareness month, and reports confirm that one in five women in the United States has been sexually assaulted. The report includes one in four college students who have been targeted and raped. Another statistic was the amount of victims who were either linked romantically and others who knew the perpetrators. Alcohol played a significant role in most of the attacks. Shockingly it is estimated that over 70 percent of attempted or actual sexual assaults, are not reported to the police.
Police have offered some safety tips in light of the recent incidents, and advise students to either get verbal consent from a partner and never to assume what the other person wants. Students should never feel obligated to do anything they do not want to do. Listening to partners is essential, and noticing unclear messages could avoid an unnecessary assault.
Administrators of Universities should warn the members and guests of possible dangers on campus, as well as off campus sites zoned as risky. Discuss the probability of sexual assault with other members and understand what casual alcohol drink can do. Another step to defend future attacks is for students to change profiles in social media and declare allegiance to combating sexual assaults.
By Laura Oneale
Photo By – Timothy Jarrett – Flickr License