Victims of sexual assault encouraged to seek help

Every two minutes someone in the United States is sexually assaulted, according to the Sonoma State Police Services website.. Although it isn’t always possible to prevent a sexual assault, there are many things that can be done to receive help right on our campus.

“I was at a party and talking to someone I had just met,” said Susie, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy. “The guy threw himself on top of me out of no where and I struggled to escape. Luckily, my friend was looking for me and happened to walk in. I got out the house as soon as I could.”

Because of the nature of the incident, Susie did not go to the authorities or report what happened to her.

“I felt embarrassed about what had happened and felt I needed to keep it to myself,” said Susie.

According to the police department, getting help after such an encounter is vital. 

Reporting a sexual assault case protects the rights of the victim. It makes sure the evidence is collected in case the victim wants to go to court and testify against the prosecutor. 

Sophomore Natalie Leighton has experienced a situation in which her friend was involved in a sexual assault.

“It’s appalling how often situations like this occur, and it needs to be clear to men who do take advantage of this situation, that no means no and there’s no way to justify what they did,” said Leighton.

The Sonoma State Police Services website advices students who have had a friend go through such a traumatic experience to be patient and non-judgmental. Also, they advise the friend to encourage the victim to seek help.

Sexual assault is not strictly being raped; there is emotional and verbal harassment as well. 

“I think the thing people don’t understand about sexual assault is that not saying no is not the same as saying yes,” said Julie, whose name has also been changed to protect her privacy. “I blamed myself for a long time because I never actively asked him to stop. By telling me I was a tease if I didn’t give in, among other things, he made me feel like I had no choice in the matter.”

Another on-campus source for these types of instances is Sonoma State’s Counseling and 

Psychological Services. Here they provide confidential counseling for all students struggling with any type of personal matter.

Being aware of surroundings is one of the most important things a college student can do according to the police services home page. Parties can add to the risk of sexual assaults, particularly when students are not paying attention while drinking. 

“When I was a junior in high school I had a pretty scary experience at a party,” said Samantha, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy. “In the middle of the party, I didn’t feel well so I just picked the first room I saw and went for it. I don’t actually remember falling asleep, but when I woke up I was on the floor of that room. The first and scariest thing that I noticed was that my skirt was lifted up and my underwear was halfway down my legs and a guy was passed out next to me. Nobody should have to go through something like that, yet it happens regularly to so many girls.”

For students who have encountered any kind of sexual assault and want to speak up about it, refer to the Sonoma State Police Services home page or the Counseling and Psychological Services home page. 

You may also report crimes to the SSU police at anytime at 707-664-4444.