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Column: Sexual assault awareness can put an end to the “rape schedule”

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You don’t have someone to walk with you to your car after work, so you walk to your car at night alone, with your keys in hand, ready to press the alarm if you feel like there’s danger. You get close — jump in your car, automatically lock the doors and take a deep breath. Shew, walking alone at night is scary, right?

After a long day, you go out with your friends — and a guy down the bar sends you a shot. You respectfully decline. You don’t want to take the risk of getting “too drunk,” and something bad happening. You go to throw a dart because it’s your turn and forget to take your drink with you. It was sitting at the bar next to your friend, but what if the guy a few seats down slipped something in it? It’s not worth the risk.

It’s finally feeling like spring, and you put on a new sundress. You feel so good, but worried that it’s a little too tight — and you may “distract” men in your class. You decide to wear a flannel over it, just to make sure it feels more appropriate.

It’s the weekend and you go out with your friends. You don’t drink and drive, so you take an Uber out. Living in a small town, you can never be promised there will be an Uber available when you’re ready to go home. You automatically thought to bring a purse with the things you’d need in it for the next day so you can stay with your girlfriend — because you’re scared if a guy offers you a way home, he may feel invited, too.

You tell your mom you want pepper spray to carry around campus, just in case you feel scared. It’s better to be safe, right?

You go to college orientation and watch as they perform a skit, showing a girl getting taken advantage of, then telling you about their new self-defense class you can take — you know, so it doesn’t happen to you.

Women are taught to live by a rape schedule.

It didn’t hit me until the other day — when my professor posted something on one of my sociology courses’ Facebook page:

“When I was in college, a teacher once said that all women live by a ‘rape schedule.’ I was baffled by the term, but as she went on to explain, I got really freaked out. Because I realized I knew exactly what she was talking about. And you do too. Because of their constant fear of rape (conscious or not), women do things throughout the day to protect themselves …” — Jessica Valenti

We don’t take those precautions because we’re scared of being robbed — but because we’re scared of being sexually assaulted. We, either consciously or subconsciously, do things throughout the day to protect ourselves from sexual assault.

According to RAINN, 11.2 percent of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Take more time during this month to step up against sexual assault. If you have the means to donate, every donation until April 30 will be matched, giving RAINN twice the amount of funds to support their Sexual Assault Hotline. Let’s use this month to talk about it and bring awareness to the situation — so we can start to live by our own schedule — not a rape schedule.

For more information on Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, or to get help or learn more about sexual violence, go to www.rainn.org.

Karima Neghmouche can be contacted at [email protected]

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