The misconceptions and truths of sexual assault

By Julia Heck

“On Sunday, August 26th , sometime shortly after midnight, the Department of Campus Safety (DOCS) was anonymously informed of an unconscious subject in the backyard of a West Main Street home. DOCS contacted 911 who immediately responded and found a female member of our community. The semi-conscious woman was determined to have possibly been sexually assaulted?”

Most members of the college community have forgotten this emailed alert that circulated days after Fall Semester began. However, to those close to the incident, many circumstances linked to that horrific night remain unresolved, and the night of August 26 haunts them to this day. April is Sexual Assault awareness month, and it seems fitting to explore the truths of sexual assault.

“One of the biggest misconceptions is that we are most vulnerable around strangers in parking garages or dark alleys? but the truth is most rape or sexual assault cases involve people we know very well, or even in dating relationships,” said Lauren Wallace from Rape Crisis Intervention Service of Carroll County. “About 73% of victims know their assailants.”

Female college students ages 18 to 24 are at the highest risk in America. In 2001, 97,000 students were victims of alcohol related sexual assault or date rape, according to In turn, sexual assault is the most underreported crime in the U.S. largely due to misinformed victims and peers.

McDaniel students were casually questioned about what they considered sexual assault. Some of their responses are alarming:

“If she was dressed slutty and being really flirty I would think she was asking for it?then I guess that wouldn’t be considered rape,” said a male student.

One’s appearance and outward manner may, at times, be deceiving; however, these behaviors are never an invitation for sex without consent.

“If you’re drunk, nobody [forced you to] drink, so you are responsible for what happens. You put yourself in the situation,” said a female student. She is one of many victims of a very common misconception. Though the case may seem less clear when alcohol is involved, without consent, it is still sexual assault.

It’s important for students to be well informed about the truths of sexual assault in order for victims to receive justice. The number of rapists who will ever spend a day in jail is a frightening 6%.

All students should become more aware and act upon incidents involving sexual assault. This is imperative so that unforgotten or unsolved cases such as the one during the first weekend of school do not happen. Or perhaps it is necessary to horrify the community so much that the victim is not the one to leave campus.