Campus Safety: Where sexual assault happens

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This campus safety series started out by talking to young women about how they feel afraid walking home at night from the Heritage Halls overflow parking in fear they’ll be sexually assaulted.

But sexual assault rarely happens in those scenarios, in fact it often happens in places people are familiar with.

Women take certain daily precautions to stay safe, but there’s one place that most people put their guard down: on a date.

First and second dates are a hot spot for sexual assault. “That’s where it’s happening, you know a car, an apartment you know those areas,” BYU Police Lt. Jeff Long said.

Being in a car on an infamous Provo date driving up the canyon, or parking at places like the Y or Squaw Peak, as well as being alone in an apartment while watching a movie for example, creates scenarios where dates, most often men, perform sexual acts that are not consensual. 

This creates guilt and shame for the victim in feeling that it’s their fault for going on the date in the first place. But sexual assault is not the fault of the victim, regardless of what they choose to do on a date.

Lisa Leavitt, the lead sexual assault survivor advocate at BYU, said there’s a lack of knowledge surrounding consent and safety.

“We have a particularly naive population in this campus,” Leavitt said. There are a couple points she said our society can improve on.

First, consent needs to be more often and more adamantly taught. Second, people should be more wary of trusting dates, especially on dating apps regardless of green flag terms like “returned missionary.” And third, we should be more willing to discuss sexual assault openly with each other.

“There’s a lot of power in peer to peer education,” Leavitt said.

BYU offers resources to victims of sexual assault such as the Title IX Office, sexual assault survivor advocates like Leavitt and Women’s Services and Resources.

If you are a victim of sexual assault and would like help, the Title IX Office and Leavitt are located in the Wilkinson Student Center.

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