Advocates warn of sexual assault ‘red zone’ as college begins

Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 10:44 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - The term “red zone” describes the time from the start of classes until Thanksgiving break when there is a spike in sexual assaults on college campuses.

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) says more than 50% of college sexual assaults happen between August to November.

The Johnson County Sexual Assault Response Team is a coalition of sexual assault nurse examiners, rape victim advocates, law enforcement officers, emergency room staff and prosecuting attorneys developed to provide coordinated services to adolescent/adult victims of sexual assault.

Audrey Helt, a sexual assault nurse examiner with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, is a member of JCSART. She says this is a trend she’s witnessed, and that girls who are freshmen are the most at risk during this period of time.

Helt said there are many factors that play into the increased risk for all students during this time. Many students are in a new environment for the first time, with no guidance from parents.

“They don’t really have a solid friend group established yet to look out for them,” Helt said. “You know they’re adjusting to new housing roommates, finding new social groups, so they’re experiencing a large amount of change in a small period of time.”

Helt said it’s important to keep an eye on your drink when you’re out and stay with a group that you trust. She also said bystanders play an important role in preventing sexual assault. It can help to be on the lookout for other people who may be in a dangerous situation.

There are also resources available at colleges. The University of Iowa offers its free Nite Ride service, which runs from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. each night, and can help students get home safely.

For anyone who has been assaulted, JCSART says you can contact the 24-hour rape crisis line at 319-335-6000, reach out to the Rape Victim Advocacy Program or local law enforcement, or go to the emergency room at the University of Iowa Hospital or Mercy Iowa City.