Resources: How to combat sexual assault on your campus

Contributed by Tyler Achilles, B.A.

Following the release of a recent study from the Department of Justice – estimating that 1 in 4 college-aged women will be the victim of rape or sexual assault before they graduate, and that women aged 16-24 are four times more likely to be assaulted than women outside of that demographic – campuses are under more pressure than ever before to educate students on sexual assault prevention.

Two women in discussion (focus on young woman)According to Joan Tabachnick, author of Engaging Bystanders in Sexual Violence Prevention (National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 2008), campus administrators are best served to shift the responsibility of sexual violence prevention from the victim to the school community.

Tabachnick said sexual violence prevention is best taught not solely from the perspective of potential victims, but those who may be a witness to potential sexual violent behavior. Make sure that both men and women are aware of what consent is, and what constitutes inappropriate or criminal behavior.

Moreover, students must be aware of what resources the university has in place if they become the victim of sexual violence. When should they contact an RA or campus security? When should they take the matter straight to the police? What guidelines does the university have in place to protect students from retribution from their attacker?

Campuses must also be prepared to protect victims. The Center for Public Integrity recently conducted a year-long study that found student victims often don’t report rape because they blame themselves or don’t realize that it was a crime. The study also discovered that victims fear their attackers will do it again if they report the assault.

The report concluded that often local authorities may shy away from such cases because they may be affected by one or both parties’ use of drugs or alcohol.

To protect potential victims, Tabachnick suggests campuses expand the scope of their sexual assault prevention training not merely to resident advisors or campus security, but to the entire student body. Educate the student body about state laws and community resources that are available if they are attacked.

MyStudentBody previously spoke with Ms. Tabchnick in 2008 in which she elaborated on strategies for minimizing sexual violence on campus. She was a primary consultant when we created MyStudentBody – Sexual Violence.

(If your institution subscribes to MyStudentBody, you can read the complete 2008 interview with Ms. Tabachnick in MyStudentBody – Admin by clicking “Read More” within the Interviews section. If you are not a subscriber to MyStudentBody you can request a guest pass to preview the site and check out the interview.)

The new MyStudentBody Essentials course includes a module that covers such concepts as identifying an act of sexual violence, bystander intervention and resources for seeking help. If you’d like to learn more about the program, we invite you to view our online demo.

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