While many people hear about sexual assault-related incidents such as rape on a daily basis via newscasts, internet and radio broadcasts, an alarming amount of individuals are unaware of how to avoid being a possible target of rape. The disturbing fact is many of these events go unreported and the attacker remains free.
A difficult issue regarding rape prevention is avoiding people who are potential attackers. “If it’s someone you don’t know very well and you’ve just met, it’s very good to be cautious,” said Ashley Threatt, health educator and assessment officer at USM.
“People who do that can be very charismatic. They can be very attractive. People who are going to do that look like anyone on the street. I think it’s really important to take care of yourself and be conscientious of the risks that do exist,” Threatt added.
Also, knowing what signs to look for can become challenging when the potential attacker is not a stranger. “According to statistics, acquaintance rape is more common than stranger rape,” said Lisa Carter, special operations captain at the University Police Department. However, when a crime like this occurs, it does not matter what category the incident falls under. “Rape is rape,” Carter said.
Everyone should be more cautious when in public. According to Pimall.com, the top four places for a rape to occur are grocery store parking lots, office parking lots, parking garages and public rest rooms. Attackers have preferences when it comes to the victim’s appearance.
Rapists often look for people with long hair in a ponytail or bun. Attackers may also seek people wearing items of clothing that can be easily and quickly removed. They sometimes carry a pair of scissors in order to cut their victim’s clothing.
While this crime cannot always be avoided, several preventative measures can be done taken. Stay with a group of friends instead of travelling alone, not accepting consumable things such as food or drinks from strangers and carrying pepper spray or a similar object in case it is needed for self-defense.
The most traumatic effects of a crime such as this are not only the physical injuries victims are left with, but also the mental trauma he or she suffers after the event. Many of these incidents do not get reported to the law because the victim feels that he or she is the one at fault or they do not wish to remember the experience. However, it is very important that these crimes are reported to the police as soon as possible.
Victims who wish to contact campus police to report sexual assault can call 601.266.4696. Also, victims in need of medical care on campus may call 601.266.2390. Victims who wish to contact the Shafer Center for Crisis Intervention can call 601.264.7777.
Editor’s Note 10/28/13: An earlier version of this story implied that women could be the only victims of rape. We apologize and the statements have since been corrected.