Every 73 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and awareness is important for everyone, but especially for undergraduate students, a population that is at a higher risk of sexual assault in the United States.
According to RAINN, sexual assault “refers to sexual contact or behavior without explicit consent of the victims.” Forms of sexual assault include attempted or completed rape, unwanted touching and coercion of sexual acts.
Understanding explicit consent is very important in fully defining sexual assault. Explicit consent is when both parties express an uncoerced “yes,” which means that there was no persuasion, verbal or physical, involved in convincing someone to consent. British police even compared sexual consent to drinking tea in this video.
According to RAINN, eight out of 10 sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows. 33 percent of those assaults are committed by a current or former spouse or partner. It is important to know that even if a person has had consensual sex with a perpetrator before, any non-consensual act can be considered assault or rape in the future.
One in six American women has experienced sexual assault, and one out of every 10 rape victims is male. For college students, these numbers are even higher.
Of sexual assault victims, 54 percent are between the ages of 18 and 34. College women aged 18 to 24 are three times more likely than all women to experience sexual assault, and only 20 percent of those women assaulted report it to law enforcement.
Male college students in the same age range are five times more likely to be sexually assaulted than male non-students.
Transgender, genderqueer and non-conforming college students face an even higher rate of sexual assault at 21 percent, compared to the 18 percent of non-TGQN women and 4 percent of non-TGQN men, according to RAINN.
Specifically in college communities, there is an increased risk of sexual assault for the first few months of a school year. More than 50 percent of college sexual assaults occur from August to November, according to RAINN.
Sexual assault survivors suffer from distress at a much higher rate than victims from any other violent crime. In addition, sexual assault survivors are at risk of pregnancy and STIs and are more likely to use drugs and experience negative impacts on personal relationships.
Drexel student organizations like the Drexel Student Anti-Violence Educators, the Good Idea Fund, Student Center for Diversity and Inclusion and ROTC Sexual Assault Prevention Task Force all work to spread awareness and end sexual assault and other violence on campus.
Club and national SAAM events, like Take Back the Night, have been canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak, but there are still things that can be done. #MeToo, one of the most well-known international movements combatting sexual assault against women, was started on and continues via social media. This movement brought sexual assault and harassment survivors together, forcing coverage and a real discussion about sexual assault.
Honoring the last week of SAAM, supporters can wear teal to represent sexual assault awareness, as well as conduct research, share statistics and services with friends and family and use social media as a powerful tool to bring people together during this time of social isolation.
RAINN offers a National Sexual Assault Hotline at (800) 656-HOPE to connect survivors with trained staff members who can offer confidential advice and support.