Health & Wellness

In the RED

By Marie MacKay, Published: Wednesday, September 7, 2005, in the Utah Statesman
 
In Utah, one in eight women will be a victim of rape.
 
But members of Utah State University's Sexual Assault and Anti-Violence Information office are trying to prevent rapes before they happen by sponsoring a Red Zone Awareness Day Wednesday (Sept. 7) on the Taggart Student Center Patio.
 
The event is aimed at helping students prevent sexual assault and rape on campus. As part of the day's activities, several exhibits will be set up on the TSC Patio from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The activities will be aimed at building awareness of sexual assaults and rapes on college campuses during Red Zone and informing students of campus resources available to them.
 
Gift certificates and prizes will also be awarded to those who fill out and enter a short quiz involving the various exhibits.
 
"This is something we need to be aware of," Rachel Hickman, SAAVI coordinator, said. "We want people to understand that sexual violence is a problem and there are services available."
 
As a general trend, the risk of college students being victims of sexual assault or rape increase starting in August and ending in November. This period has been dubbed "Red Zone," Hickman said.
 
During this time, college women - particularly freshmen and sophomores - are at the highest risk of sexual assault.
 
"Many are adjusting to life away from their parents' homes for the first time and experimenting with their freedom," said Hickman.
 
Particularly in Utah, the Utah Commission on Criminal Juvenile Justice found that one in three women will experience some form of sexual assault during their lifetimes.
 
"When it comes to sexual violence, [rape] is the one violent crime where we [Utahns] are well above the national average," Hickman said.
 
Women can avoid dangerous situations by letting someone else know where they will be for the night and make sure they have a way to get home on their own, she said.
 
However, most often people are victimized by someone they know. According to the same survey by the Utah Commission on Criminal Juvenile Justice, only 8.6 percent of Utah victims were attacked by a stranger.
 
Women should always clearly communicate their sexual boundaries, say "no" when they are uncomfortable and be assertive. Men should also pay close attention and know when to stop. They should also speak up when they see other men degrading women in any way, Hickman said.
 
"One thing I would like to point out is that we can reduce risk, but there's never a guarantee that you won't experience sexual violence," Hickman said.
 
Melissa Larsen, rape crisis coordinator for Community Abuse Prevention Services Agency in Logan, said that in the majority of rape cases, alcohol was involved during the incident and there was a period of time when the victim cannot remember.
 
"Make sure that somebody is with you at all times - it is easy to lose track of what you're doing and where you are," Larsen said.
 
Working together with CAPSA, members from the SAAVI office hope the day's activities will at least heighten people's awareness of this growing problem and the resources available.
 
At the local level, victims can contact CAPSA. It provides a 24-hour crisis intervention and community referral telephone line, emergency shelter, food, clothing and household supplies.
 
"We're an abuse prevention agency - we do advocacy work for victims of domestic violence and assault," Larsen said. "We make the process of little bit easier for them."
 
On USU's campus, there is the One in Four program, which is an all-male peer education group that teaches other college men about rape and sexual assault.
 
"It lowers the likelihood that men will be coercive toward sexual assault," said Hickman.
 
Women can also join the rape aggression defense course on campus, which teaches them to use their own strength to defend themselves.
 
Students can also contact the SAAVI office at 797-1510 for additional information about sexual assault or rape or visit the Web.
 
Students walking

Media Credit: Ryan Talbot. BE AWARE: Only 8.6 percent of sexual assaults are committed by a stranger.

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