Every two minutes, another American is sexually assaulted, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website. That means each year, more than 237,000 men and women are victimized. Eighty percent of them are under 30.
Britney Hilbun, sexual assault counselor at the East Texas Crisis Center, said it’s important for college students to be alert to prevent sexual assault.
“The more they know, if it happens to them, then they know what their options are,” Hilbun said. “If we try to educate people, then we make a ripple effect, and they will educate who they know.”
In college, it’s easy to accept rape or having too much to drink and passing it off as a one night stand.
“There’s this acceptance that it happens in college,” said Hilbun. “Because there was alcohol or drugs involved and being unsure … Consent is the key and because alcohol and drugs are involved, then consent is not there.”
TJC police officer and investigator, Corporal Peggy Scott explained what steps students can take to reduce the risk of a sexual assault happening.
“We are getting more and more lights on campus,” said Corporal Scott. “Always have their keys in their hands.”
The best way to carry car keys is between the index and middle finger and wrap the other fingers around the key. This way, the keys can be used as a weapon if someone attacks a student.
Corporal Scott went on to say that other safety measures include carrying a flashlight and knowing what buildings a student is in or near. Also, a student should have her phone in her other hand.
Other steps to take are walking with your head up, staying alert and being observant.
Corporal Scott said, “You are less likely to be attacked if you walk with confidence and alertness.”
Rapists do not discriminate by gender, according to Hilbun. But she says some victims are embarrassed to admit this could happen to them.
“I’ve been here for a little over two years, and I’ve seen about five to six men for sexual assault counseling,” she said.
The counselor added that some people don’t know that indirect forms of harassment also fall under the sexual assault umbrella. She said when people respect themselves, they won’t let people talk about their bodies in a sexist or joking manner.
“Having self-respect is knowing you’re worth more, and you’re more than just a big butt or big boobs,” Hilbun said. “If we allow men or even women to say those things and not have consequences or put a stop to that, then it’s just going to continue.”
Statistics from the Crisis Center during 2013 show that 206 people received services, but that may be a low figure since everyone who is assaulted does not come in for counseling.
RAINN.org states that 60 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.
This year on campus from April 8-10, TJC will be hosting awareness week. TJC Campus Police, Residential Life and Housing, and Student Affairs will be passing out ribbons, making pamphlets available for more information and a chance to be educated about sexual assault, domestic violence, and “Enough is Enough,” which is a nationwide event to stop campus violence.
Corporal Scott said if a crime happens at TJC, to call Campus Police instead of the Tyler PD since campus police are certified police officers. The number for TJC Campus Police is 903-510-2222.
Sexual assault not only affects the victim, but also the people close to the victim. Contact the East Texas Crisis Center at 903-509-2526, the 24-hour hotline is 800-333-0358. RAINN.org’s hotline is 1-800-656-HOPE.