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The 411: Interpersonal Violence on College Campuses

Posted Nov 16 2011 - 12:00am

Assault crimes against female students in college are alarmingly common. The truth is, we are all affected either directly or indirectly by interpersonal violence. Here’s what you need to know to be aware of the problem.

Interpersonal violence is defined by the World Health Organization as any behavior within an intimate relationship that causes physical, psychological or sexual harm to those in the relationship. Although strangers are likely to commit this crime, interpersonal violence is perpetrated most commonly by a partner, ex-partner or acquaintance. Fortunately at UNC, we have several programs implemented like One Act and HAVEN that focus on preventing interpersonal violence and bystander education to make our campus safer. I encourage you to participate in a One Act training session to pledge to begin with one act to end interpersonal violence which includes stalking, abusive relationships and sexual assault. Check out the links at the end of this article to become familiar with the resources on campus.

Every 21 hours another rape occurs on an American college campus. One in four women in college today has been the victim of rape, and nearly 90 percent of them knew their rapist. Of the college women who are raped, only 10 percent report the rape. In addition to the threat of campus rape and its aftermath, college women are also more likely to be stalked.

There’s no denying that this is an ongoing problem that needs attention on all college campuses. Stay safe with the following tips from RAINN (The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network)

  1. Know our campus. Whether you’re walking home from the library or a party, find out the safest way back home: a well-lit route where there are people around and/or emergency call boxes.
  1. Trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe, or even just uncomfortable, go with your gut — leave the frat party, tell the dude you were flirting with that you don’t want to go home with him, whatever. Don’t worry about what others think or whether you’ll hurt someone’s feelings.
  1. Use your cell phone. Make sure it’s fully charged before you go out. If you find yourself in a sketchy situation, send a text to a friend asking her to pick you up. Also, before to heading out to parties, make a plan to meet up with your friends at a specific time and location at the end of the night, just in case your phone dies.
  1. Be mysterious online. Think twice before leaving status messages and when using the check-in feature on Facebook or Foursquare. Posting your whereabouts exposes details that are accessible to everyone, and allows people to track where you are.
  2. Don’t completely let your guard down. Remember that they are essentially strangers — that the seemingly-sweet guy in your Econ class who lives down the hall might not be as nice as he appears. The majority of sexual assaults are committed by someone who the victim knows.
  1. It’s okay to tell a lie. If you find yourself in a potentially risky situation and aren’t sure how to get out of it, make up an excuse to leave.
  1. If you see something, say something! Don’t be afraid to intervene if you witness an encounter that looks like someone’s safety could be at risk. Let’s say a guy is chatting up a super drunk girl and you get a bad feeling. Step in and tell him you’re going to take her back to her dorm or apartment, or call one of her friends to come help her out. By taking action you can prevent a horrible crime from being committed.
  1. Stay with your friends. Arrive together, check in with one another throughout the night, and leave together. If, for whatever reason, you do separate, let them know where you are going and who you are with.
  1. Watch your drinks. Don’t accept a cocktail from anyone you don’t know and never leave your drink unattended. If you have left it alone, get a new one. Avoid common open containers like punch bowls or the oh-so classy trash cans at frat houses.
  1. Always have your friend’s back. If one of your girls seems out of it, is way too intoxicated for the amount of alcohol she’s had, or is acting out of character, get her to a safe place. If you suspect that you or a friend has been drugged, call 911.

Sources:
http://chs.gala.ovcsa.unc.edu/ipv - Counseling and Wellness Services
http://www.facebook.com/OneAct - One Act
http://chs.gala.ovcsa.unc.edu/oneact
http://www.projectdinah.webs.com/ - Project Dinah
http://www.ocrcc.org - Orange County Rape Crisis Center

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