The first few months of fall semester in colleges and universities are a blur of new experiences! The anticipation for a fresh start or return is no doubt filled with nerves and excitement.
There’s a lot to think about during the first few months of school, especially right out of high school. And while you might not want to think about sexual assault, rates are highest on campus this time of year.
Before we dive in, remember that sexual assault is never, ever your fault. The way you dress, the amount you drink, the people you choose to hang out with, and your sexual history play no role. Know that our team of survivors and advocates are here to help you find local services and pathways to healing, whether it’s moments or years after your assault.
We believe you, and we believe you deserve to heal your own way.
First, what is the Red Zone?
The Red Zone is the time between the start of fall classes and Thanksgiving break when sexual assault rates on college campuses are at their highest of the year. Over 50% of all college sexual assaults happen during this time, making prevention and access to services key.
The Red Zone creates a perfect storm for campus sexual assaults to occur, coinciding with back to school parties, rush events, Homecoming, and Halloween.
While this information is concerning, remember that knowledge is power. College can be a time of immense pleasure, exploration, and joy, and it’s essential to trust your intuition.
Acquiring the ability to trust one's gut instinct is extremely beneficial. While your gut alone won’t prevent sexual assault, remember that no incident of harm is ever your fault.
Supporting Yourself During the Red Zone
Through education and awareness, we can create a campus culture free from sexual violence. While education and awareness is critical, it can also be triggering. We’re here to support you as you heal.
If you’re brand new to campus, here are additional tips that may help you this fall:
- Put on your walking shoes, and get to know your campus. Or, pretend to be a high schooler, and take a guided tour!
- Read up on your resources! Every campus has a unique system of resources ready to support students. Become familiar with your wellness center, mental health services, and Title IX office. Invite your friends over, and have each of them research one campus resource. Then, make it a round table, and discuss what you learned! Don’t forget snacks.
- Never leave your dorm without your phone? Download the Noonlight app to trigger a quick alert that notifies local police of your location if you feel unsafe or have an emergency. This app is designed for situations where you want police intervention. Learn more about Leda’s partnership with Noonlight here.
- Go out with reliable friends. You know the ones! It helps to navigate new experiences with people you trust. Pro tip: Chat with your friends about your boundaries with drinking and drug use and the way that substances make you feel or behave. Ask someone you trust for support if you ever need it.
- If you initiate a hookup, create space to talk about your desires, triggers, and boundaries first. Seek consent for all sexual acts, and create the same space for your partner(s).
- Last but not least, trust your gut!
As your fall semester continues, we have your back. And if you (or someone you know) is sexually assaulted on campus, we're here to help you. Explore our services for free support 24 hours a day. Leda Health believes you, and we are here to help you heal.