Partying on the defense

Sara Macho

Female students share the ways they protect themselves against sexual assault

Women are subjected to many unwanted advances during parties, and many include the use of “date-rape” drugs used to make a victim delirious and incapacitated.

Credit: Andrew popik

When Rebecca Schwarz is walking alone, she said, she is totally unaware of her environment and its potential danger.

Growing up in the country, the junior sociology major can be “completely oblivious” to her surroundings.

But sexual assault is a huge problem on college campuses, according to Laura Bruneau, a counselor at of the Counseling and Human Development Center.

Students can find help through the Healing Together support group.

It’s one thing to start a rape support group, but it’s another issue to get victims to come forward and admit they were raped, said Michelle Lee, administrative lieutenant at the Kent Police Department.

Heather Schroeder, sophomore paralegal studies major, said she would be embarrassed to attend a rape support group.

“I wouldn’t want other people to know,” she said. “I would only go if someone came with me.”

Lee said many times sexual assault victims are unsure if rape actually occurred.

“It may be a case where excessive alcohol use was involved, the victim has a fear of losing their partner or they are fearful they will become victimized by the media,” Lee said.

According to the Kent Police Department 2003 Crime Statistics Report, there were 14 reported cases of rape and 19 calls declaring an incident of rape or sexual assault in Kent.

Victims may be afraid they will not be believed, said Robin Larson, victim outreach specialist at Townhall II, a crisis intervention center in downtown Kent.

“It’s hard enough to be raped, much less having to then tell the account of what happened,” Larson said.

Larson said victims are raped by an acquaintance 50 to 80 percent of the time.

“Though anyone is susceptible to rape, there are many safety precautions females can take to lessen the chance of a sexual assault,” said Jennifer Brown, rape crisis program director at the YWCA of Summit County.

Females should always use the buddy system and never go out alone. Also, women should never leave a party alone and keep an eye on their beverages at all times, Brown said.

Female students use many precautions when going out for a night on the town.

Lizabeth Lukesic, sophomore marketing major, said she is always on the defense.

“You have to be aware of secret motives,” Lukesic said.

Jen Hallos, sophomore accounting major, said she uses the buddy system.

“It’s just always good to have your friends around,” Hallos said.

Female students also keep an eye on their beverages.

“I never leave my drink with anyone,” Schroeder said.

Kristie Reznak, sophomore finance major, said she makes sure she doesn’t drink too much.

According to a Townhall II pamphlet on drug-facilitated sexual assault, drugs such as rohypnol, GHB, ketamine and ecstasy can be used as a weapon in sexual assault crimes.

Rape drugs are colorless, odorless and often tasteless, Larson said.

Larson said rohypnol has never been approved for any medical use in the United States, making it illegal. Rohypnol is smuggled into this country in foil-backed, clear, plastic “bubble packs,” according to a Townhall II pamphlet.

The pamphlet also said rohypnol, GHB and ketamine all cause dizziness, confusion and reduced levels of consciousness.

Larson said to protect against these drugs, do not share or exchange drinks with anyone, never leave a beverage unattended, personally open all drinks and bring your own drinks, if possible.

Contact features reporter Sara Macho at [email protected].