By Dalton Karwacki
More than 209,880 sexual assaults were reported in this country in 2004, students were told during a presentation, “Sexual Assault and Drugs: Don’t Let It Happen to You,” on Tuesday evening.
Presenting were Elizabeth Sandy, the assistant director of Student Financial Services, and Alison Aks, the coordinator of sexual assault support services for Womanspace Inc.
“One out of every six women is the victim of an attempted rape or a completed rape in their lifetimes,” Sandy said, citing the Prevalent Incidents and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey.
She said 72 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to the police “because of shame, fear, and guilt, and further harassment from the offenders.”
Twenty to 25 percent of college women have experienced sexual assault during their college years, she said.
The presentation then turned to the legal definitions of sexual assault.
“Under New Jersey law, sexual assault is any form of unwanted touching or penetration of intimate body parts by the same or opposite sex,” Sandy said. “‘Unwanted’ or ‘involuntary’ means sexual contact without the consent of the victim, including the use of threats, intimidation, coercion or physical force.”
Sandy also explained that terms such as “date rape” do not “imply a lesser form of sexual assault.” Consent was also defined as being “based on choice.” It is also “active and not passive. It is given freely and not given because of fear. It must be verbal.”
Complications can arise when the victim and offender are a couple, she said.
“If the offender is involved in a dating relationship with the victim, and she refuses, he feels that maybe he has the right and is justified in using force, especially if she refuses,” she said.
When a relationship exists, the victim often experiences self-conflict, “because there are affiliative and self-protective feelings involved,” she said.
Aks took over the presentation in order to explain some of the drugs most commonly utilized to facilitate sexual assaults. The five drugs Aks focused on were alcohol, GHB (commonly called “liquid x”), rohypnol (commonly called “roofies”), ketamine (often called “special k” or “vitamin k”) and MDMA (known as “ecstasy” or “x”). Aks also discussed the side effects of each of these drugs in addition to their common street names.
Sandy explained ways to prevent sexual assault and what to do in the event of an assault.
“First of all, do not leave your drink unattended,” she said. “Do not accept drinks from anyone you don’t know well. Do not drink from open punch bowls, because they may be spiked.”
She also recommended watching the drink being made and ordering bottles if possible.
In the event of a sexual assault, Sandy said “You need to get to a safe place immediately. You need to get help, call the police [or] a trusted friend. Get medical attention because you could be vulnerable to STDs or other infections. You also need a pregnancy test and may want to request a toxicology test.”
Sandy also advised victims to preserve the evidence by not bathing or changing clothing “until the evidence is gathered, because this will be used in the criminal investigation.”