Staying safe on campus

GW may be considered one of the safest places in the District, but sexual crimes can happen at any time, especially since college-aged women are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted.

Fifteen forcible rapes have occurred on campus since 2005, according to University Police Department records. There were 20 sexual assault cases reported in off-campus locations, including six reports of fondling. Studies have shown, however, that fewer than 10 percent of sexual assaults ever get reported.

The University has several systems in place to assist sexual assault survivors during their recovery processes. The various systems help in everything from initial reporting to legal matters to seeking therapy.

Sexual Assault Crisis Consultation is one resource available for victims. Composed of professional GW staff who are always available, SACC can help assess a survivor’s conditions, help them make informed decisions regarding the incident, and help direct them to the proper medical and legal resources.

Victims often want to seek help from mental health professionals, so SACC refers them to the University Counseling Center.

“We provide psychological counseling (to help) recover from that trauma,” said Laura Kasper, a UCC staff psychologist.

UCC also has a 24-hour hotline for emergencies, and like SACC, all communication with the center is confidential and separate from academic records.

GW students also assist sexual assault victims. Junior Emily Metzger is an online hotline counselor for RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network). Metzger provides live support for victims, their friends and family through an instant message format of communication that America Online designed specially for RAINN. This program is the first of its kind.

“It helps people who don’t feel comfortable calling hotlines,” Metzger said. She added that the program is completely anonymous, as the Web site is unable to track IP addresses.

Although her work “can be really intense at times,” Metzger said her job is important in helping people talk. “Stereotypes are perpetuated when people don’t talk about these things.”

Though services offered through the University to help deal with rape trauma are extensive, the University also offers programs to help prevent such assaults from occurring in the first place. Rape Aggression Defense is a national self-defense course taught by UPD officers who have completed many hours of intensive training.

“If a person feels as if they need self-protection, the RAD system is a great way to learn,” UPD Inspector Mark Balazik said.

Drawing from various martial arts techniques, RAD teaches women how to use their greater lower body strength when defending themselves.

Although the class is taught once a semester at various locations around campus, Inspector Balazik said a group may request an additional course offering, and if there is enough interest, UPD tries to accommodate. The course is normally $25, but UPD offers it for $12 to cover the cost of materials.

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