Another sexual assault on campus requires thinking about self-defense


UK Feminist Alliance marches campus to protest sexual assault at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., on Nov. 11, 2016. The group demanded for the university administration to release the redacted sexual assault records involving former professor James Harwood. Photo by Joshua Qualls | Staff

Hannah Woosley

On May 7, the UK Police Department sent out a campus-wide email that notified students and staff of a sexual assault that occurred in the Gatton College of Business and Economics the previous week.

The suspect and victim met for the first time after communicating on Whisper, an anonymous social media app to connect with new people, according to the UK Police. The suspect forcibly pulled the woman onto his lap, grabbed her inappropriately and kissed her. Yet another college woman fell victim to a sexual act that she did not want.

Unfortunately, this was not the first report of sexual assault on UK’s campus for the spring 2018 semester. Between Jan. 10, 2018, and May 4, 2018, there were nine reports of sex offenses that occurred on campus, ranging from sexual abuse to rape, and eight reports of assault, according to the University of Kentucky Daily Crime Log.

We as college women should not fear walking on campus during the day or night, living in dorm rooms or studying late into the night at the campus library. From one college woman to another, here are self-defense tips learned throughout four years of college and many late nights on campus.

Carry pepper spray.

The simplest of tools may save your life and prevent a sexual assault or harassment episode from prolonging or worsening. When walking on campus late at night, switch your pepper spray on and carry it ready-in-hand to spray until you are in a safe space.

Learn about physical defense. 

If you have the opportunity to physically defend yourself, focus on four extremely sensitive spots on the assailant’s body: the eyes, nose, groin and knees. These four spots can weaken as assailant and disable them momentarily, giving you enough time to get away and call the police.

Be alert. 

Always be aware of your surroundings, especially at night when crimes are more likely to occur. Keep headphones out of your ears and don’t glue your eyes to your phone. Keep your head straight up, your eyes watching and your ears listening to things around you that are out of place.

Use SafeTrek. 

Consider downloading the app SafeTrek, an app designed to get emergency help to you without needing to call 911. When feeling uneasy or unsafe about an area or person, simply open the app, press and hold the button until you know you are safe, release the button and type your four-digit pin. If you do not feel safe, release your finger from the button, do not enter your pin and the app will immediately call 911 itself with your exact location.

The frequent occurrences of women being sexually assaulted on UK’s campus is disheartening, but we cannot let this conversation end until the issue is put to its end.