by SARA MARSHALL/Editor-in-Chief
Just two simple words, but they contain so many meanings. There are two parts to every sexual assault, the victim and the rapist.
Sexual assault, commonly known as rape, is a serious criminal offense. It occurs when someone intentionally and knowingly commits any number of sexual activities prohibited under sexual assault laws without the victim’s consent.
“There are basically three things that constitute sexual assault,” said Nicholas Castillo, chief of police at South Plains College, “and that’s causing the penetration of the sexual organ of another without their consent, causing the penetration of another’s mouth with a sexual organ without their consent, or causing someone else to penetrate somebody’s orifice without their consent.”
Statistically, one in five women will be raped at some point in their lives, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, while one in 71 men will be raped. This adds up to 91 percent of all rape victims being women, and only 9 percent of reported rape victims being men.
“Women of college age are the most susceptible to sexual assault,” Chief Castillo warns. “But it can happen to anyone. It happens to men. It happens to boys. It happens to people of all ages.”
According to Chief Castillo, college-age women are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted than women who are not in a college setting. Although, 66 percent of these sexual assaults occur away from campus.
“We want people to be aware of all their surroundings,” Chief Castillo says. “Nine out of 10 victims knew their attacker in all sexual assault cases. So it’s very rare that someone actually just grabs a stranger on the streets and sexually assaults them. It’s the majority of the time someone that person knows, whether they’re on a date or just getting to know them. So even when you’re on a date, know your sexual limits.”
Some tips Chief Castillo suggests to avoid finding yourself in this type of situation is to always meet in public places, let your friends know where you are going, and to have a friend on standby just in case the date goes south. Other tips include to get a new drink if you leave it for a moment, and to always trust your instincts.
“You never know what someone’s intentions are,” Chief Castillo says. “Even if you’ve gone out on a few dates, really get to know somebody before you start having those alone moments with them, or you start giving them so much power over your situation.”
If a sexual assault occurs, Chief Castillo advises victims to at least tell someone, whether it is a close friend or family member, even if the victim is too scared or uncomfortable to report the assault to authorities.
“It seems to be a very difficult thing for victims to report an assault for a number of reasons,” Chief Castillo says. “A lot of times, they believe no one will believe them. They think that it’s a personal issue, and they don’t need to get others involved. Or they don’t want to deal with the stigma of being a victim.”
Many people believe all victims should be distraught, angry and upset constantly. But this is not always the case.
“There is no template for the behavior of a survivor,” Chief Castillo said. “Any behavior performed by a survivor that got them through the situation is the correct approach. The human brain does a lot of things to protect itself. Some people do fight back. Some don’t.”
Avoiding sexual assault is not always a possibility, but being safe and following your intuition will improve your chances of not becoming a statistic.
“Two individuals that are going to engage in sexual activity, make sure everyone consents,” Chief Castillo said. “Often times, the case is there was a gray area in their mind. So ask the other person what they are comfortable with and talk to them; communicate.”