The benefits certainly are abundant, but did you know that sorority membership is considered a risk factor for sexual assault? Knowledge is power, and as we focus on Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it is crucial that we open our eyes to the risks associated with sexual assault.
The following are factors that increase sexual assault risk:
• Sex. Females are more likely to be victims of rape or sexual assault than males.
• Age and year of study. Most victims of rape or sexual assault are females younger than 24 years of age. The first two years of college are the highest risk years, and the first few months of the school year are the highest risk time of the year.
• Sorority membership. In a study, sorority women reported having been sexually assaulted while in college at a rate four times that of nonsorority members.
• Numerous sexual partners. Women who reported having more sexual partners since entering college were more likely to have reported forced sexual assault.
• Alcohol use. Approximately half of sexual assaults involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, victim or both.
• Day of the week. More than half of the sexual assaults took place on weekends. More than half occurred between midnight and 6 a.m.
• Off-campus parties. More than half of sexual assaults against college women took place in off-campus settings. More than half of the women who reported incapacitated sexual assault said they were at a party when the incident took place.
Now that we know the risk, how can we better care for one another and help to prevent sexual assault from happening in our communities? The first thing to remember is that as Alpha Gamma Delta women, we commit to providing experiences for our members that prioritize their health and dignity. The better we plan our events to address these risks, including preparing thorough Event Planning Guides (EPGs), the more likely we are to eliminate at least some risk factors.
Unfortunately, even when we plan our events perfectly and live our individual lives in a way that is considered "safe", sexual assault can still occur. So how do we respond?
Remember: no one asks to be assaulted and no one ever deserves it. So our first step should be to be there for our sister in her time of need. Our sisters, Kelly Addington and Becca Tieder, founded an organization called One Student and have created resources for you on how to support a friend, what to do if you are sexually assaulted, protecting yourself from drug-facilitated assaults, spring break tips and much, much more.
Alpha Gamma Delta will be continuing this conversation about sexual assault awareness throughout the next month and we hope you'll join us in the dialogue! To keep the conversation going, follow these three easy steps:
Step 1) Get educated! Visit the links provided in the risk factor information above to learn more. Also, check out One Student's "Get the Facts" resource.
Step 2) Get social! Keep your eye on Facebook and Twitter as we will be posting more facts and resources throughout the month. Also, consider changing your profile banner to raise awareness for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Check out these pre-designed resources for USA (April) and Canada (May).
Step 3) Get active! First, sign the One Student petition to be part of the solution. Then get the dialogue going in your community. Start a social media or marketing campaign for awareness; talk with your campus or community leaders about the systemic factors; host an event like bringing Kelly and Becca to campus, starting a No Woman Left Behind chapter on your campus or sending a message against sexual assault misconceptions through Denim Day on April 23 or wearing purple on No One Asks For It Day on May 2. Additionally, the SAAM Day of Action page has a lot of additional ideas for how you can get involved.
If you have any questions or need to speak with someone about issues involving sexual assault, we encourage you to contact your campus counseling services or the confidential 24 hour Sexual Assault Hotline (USA) at 1-800-656-HOPE(4673) or the 24 hour Crisis Line (Canada) at 613-562-2333.