Stalking, harassment or abuse – you either know someone who has experienced it or you’ve been through it yourself. These threats come in many forms and can take a hard emotional toll on a college student. (After all, classes and bills stop for no one.) Navigating college is hard enough without feeling manipulated, watched or threatened by a partner, ex or stranger.
Thankfully, there are resources on campus to help you with various threatening situations. Our Title IX coordinator, student counseling and campus police are a few of these. Understanding how these resources function to protect and provide a way out of a bad situation is pivotal to navigating college safely.
Title IX is a U.S. federal civil rights law for gender equity and functions to protect individuals from gender discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, stalking, dating violence and domestic violence. Michele Reed, Augusta University’s Title IX coordinator, works with students who have been through or suspect these kinds of situations.
If you have been non-consensually touched in any way, filing a report to Michele Reed is an essential step to getting help. Reed and the Campus Sexual Assault Support Team can assist you in finding proper medical care and legal action. A forensic medical exam could be important to these situations. Forensic exams involve looking for injuries, taking samples and using DNA testing to determine if and how someone has physically touched you. Believe it or not, this exam is not only for instances of rape, but can reveal if you have been strangled or if your breast area or other body parts have been touched. The exam must be taken up to 5 days after the incident to be accurate, so quick action is needed.
Our Title IX coordinator can also assist in identifying threats before they are carried out. For example, perhaps you notice your partner goes through your phone and bag every time you are with them. This makes you uncomfortable, and you’ve already told them not to do it; however, they continually try to sneak through your things when you aren’t looking. This is a red flag that could point towards stalking or harassment. Reed would be glad to talk with you and help determine what steps to take.
If you witness sexual harassment or assault, you can file a report as a witness. Title IX also protects employees on campus if a student is harassing them. You can contact Reed via phone (706-721-0901) or email, and visit AU’s website for more information on campus sexual assault support.
Augusta University’s Student Counseling and Psychological Services is on this list because of the support it can provide to your mental health. If you struggle with past abuse, a current relationship or a specific situation, counseling can help you onto a path of action and healing. AU counselors use various resources to help students progress towards emotional stability and consistent self-care. Even more, counselors can help identify if an issue within a current relationship is a place where you can grow or a potential threat to you from the other person. Regular counseling throughout your schooling can aid the health of your relationships, healing from past hurts, and your current safety. You can call 706-737-1471 to make an appointment and visit their website for more information.
The Augusta University Police Department is here to serve you, and the Rave Guardian mobile app allows you to contact AU Police quickly. In Guardian, you can create a profile with emergency contacts, vehicles you drive, and emergency medical information and then share your profile with law enforcement. You can also enable location-based alerts, submit a tip, or create a safety timer. Safety timers allow AU Police or a selected friend or family member to survey the location of your phone for a certain amount of time. If you know it will take you 15 minutes to walk from Galloway Hall to Allgood Hall, for example, you can set a 15 minute timer and share your location with a “guardian.” This could be helpful if you feel threatened by someone on campus, or just feel generally unsafe. If you want an escort to walk you to your car late at night, give AU Police a call. Use the Guardian app or call 706-721-2911 to contact them.
Personal Safety Tips
Below are some steps you can take to increase your personal safety. (This is by no means complete or comprehensive, but provides a good place to start if you want to feel more secure.)
- Take time regularly to analyze your relationships and how you feel. Do you feel uneasy, anxious, sad, or angry at least half the time you spend with or thinking about a certain person? Do you have trouble confronting them about issues? Have you considered breaking up with a partner, but been unable to do it? Do you feel easily intimidated by them? Consider finding support through counseling or our Title IX coordinator if you say yes to any of these questions.
- Confide in someone trusted. That is, do not keep what is happening to yourself if you suspect that there is a real problem. Be wise in choosing who to confide in; a close, trusted friend rather than a classmate or acquaintance is better, for example. If you have an adult or mentor you look up to, this might be even better. Of course, you always have the right to contact Michele Reed, should you feel threatened.
- Set your personal social media accounts to private. This will help guard your information from potential stalkers.
- Take self-defense training. There are various disciplines and approaches to this. Augusta University offers Rape Aggression Defense courses for free.