Experts: One in four college students are rape victims

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(WTNH)–It’s frightening, but experts say one in four college students are rape victims.

Peggy Pisano, Director of Victim Services at the Rape Crisis Center of Milford says this is not something a parent of a college freshman wants to hear, “We call the time of first day of class through Thanksgiving, the red zone.” Pisano says it’s a time when students are trying to fit in and are clearly around a lot of alcohol.

She says the most important thing a parent can do is let them know the reality about rape. “Whether male or female that it happens in one in four college students so give them the numbers, the clear hard facts,” said Pisano.

Pisano says the biggest issue is understanding consent. She says, “You do not have consent unless you’ve heard the words, yes they do want this to happen.”

She says reminding students about peer pressure is crucial, for example, when a young man is trying to impress his buddies. Pisano says, “You could be committing sexual assault and your peers aren’t going to be there for you when police come knocking on your door.”

Pisano says when it comes to staying safe, remember the buddy system. She says, “Try not to place themselves in situations where they have no support and no control and again drugs and alcohol are a huge factor especially on a campus. Seventy five percent of sexual assaults involve alcohol.”

Pisano says there is some good news on college campuses. “Connecticut really has stepped up in our response to sexual assault.”

Some 2015 Yale University graduates say they saw a big difference over a four year period. Marisa Brown says, “It just wasn’t as verbalized or talked about it. It was certainly behind the scenes if it did happen.” Robert Pecoraro Says, “It’s definitely getting better. It’s good now I think, but there’s always room for improvement.”

Senator Richard Blumenthal says a lot more work needs to be done. He’s one of the co-sponsors of the Campus Accountanility and Safety Act, which he says has increasing bispartisan support.

Senator Blumenthal says, “The victims and survivors need better protection, they need confidential advisors, and a sense that the college and the perpetrator will be held accountable.”

Blumenthal says when it comes to sexual assaults they quote “ruin lives and college careers.” He’s hopeful this act will eventually become law. It’s being reintroduced this next legislative session.

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