The first few weeks of school are an exciting time for incoming freshmen and transfer students. Everything is new, there are so many opportunities to explore, and there’s a lot of fun to be had before your teachers start piling on the assignments. However, the beginning of the school year is also the time that new students should be most alert about on-campus crimes. Studies show that most sexual assault survivors are attacked in the first six weeks of college. This period of time is known as “the Red Zone”, and students are thought to be more vulnerable during these weeks because they are unfamiliar with their surroundings and because there are more opportunities for perpetrators to strike during social situations, like back-to-school parties.
During this time, it’s important to look out for yourself as well as your friends. Many survivors of sexual assault will isolate themselves physically or emotionally as a result of their experience, so all students should be able to recognize these behaviors and know the signs of victimization. If a friend seems constantly tired, depressed, or withdrawn, loses their appetite, sleeps excessively, has emotional outbursts, or exhibits any other behavior that seems out of character, encourage them to talk to you about what’s going on in their life. Let them know that you care and you are willing to help if they are going through a hard time. If you find that someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, you can assist them through the recovery process and to speak out about it. The National Center for Victims of Crime suggests spending time with others, re-establishing a normal daily routine, getting adequate rest and nutrition, and finding outlets such as exercise as ways to cope with a personal crime. You can help a friend with this by checking in on them regularly, and offering to do some of these things with them if they are not prepared to return to a daily routine by themselves. However, it’s very important to still allow them privacy and autonomy.
Deciding to seek help following a sexual assault is a very personal decision. Even if a friend makes a decision that you don’t agree with following sexual assault, it’s imperative to remain supportive and understand that they have chosen what they feel would best help them recover. Some survivors opt to seek counseling but not take legal action; some report the assault to police and some report it to their school; some prefer not to receive any professional help at all. If they do decide to seek help; look for resources on your campus and in your community that could benefit them, and if not, make sure that they have a strong support system in their family and friends. The biggest thing you can do to help is simply be there for them no matter their choice.
If you suspect that someone you care for has been a victim of sexual assault, remember these signs and ways to help. Be aware of the Red Zone at the beginning of each school year. Always put your safety and the safety of your friends first to have the best year possible!
I find October to be all about experimentation of appearance and the bolder the better. It brings the transitional time into Fall and I think it is so important to take advantage of this time of year!
There are many articles that discuss how clothes can affect mood and treatment by others based on their fit and color. Below are just a few:
- Colors and Mood: How the Colors You Wear Affect You
I learned that yellow can give you a pick-me-up on down days, and blue helps with creativity!
- The Link Between Clothing Choices and Emotional States
I learned that baggy pants might make scientists think someone is having a bad day. I wonder if comfortable yoga pants count?
- How Clothes Can Boost Mood
I learned that clothes can be thought of as memory catchers. Seems sort of like a lucky pencil concept to me.
After scanning through these articles, it made me wonder if there was some way of testing these theories out. I found this very simple experiment which involves seeing how someone is treated according to what they are wearing here:
Testing How Clothing Choices Impact the Behavior of Others Around Us
A twist on this experiment might just be how people react that you already know especially if your appearance is drastically altered.
There can be times when you are just plain in a rut and have no idea what your next move is, or you are just feeling anxious as the year comes to a close. Sometimes the best idea is to change something, and in this case it may be your wardrobe.
As a rape survivor people think that once the act of rape has been done and years have passed you suddenly are cured. The real struggle begins as time passes and you experience what I like to call aftershocks of triggers. A trigger is anything that can make you feel a sense of panic, or terror taking you back to the same place as the rape. Personally, I have always had triggers to due the violent nature of my attack and the use of a trusting relationship. The feeling of being safe I have never felt in any city or honestly with any person after my assault.
It becomes a challenge wondering when to open up and trust individuals. Normally, before I leave my home I call, text or message a friend or family member just so they know where I am going and more importantly who I am with. This had been my routine even in my college years ago and I continue it to this day. However, before my assault I only used this system when walking or going out to unknown places and meeting strangers. I never thought about it with someone I knew and trusted especially in the well to do area of The Hamptons. Being held captive, raped, and tortured for hours by an individual that I trusted and considered a friend caused me to reevaluate how to keep safe in my life. I wished with my whole heart that I had a way to reach out for help it would have saved me and years of physical and mental pain. With the growth in technology many companies are trying to find ways to stop crime with some simply for money, and others truly to help people before it’s too late. One amazing company is the Companion app it’s truly a lifesaver. Normally I try not to personally endorse a product yet this one and their founders struck a deep chord with me. I actually had a recent incident where I used the app while traveling home from the train.
The app was started by 5 students from University of Michigan with the mission to increase safety on college campuses. Companion app is easy and free to use simply download the app from either the play or ios store to your phone. The app ensures that you don’t have to walk home alone allowing friends and family to keep track of your journey. The app tracks your journey if the individual does not make it or goes off course the app asks if you are ok, if no response is given within 15 seconds their contacts are notified. It also has the option to click I feel nervous whether walking or already at a location. Of Course if necessary there is an option to contact 911 with one click on the app. We are honored to partner with Companion app and look forward to their improvements with their app and making all college communities safe. For more information please check out their website http://www.companionapp.io/