Students are anticipating leaving the stress from their courses behind and to unwind during the summer break. This is a time where students may party and drink and are more susceptible to becoming a victim of a wide array of crimes. Many do not expect to become a victim of rape, but the possibility increases when under the influence of alcohol. Though a difficult trauma to overcome, UWG has a team of nurses and doctors who are S.A.N.E (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) certified and are willing to help victims get through the trauma and get their life back together.
In some cases, rape may go unreported, but at UWG, the number of reported rape cases increases each year. According to UWG’s University Police website, there was one reported rape victim in 2009, four reported rape victims in 2010 and five in 2011. All cases from the past five years have been reported as being committed in resident halls.
With summer break just around the corner, it is important that students are prepared to have fun without becoming an easy target. Preventative Health Educators offer programs and counseling for students to gain awareness, learn what they can do to help a friend or learn how to protect themselves from sexual predators.
“The most common form of rape is rape through an acquaintance,” says Liz Butts, Health & Wellness Promotion Coordinator for Health Services. “The biggest preventative is to become each other’s keepers. If someone is targeted or isolated from a group, they are more susceptible to rape, especially if alcohol or drugs are in the picture,” said Butts. Butts is passionate about helping students make good choices. Her top tips for enjoying summer break and staying safe are:
1.) “Be responsible– Stay with your group. If you meet new people, still keep an eye out on the group you came with.
2.) Watch your drinks– Always be guarded and don’t make it easy to be drugged.
3.) Know when enough is enough– It is wise to always know your personal limit and to know when to stop.”
If a student becomes a victim of rape on or off-campus, they can turn to the Health Center during the break. If a student calls in and reports a rape from on-campus, a UWG Police Officer will escort them to the Health Center where a SANE nurse will meet them, along with a Patient Advocate. If a case of rape is reported from off-campus, the student can call 9-1-1 and file a report and also report it to UWG Police. When the student returns to UWG, the same treatment is available to them. Students are allowed to have a friend with them for moral support. Once the student arrives at the Health Center, a rape kit will be conducted and they will undergo counseling.
According to Tom Mackle, Chief of UWG Police, “The rape kits are kept for two years and are stored in the UWG Police evidence room.” This gives victims time to gain their composure and decide if they want to prosecute. Follow-ups are offered to help the students ease back into their normal lifestyles. These services are free to all student rape victims and it helps reverse the emotional and psychological damage the victim may have.
If a student is victimized during the break, they should know that they can turn to UWG’s Health Services for support.