Did you know?
- A sexual assault occurs every six minutes in the United States (Department of Justice).
- In South Carolina a forcible rape occurs every 4 hours and 27 minutes (Office of Victim Assistance).
- According to a National Institute of Mental Health research project conducted on thirty-two college campuses, one in four women are victims of rape or attempted rape.
So, what does this have to do with you -- a student at the College of Charleston? Hopefully, nothing. Realistically, however, sexual assault will in some way impact and forever change the lives of some of our students -- as the actual victim or one who will serve as support to a friend, family member or a roommate. Be alert, practice personal safety precautions to make yourself less vulnerable and know where to get assistance.
Please do more than read the following information. Incorporate this information into your daily routine to reduce your chances of becoming a statistic.
- Use the buddy system when at social functions. Don't let a friend leave a party, a bar, whatever with someone they've just met.
- Ask questions now -- not later. What is the person's full name? Where does the person live? Anything that could identify the individual later if you were to become a victim of sexual assault. Sexual assault is a devastatingly horrible crime made worse when you have no information to work with if you choose to report.
- When going out on a date with someone the first few times, go out with a group of friends or meet your date at a location you know well. This gives you an opportunity to get to know your date in a more controlled environment.
- Watch for "warning" signs that your date may be exhibiting. The date who insists on making all the decisions about where you're going for dinner, what movie you're going to see or the activities planned for the date is neither listening nor interested in what you would like to be doing. A date who doesn't listen or respect your opinion is unlikely to hear the word "NO."
- Make sure your verbal and non-verbal actions are conveying the same message. Mixed messages are confusing and lead to the "but, I thought" logic. Avoid the problem of miscommunication by sending clear, uncompromising messages that can't be misinterpreted by the receiver.
- Alcohol is involved in over 75% of acquaintance/date rapes. Know your limit and don't cross it. We all know that alcohol tends to lower inhibitions, cloud objectivity, limit the powers of observation, increase aggressive tendencies and obliterates common sense. Don't risk becoming a target.
- NEVER leave your drink unattended. NEVER someone else mix your drink. NEVER accept an open container. Victims assaulted under the influence of a sedating substance have additional issues that are likely to affect their recovery -- issues oftentimes involving their inability to recall the incident.
- Victims of sexual assault are encouraged to:
Immediately get to a safe place.
Call the police. If the incident occurred off campus, contact the appropriate police jurisdiction (in most instances 911). If the incident occurred on campus, please call 843.953.5611.
Get medical assistance. Campus police and police jurisdictions will transport the victim to the nearest hospital authorized to conduct the rape protocol examination.
- A victim of sexual assault is a primary component of the evidence in a crime scene. Therefore, in order to preserve any physical evidence, we caution the victim to refrain from the following: Bathing or showering, Drinking, Using the restroom, Eating, Douching, Smoking, Changing your clothes, Disturbing the Crime Scene, Brushing your teeth.
- There is no charge for the rape protocol examination providing that the victim files an incident report with the appropriate law enforcement agency. The rape protocol examination is used to (a) collect evidence which may be used during criminal prosecution; and (b) treat possible injuries/illness sustained from the assault. Submitting to the examination gives law enforcement an opportunity to obtain any possible evidence necessary to support your case should you choose to handle this through the criminal justice process.
- Whether you elect to report or choose not to report, GET HELP. The following resources are available:
Office of Victim Services - voluntary assistance program for students affected by violent crime. It does not matter whether you choose to officially report or not. The Office of Victim Services' philosophy is to work with victims to insure that they receive needed resources, services and information. The 24-hour emergency team response pager number is 843.724.3600 (touch tone phone). For non-emergency assistance or general information, please call 843.953.2273 during normal business hours.
PAR (People Against Rape) - a local non-profit community service provider which offers support and assistance to those affected by rape
(843.745.0144 or 1.800.241.RAPE).
The College of Charleston Counseling Center - offers a variety of services and individual counseling sessions (843.953.5640).
- If you are a friend, a family member, significant other, suitemate of a victim of sexual assault, please remember to avoid taking charge -- taking control of what happens to the victim. Someone already did that when they assaulted the victim. Using words like: should, must, if I were you, -- all support YOUR agenda -- not the victim's. What YOU might do is of no consequence if you are not the victim. Listen, be supportive, let them know you're glad they survived and that you care.