April showers assault awareness on UAA

In the spirit of sexual assault awareness month, professionals from around UAA offered follow up information from the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes article published March 29th. Detective Virginia Jaksha of the UAA Police Department (UPD) noted there was one reported sexual assault reported to UPD in 2009 and one reported sexual assault in 2010.

Jaksha also said that these are only events that happen on campus.

“Any incidents that occur off campus are handled by APD,” Jaksha said. “Statistics show that 1 in 4 women enrolled in college will be sexually assaulted on a college campus. However, many of these incidents do not get reported.”

Reducing the risk of sexual assault is a touchy subject. Although true prevention is only in the hands of the assailant, self-defense should only be used as a last resort. Avoiding risky situations by partying in pairs, being aware of your surroundings and keeping track of your drink are all easy ways to stay safe, according to Jaksha.

“Above all, I tell people to trust their gut instinct when it comes to this kind of thing. If a person or situation is giving you a creepy vibe, don’t worry about being polite, or looking silly, just get out of there as quickly as possible,” Jaksha said. “Far too many students have the ‘it will never happen to me’ mentality.”

 

Director of the Student Health and Counseling Center (SHCC), Georgia Dekeyser offered additional information on behalf of SHCC:

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The Northern Light: How many incidents of sexual assault are there reported to SHCC per semester?

Georgia Dekeyser: We reviewed our electronic medical records by diagnosis. This search revealed that one to two times per semester a student may seek SHCC for immediate services related to an assault.  Having said this, it is not uncommon for students bring up their history of sexual assault, or domestic violence issues, in mental health counseling sessions.

TNL: How can people prevent being sexually assaulted, other than self-defense?

GD: Knowing your individual rights; right to your body, right to change your mind, and right to be listened to and respected.

Setting Limits; knowing your limits for alcohol and drug use, knowing limits for sexual involvement, and knowing who you are comfortable “hanging out “ with.

Being alert and in control; knowing who you are with and where you are going, knowing that drugs and alcohol make you less alert and aware, and always carrying money or going out with friends to make it easier to get out of a bad situation.

Communicating Assertively; being clear about what you want, letting others know when they are violating your boundaries, saying now when you mean no, saying yes when you mean yes.

Trust your gut; if you are feeling that something isn’t right, get out of the situation, don’t be afraid to be rude or make a scene, you’re worth protecting

*adapted from Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault

TNL: What should the student body know about sexual assault?

GD: The victim is never at fault. Doing everything “right” does not guarantee that you won’t be assaulted, not doing things right does not mean that you will be assaulted. If you were engaging in risky behavior, remember poor judgment is not a rape-able offense.

*adapted from Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault