214 schools have reported incidents of sexual violence on their campuses over the past year.
These occurrences are no strangers to Fullerton College Campus, with two separate incidents occurring in 2015.
According to the Wall Street Journal, these crimes have more than doubled between 2001 to 2013, with 5,000 cases.
What is Sexual Assault?
There are various forms of assault ranging from rape, sexual battery, sexual sodomy and sexual assault.
Rape is defined as “to have sexual intercourse by force without the approval of the victim, while sexual battery is using inappropriate touching of private parts of a person’s body such as the breasts and groin and sodomy means to use anal sexual intercourse.”
The definition provided by The Clery Annual Security Report says that sexual assault is to be defined as, “The use of an object or instrument to unlawfully penetrate, however slight, forcibly or against their will or where the victim of giving consent.”
This definition varies state to state.
Consent means “to give an affirmative agreement with the person in question.”
Who are the victims?
These victims in question are mostly female, with one in six being assaulted before they reach the age of 18 compared to one in 16 men, according to RAINN.com.
College-age women are targeted three times more than regular women, and among these victims, nine out of 10 knew the person who is sexually assaulting them.
With perpetrators being people the victims already know, this raises the question on why are they doing this?
Tracy Guild, professor of psychology at Fullerton College says a cause can be misinterpretation from the perpetrator.
“People regularly make errors when judging others’ behaviors and intentions. We tend to think behavior stem from internal causes and discount external, situational causes for behavior.”
Because of the confusion surrounding many assaults, many victims are unsure of what to do, as only 20 percent report to law enforcement or campus safety says RAINN.
These incidents go unreported for numerous reasons, such as: the victims fearing they will not be taken seriously, believe it was a personal matter, think it is not important enough to report, didn’t want to get the perpetrator in trouble, worry that their family and friends will be in danger, and the last reason being the mistrust for law enforcement.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 40 percent of colleges and universities reported on not investigating assault cases in the previous five years.
The cause of this can be represented by the 30 percent of these campuses offering no training on sexual assault to students or law enforcement officers.
This even catches the attention of the president, when he released a statement in 2014 to encourage more noticeable attention to these incidents so that victims can be comfortable enough to get help and learn prevention.
How to Stay Safe
Ways to prevent sexual assault from happening are to be aware of your surroundings, stay away from underpopulated areas, communicate with others so they can know where you are located and do not take in excessive amount of drugs or alcohol if you are by yourself.
If you are approached, the best way to handle the situation is to run to a populated area, call for help or if you are physically touched, to fight back.
Fullerton College’s director of campus safety Steven Selby advises students to put away electronic devices to be more aware of your surroundings and to know where the local emergency phones are.
“Everybody, especially females, have to put away your phones and be aware of what is around you,” Selby states, “Lock your doors, know where the emergency phones are and get safety devices.”
Safety devices like pepper spray and alarm setters that can be purchased buy at a local superstore or even the campus bookstore.
The response to sexual assaults cases has been growing over the years with campus law enforcement addressing and responding to incidents more frequently and with greater concern.
There are also outreach of programs offered specifically to help college students like the Not Alone program, promoted by Barack Obama himself, and the It’s On Us campaign which helps to educate others on sexual assault.
Counseling is also offered on campuses as well, including Fullerton College, to help victims deal with their experiences.
Assaults can lead to traumatic aftermaths of depression, flashbacks and post traumatic stress.
“If you see something, say something.” Selby concludes. “Call campus safety so we can help. Every second counts when it comes to your life.”
The Fullerton College Campus Safety office can be reached at (714) 992-7777.