Sexual Assault on College Campuses

One in Five

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According to a 2015 Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation Poll, the most up-to-date and comprehensive study of its kind, 25% of young women and 7% of young men have been victims of sexual assault while attending college in our country. Rape, sexual violence, and unwanted sexual incidents are becoming a burgeoning epidemic in the ever-growing hook-up culture of today’s youth. Two-thirds of these victims claim to have consumed alcohol prior to the assault, and it seems as though the lines of consent may be becoming increasingly blurred for the college-aged youth of our nation. The rising trend of casual sex, coupled with the presence of fraternities and sororities on college campuses, makes sexual assault more of an institutionalized staple than ever before. According to data released by the Office of Civil Rights, the number of Title IX complaints has gone up 1000% in the last five years.

What Is Title IX?

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Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act of 1972 is the federal law prohibiting discrimination based on sex in institutions of higher education. The law states that “no person in the United States shall on the basis of sex be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”  This “discrimination” includes sexual harassment, rape, sexual assault, sexual battery and the college’s mishandlings of such issues.

A Title IX Complaint is an official document detailing how your college or college official has failed to comply with the parameters of Title IX. The more students speak up about the instances of assault they have faced on campus, the more awareness and action will be brought to the subject. For more information on Title IX and how to file a complaint, visit

It’s Not Just a Girl Thing

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Although less common, sexual assault against males is a very real problem. Seven percent of men are victims of these campus assaults, while there are likely many more who are too ashamed or reluctant to speak up about their experience for fear of appearing weak or damaged. Men suffer from sexual violence in the same ways women do. They experience the same grief, shame, self-doubt, fear, and anger that any other person would after becoming a victim of an act of sexual violence.

When seeking out help, however, these men are directed toward a system that isn’t designed to help them, but more to help their female counterparts. As a society, we often forget that men can be victims of rape and violence. It is important for us to listen to those that speak out, and to encourage others to do the same so that we can change our collective perception of what a sexual assault victim looks like and provide support to any and all victims who need it.

It Happens in Relationships

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Sexual abuse doesn’t just happen at frat parties, between strangers, or acquaintances. Sexual assault can occur in all stages of dating and romantic relationships, even between exes. A lot of people believe that, because they are in a relationship, they are automatically entitled to a certain degree of physical and emotional affection from their partner. When they do not receive it, they feel that they are allowed to take it, often to the detriment of their partner. And although affection may be coupled with it, many of these types of relationships are also riddled with abuse. Abusers will use methods of pressure, power, and guilt to control their partners. Feelings of love, lust and compassion can cloud a person’s judgment and lead them to be forgiving or silent when it comes to their abusers. No always means no, no matter what the nature of the relationship and violence between partners is never okay.

Relationship violence accounts for 15% of all violent crimes in the U.S. Research shows that 25-33% of all straight and LGBT relationships are abusive. If you are in a relationship that you think might be abusive, educate yourself on how to leave the situation in a safe way.

Fighting Back

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The recent succession of widely broadcasted reports of sexual violence on college campuses has brought the issue to the attention of the White House, prompting the formation of a White House task force. Their purpose: to protect students from sexual assault. Many colleges are fighting back against sexual abuse by upgrading their online resources for abuse education and prevention, offering workshops and discussions, and putting fraternities and sororities on alert of the growing problem. Colleges are also changing the way they handle reports of assault and continue to increase the level of ​on campus security.

It seems the technological world is up to speed on this important issue as well. Smartphone applications like the Companion App, are popping up left and right. The app lets your “companion” virtually walk you home via GPS and gives the user the option to express that they are nervous, to call their companion or for either party to immediately call the police.

You Are Not Alone, Speak Out

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Despite the rampant onslaught of sexual assaults, less than 5% of these instances are being reported, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. No victim of sexual violence should be ashamed of the crime committed against them. If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, rape, or any unwanted sexual instances, let someone know. There are resources out there for you, and you are not alone:

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