Aug. 25, 2008
RVAP joins colleges across nation in educating students about 'The Red Zone'
The Rape Victim Advocacy Program (RVAP) will join other college campuses across the nation in educating new students about "The Red Zone," the time between the start of the school year and Thanksgiving break when women are at the highest risk for sexual assaults.
Several factors across college campuses make this time of the year one of higher risk, including students being in a new environment, and the availability of alcohol, according to RVAP Executive Director Karla Miller.
"`The Red Zone' is an important awareness campaign, especially for freshmen women as they are the most vulnerable population on campus," Miller said. "While only perpetrators can prevent rapes from happening, there are many options that students can choose to reduce their individual risk of sexual victimization, including the R.A.D. (Rape Aggression Defense Course) Personal Safety Training provided by the University of Iowa Department of Public Safety."
"An estimated 5 percent of college women experience a completed or attempted rape in a given year," Alondra Canizal, RVAP prevention education coordinator, said. "In a college that has 10,000 female students, there would be more than 350 rapes a year, according to a survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice." The same survey found that about 90 percent of rape and sexual assault victims knew their attacker prior to the assault.
"Most assaults go officially unreported, and because victims often do not report most sexual assaults, it is difficult to measure the magnitude of this crime," Miller said. "Many women are ashamed or afraid of the reaction they might get from loved ones, law enforcement, friends or colleagues. People still blame the victim, or simply refuse to believe them."
RVAP, University Housing, University of Iowa Student Government (UISG) and the Office of Student Life are working together to help get the word out about "The Red Zone" with a grant from Coca-Cola. All students living in the dorms will receive an information card about "The Red Zone" that includes important phone numbers. RVAP staff members will also be available at information tables outside of the residential dining halls during the first week of school where students can pick up their free safety whistle.
The Iowa City Downtown Bar Association will also be distributing informational flyers and safety whistles to local bars for their customers. In collaboration with UISG, RVAP will also be distributing napkins to downtown bars including information about the Red Zone and bar safety tips.
RVAP also provides education and training to UI resident assistants, all incoming athletes, parents of freshmen students, fraternities and sororities, classes and other student groups.
Miller said the following techniques can help reduce the risk of being sexually assaulted. These tips, however, do not guarantee the prevention of a sexual assault.
"Only a perpetrator can prevent a sexual assault from happening," Miller said. "Sometimes, even if these techniques are followed, women and men are sexually assaulted. Still, it is not the victim's fault, regardless of what they are saying, doing, eating, drinking, or when they are walking, dancing, or asleep."
Canizal suggests the following:
--Watch your drink. Date rape drugs are often odorless, colorless and tasteless and can easily be added to unattended drinks.
Information on a 12-hour Rape Aggression Defense Course offered through the UI Department of Public Safety will be available at http://www.uiowa.edu/~pubsfty/rad.htm. Contact Brad Allison at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about this program. Specific dates are not yet set.
Canizal also offers the following prevention tips that can help reduce the number of sexual assaults on campus:
--Respect your date and communicate.
Miller said anyone who has difficulty respecting women, is often jealous, feels hatred, is angry or violent, or thinks females are responsible for their unhappiness, needs to get help.
RVAP services include a 24-hour Rape Crisis Line, 319-335-6000; certified sexual assault counselors; and in-person, medical, legal and institutional advocacy. RVAP services are free and confidential.
Support, advocacy and counseling are available to victim/survivors of sexual assault and their partners, friends and family members. Trained and certified sexual assault advocates provide information, phone counseling, in-person medical, legal, and institutional advocacy, individual and group counseling, resources and referrals.
Miller encourages those who have been sexually assaulted or who know someone who has been sexually assaulted to call the Rape Crisis Line to speak with a trained counselor.
RVAP is located at 320 S. Linn St. in Iowa City. For more information, visit http://www.rvap.org. The site provides information about statistics, education, victim services and resources. The 24-hour Rape Crisis Line number is 335-6000. The Rape Victim Advocacy Program is also the home of the 24-hour Iowa Sexual Abuse Hotline, an outreach program that provides sexual assault crisis services across Iowa, at 1-800-284-7821.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 301, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500