Be Safe at College!

A dark and often hidden side of student life is the prevalence of sexual assault. Know the resources for keeping yourself and others safe, supporting victims, and holding perpetrators accountable.

DOWNLOAD: Be Safe at College Resources

According to RAINN (the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), college women aged 18-24 are at three times greater risk of sexual violence. Among undergraduate students, 26.4 percent of females and 6.8 percent of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation, RAINN statistics show.

Check out RAINN’s Staying Safe on Campus webpage for important advice that may make a world of difference in your college experience.

Here is contact information concerning sexual assault for students studying in Tompkins County:

SUPPORT

Advocacy Center of Tompkins County

Free, confidential, local support and advocacy for survivors, friends, and families around domestic or dating violence, sexual assault, and child sexual abuse.

Hotline (607) 277-5000

Office (607) 277-3203

Instagram: @advocacytc

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network(RAINN)

RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline and provides programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

Hotline 24/7 (800) 656-HOPE

Online (English)

Online (en español)

Instagram: @rainnn

GET INVOLVED

Sexual Violence Prevention Network (Cornell University)

Student organization helps victims and survivors and promotes equity in relationships through events, campaigns, and partnerships.

svpnetwork.cornell@gmail.com

Instagram: @svpn_cu

IC Strike (Ithaca College)

Student organization dedicated to education, activism, tangible change,and allyship for survivors of sexual assault and violence.

icstrike@ithaca.edu

Instagram: @icstrike

EMERGENCY

911 Ithaca Police Assistance

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Cornell University

Cornell Police (607) 255-1111

Cornell Health & CAPS (607) 255-5155

Victim Advocacy (607) 255-1212

Title IX Office (607) 255-2242

Student Conduct (607) 255-4680

Ithaca College

Campus Police (607) 274-3353

CAPS (607) 274-3136

Title IX Office (607) 274-7761

Student Conduct (607) 274-3375

Tompkins Cortland Community College

Campus Police (607) 844-6511

Counseling (607) 844-6577

Title IX Office (607) 844-4440

Student Conduct (607) 844-8222 x6591

Are You Safe on Campus?

It’s the start of a new academic year, and colleges are brimming with exciting academic challenges and social opportunities. A dark and often hidden side of student life, however, is the prevalence of sexual assault.

According to RAINN (the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), one out of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime, and college women aged 18-24 are at three times greater risk of sexual violence.

Among undergraduate students, 26.4 percent of females and 6.8 percent of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation, RAINN statistics show.

“College campuses can give you a sense of security, a feeling that everyone knows each other and watches out for one another,” RAINN says. “There are perpetrators who take advantage of this feeling of safety and security to commit acts of sexual violence.”

Check out RAINN’s Staying Safe on Campus webpage for important advice that may make a world of difference in your college experience.

“As bystanders, students can learn ways of stepping in to prevent crimes like sexual assault from occurring. When it comes to personal safety, there are steps you can take as well. No tips can absolutely guarantee safety—sexual violence can happen to anyone, and it’s not the only crime that can occur on a college campus. It’s important to remember that if you are sexually assaulted on campus it is not your fault—help and support are available.”

RAINN’s college webpage includes sections on increasing on-campus safety; protecting yourself in social settings; feeling safe after an assault; and additional resources for specifically for students.

Here is contact information concerning sexual assault for students studying in Tompkins County:

Advocacy Center of Tompkins County

Local support for survivors, friends, and families of domestic violence and sexual assault

Office (607) 277-3203

Hotline (607) 277-5000

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)

RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline and provides programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

Hotline (800) 656-HOPE

Online (English) (en español)

Cornell University

Cornell Police (607) 255-1111

Cornell Health & CAPS (607) 255-5155

Victim Advocacy (607) 255-1212

Title IX Office (607) 255-2242

Student Conduct (607) 255-4680

Ithaca College

Campus Police (607) 274-3353

CAPS (607) 274-3136

Title IX Office (607) 274-7761

Student Conduct (607) 274-3375

Tompkins Cortland Community College

Campus Police (607) 844-6511

Counseling (607) 844-6577

Title IX Office (607) 844-4440

Student Conduct (607) 844-8222 x6591

The Advocacy Center Steps Up

Kristi Taylor sits at her computer and logs on to Zoom. The education director at the Advocacy Center of Tompkins County smiles about the technical difficulties using the software. She holds up the soft blanket that covers her lap, just one of the little rituals that get her through long video conferences in a changing work environment.

Kristi Taylor, education director at the Advocacy Center of Tompkins County

Putting in endless hours online hasn’t been the only change in Taylor’s routine at the Advocacy Center, an Ithaca nonprofit organization that supports victims of domestic violence. While the Covid-19 pandemic brought a suspected spike in cases of domestic violence, stay-at-home guidelines made it more difficult for victims to reach out for help. In March 2020, the Advocacy Center’s hotline went cold.

“We weren’t able to connect with survivors, and we weren’t hearing from people,” Taylor explained. “And that was really, really concerning for us, because what that told us is that people were trapped with their abusive partners.”

The center moved swiftly to address the new conditions, finding solutions in technology and social media as the center’s work went remote almost entirely (a notable exception being the center’s 24/7 shelter for abuse victims). First, the center significantly increased its use of Instagram to spread awareness and combat any impression that its activities had ceased. It launched an Instagram campaign with the hashtag #wearestillhere. Staff members posted pictures of themselves holding posters with the hashtag message, putting the center’s contact information in the caption. The center also added podcasts and blog posts to its education outreach mix.

By the summer, pandemic restrictions began to ease somewhat and the Advocacy Center’s hotline began buzzing again. The center upgraded its technology to handle multiple hotline calls simultaneously, and introduced a hybrid virtual platform for training additional hotline volunteers to manage the influx.

The Advocacy Center also moved its in-person support groups for domestic violence survivors online, the Survivor Empowerment group and Knowledge is Power group. The groups utilize secure video conferencing software during meetings to give a face-to-face connection while also protecting attendees’ privacy. Group numbers fluctuate due to the center’s “drop-in” policy, but usually seven to 10 people attend the once-a-week meetings lasting an hour or more.

Between July and October, hotline calls increased 55 percent over the same period in 2019. That aligns with a study published in December in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, which indicates that cases of domestic abuse have significantly risen since the start of the pandemic in early 2020.

Pandemic conditions from stay-at-home orders to work-from-home practices meant that abuse victims became more isolated from their support systems, and as a result, more deeply trapped in their abusive relationships. “One of the most powerful tools that abusers have is creating isolation,” said Taylor.

Between July and October, the Advocacy Center provided support to 34 percent more domestic abuse survivors compared to the same period in 2019. Compared to the previous year, in 2020 the center also supported 44 percent more children and teens who had been sexually abused.

The Advocacy Center was founded in 1977 as the Task Force for Battered Women. At the time, its purpose was to provide women who had suffered from domestic abuse and their children a safe place to live. The organization also helps victims of sexual assault and rape, victims of child sexual abuse, family members of survivors, and people of any age and gender who have experienced domestic and sexual violence.

—By Margaret Kent

Margaret Kent, an intern at The Sophie Fund, is a senior at Ithaca College majoring in Communication Management and Design with a concentration in Corporate Communication and a minor in Writing.