A vast majority of alcohol- and drug-related sexual assaults occur during graduation time and warm summer months when parties are prevalent, according to the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO).
Young women age 16 to 19 are four times more likely to be victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault especially when alcohol or drugs are involved.
A large segment of society focuses on rape where the perpetrator is a stranger, according to the WCSO. In fact, almost all rape cases in northern Nevada are committed by someone the victim knows.
The sheriff’s office wants parents and young adults to be aware of potentially dangerous situations to reduce the risk of sexual assault, discourages underage drinking, supports Safe and Sober graduation celebrations and recommends the following:
• Don’t let alcohol or other drugs cloud your judgment. Alcohol decreases awareness, so people are less likely to guard themselves against aggressive or coercive behavior.
• Acknowledge and understand that consent to sexual activity can be withdrawn at any time. Without putting yourself in danger, leave if you feel uncomfortable. Most importantly, if you do not consent, verbalize it. “Say No! Get up and go.”
• Avoid going into secluded areas. Be conscious of exits or other escape routes. Think about options for transportation (cab, car, bus, etc.)
• Have a code word with friends or family so that if you don’t feel comfortable, you can call them and communicate your discomfort without the person you are with knowing.
• Always keep an eye on every beverage you drink. Once you lose sight of your drink, don’t consume it anymore — get a new one.
• Trust your instincts. If a situation or place makes you feel uncomfortable or uneasy, leave.
• Be aware of your surroundings. Knowing where you are and who is around you can help you find a way to get out of a bad situation.
• Make sure your cell phone is with you and charged and that you have money.
The sheriff’s office encourages victims and witnesses to report violent crimes immediately. Call 911 in case of an emergency; non-emergency number is 832-WCSO (9276) or Secret Witness at 322-4900. If the victim is uncomfortable about contacting the police, contact the Crisis Call Center at 784-8090.