Keep danger at bay
Kirkwood, RVAP urge focus on personal safety
Published: Thursday, April 12, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 12, 2012 10:04
Be aware of your surroundings. Know who is around you and what is going on. If you are at a party or group function, don’t leave with a person you do not know well.
Those are among the safety tips being offered around campuses this month, which has been designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The Rape Victim Advocacy Program (RVAP) of Iowa City and Kirkwood Community College are each holding events to promote the month.
“One in four woman and one in 20 men experience sexual assault in their lives,” said RVAP’s Education Coordinator Susan Junis, who has been with RVAP for almost a year.
RVAP, located at 332 S. Linn St., Suite 10, Iowa City, provides free and confidential services, including classes, student groups, a 24-hour crisis line, counseling and victim advocacy. Its aim is to help victims, their friends and family members.
Kirkwood Community College is also promoting Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Kim Pritts, lead nurse at Campus Health, said Kirkwood is encouraging awareness and safety by offering free whistles, drink safe cards and sexual awareness information. Campus Health is located in 132 Iowa Hall.
Though steps can be taken to lower risk, prevention is not always possible. “The only person who can prevent sexual assault is the rapist or perpetrator,” Junis said. “One way you can do that is to always ask for consent before any sort of sexual activity; that even includes touching or kissing.”
If a person has been assaulted it is their choice to step forward, Junis said. They have a couple of options. Victims in the Iowa City area can call RVAP’s crisis line at 319-335-6000. If they’re out of the area, they can call the Iowa Sexual Abuse Hotline at 1-800-284-7821. Both are answered at RVAP.
Victims also can go to any emergency room in Iowa and are able to receive a free exam that includes a general checkup, evidence collection and preventative medication, Junis explained.
“During an assault that person’s choice was taken away from them, so we make sure that they have all of the choices possible to them and they know that their choices are respected,” Junis said about the RVAP program.
RVAP is holding an event at Kirkwood’s Iowa City campus April 18 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will be an information table and a Jeopardy game, where participants will have a chance to answer questions and win prizes.
For more information on RVAP’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month events visit its website at www.rvap.org or call 319-335-6000. RVAP’s offices are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information about Kirkwood’s efforts to raise awareness, contact Pritts at 319-398-5588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to people being wary of their surroundings, the National Crime Prevention Council suggests following these tips to lower the risk of becoming a victim of sexual assault:
• Trust your instincts: If you feel uncomfortable in your surroundings, leave. If you feel that you are in danger, don’t be afraid to make a scene. If you feel that something is out of the ordinary at your residence, move to a safe place and call the police.
• Watch your keys and other personal possessions: Don’t lend keys, leave keys or lose keys. Do not put your name and address on the key ring. Also, pay close attention to your drink at all times.
• Be wary of isolated spots: Underground garages and apartment laundry rooms are places where people need to be especially careful. Walking or jogging alone can also raise the risk of becoming a victim. Vary your route and stay in well-traveled, well-lit areas.