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The Red Zone

The beginning months of the Fall semester at college pose an increased risk of sexual violence. Between the months of August, September, October, and November more than 50% of all sexual assaults on college campuses occur. This is known as the Red Zone. It has begun to be studied and many factors contribute to this increased risk, but the naivety of college students about their new environment has led to them becoming easier targets for sexual violence.

Why is this important? Knowing the risk factors of sexual assault and understanding the statistics can help educate people on what to look for in friends or family that may have experienced a form of sexual violence or assault. Among undergraduate students 26.4% of females and 6.9% of males (aged 18-24) experienced sexual violence or assault in college. In addition to this, around 70% of all sexual assaults go unreported for reasons such as fear around telling people or the repercussions of telling someone.

What is the link between sexual assault in college students and human trafficking?

One thing that connects the two is the idea of relocation that makes them more vulnerable to both human trafficking and sexual violence. Maraya Lasinsky, chief advisor for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security who created the Blue Project, made to educate law enforcement on the signs of human trafficking, specifically mentions relocation as a major risk factor. Many college students relocate to college and move to an area with little to no familial support or network. This is exacerbated in your first year of college, specifically the Redzone months, because you have not built connections on campus.

It is essential to educate young people on the risks of going into college. Even if you are not at a traditional four-year university, being the age of college students (18-24) increases your risk of being targeted by traffickers and increases the risk of becoming victim to sexual violence.

Important signs to look for in friends or family who may have been subjected to sexual violence include:

  • Signs of depression, such as persistent sadness, lack of energy, changes in sleep or appetite, withdrawing from normal activities, etc.

  • Self-harming behaviors, thoughts of suicide, or suicidal behaviors

  • Low self-esteem

  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

  • Anxiety or worry about situations that did not seem to cause anxiety in the past

  • Avoiding specific situations or places

  • Falling grades or withdrawing from classes

  • Increase in drug or alcohol use

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual violence, contact the Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 for resources and a 24/7 phone helpline. Youth4Abolition® is dedicated to educating people about the warning signs of sexual violence that can lead to trafficking.

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