Homecoming could possibly be the most anticipated event of the school year at FAMU but it is also a time when many young women become victims of sexual assault.
Natasha Clayton, coordinator of FAMU’s on-campus counseling center, Sunshine Manor, said Homecoming is the time of year when on-campus sexual assaults are at their height.
According to Clayton, some of the activities that women participate in may put them at a greater risk of being assaulted.
“It’s not uncommon for girls to say ‘I was at this party. It was 2 a.m. and I was drinking,'” Clayton said.
Clayton said that watching what you drink is extremely important because the involvement of alcohol and drugs causes some women to be unwilling to report the crime that was committed against them.
“Women think that they will be seen as indecent for being in a situation like that but, they are young and they want to have fun. People tie the inability to have made a healthy decision with the myths that society has about rape,” Clayton said.
Clayton also advised young women to be aware of the random people that they may meet around campus because they have the potential of being attackers.
“About 85 percent of rape victims know the person that raped them. They meet the person on The Set, at the club, in any type of scenario where you can meet someone,” Clayton said.
For young women who plan to immerse themselves in the Homecoming experience, there are certain steps that they should take to avoid becoming a victim of sexual assault.
The Rape, Abuse and National Network website, www.rainn.org, said women can start by traveling in groups.
According to the website, when going to a party, women should go with a group of friends. They should arrive together, watch out for each other, and leave together. They also shouldn’t leave their drink unattended and should communicate their limits firmly and directly.
If a woman is sexually assaulted and is reluctant to go to the police or the counseling center, there are other confidential options available.
“People can dial 211 from any local phone to talk to a counselor 24 hours a day,” said Allison a counselor for the Rape Crisis Hotline. Counselors are restricted from giving their real names to protect the company’s policy of confidentiality between the caller and the counselor.
“We offer callers long-term counseling and referrals to other counseling centers in their area,” she said.
Clayton suggested that even after Homecoming, women should not let their guards down and are advised to reports assaults.
“Reporting rape is a step in stopping it from happening. If the person has a history of assault, the police will see that and pick him up off the street. That could prevent someone else from being raped down the line,” Clayton said.
Refuge House: 681-2111/ 1-800-500-1119
Rape Crisis Hotline: 211/ 224-6333
Sunshine Manor Counseling Center: 599-3145
Tallahassee Police Department’s Victim Advocate: 891-4200
Florida A&M University Police Department: 599-3256
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network: www.rainn.org
Alexia Robinson, 20, a magazine production student from Jacksonville, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 915-5863