Sexual Assault Opinion Article

We’ve all seen article after article on how to avoid sexual assault; to never set our drinks down, carry our keys in between our fingers, and watch out for our friends at parties. But do any of us ever think it will actually happen to us? Those are things that only people going to bigger schools need to worry about, right?

Even here, at Black Hills State University, sexual assault is a problem we should all be concerned about, because it’s happening. It’s just not being reported. One in every five college students will experience some form of sexual assault during their college career — most likely during their first year of school. And yet, across the country, only 5 percent of these assaults will be reported.

Before you decide to lock yourself in your room for the rest of your time here at BHSU, know that there are still some things you can do to avoid sexual assault.

  • Stay alert — Yes, Spearfish is a small town and you can do things here like leave your car unlocked while you run into the bank, but keep in mind that that doesn’t mean it’s unheard of for a sexual assault to happen here. Date rape drugs are actually more common in this area than you would think, so keep an eye on your drink at parties and bars.
  • Let go of the “Midwestern Nice” – If a situation makes you uncomfortable, you don’t have to stay in it to be polite. Tell the creepy guy to get out of your dorm room. That’s your space, don’t let him creep up your space. In the long run, which is worse: offending someone or being assaulted because you didn’t want to offend them?
  • Come back to campus if you need to — If you live on campus, you’ve probably heard an RA say, “if you go out to drink, don’t come back.” This is because your body is technically a container and carrying alcohol in it into a residence hall is breaking the student code of conduct. However, if your only options are to spend the night at the house party where someone is making you feel uncomfortable or go back to your dorm — choose the dorm. There isn’t a single RA on campus that would rather you get raped just so you don’t break the rules. If your gut is telling you that staying the night at someone’s house after a party is a bad idea, listen to it.
  • Watch out for warning signs in relationships — Most sexual assaults are not what we think they are. No one is hiding in the trees by the Young Center waiting to jump out and grab you as you walk by. Most assaults come from someone the victim knows really well — friends, significant others, exes. If you start to get controlling vibes from someone you’re considering dating, run the other way.
  • If it does happen, know your rights — Even if you were completely wasted at a party, being drunk makes you legally unable to give consent, so it’s still rape. Even if you were drinking underage — if you go to the hospital after your assault, or you report the assault to the police, under the Good Samaritan Law you won’t be charged for the underage drinking. Also, remember that you can go to the hospital without reporting it to the police, but that going to the police later is much harder if you never went to the hospital. So basically, if you’re on the fence about reporting it right away, go to the hospital anyway.


If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, take advantage of the resources here on campus. Sexual Assault Survivor Support (S.A.S.S.) is a group here at BHSU that meets to offer a safe place and a supportive environment for survivors to meet and work through their experiences.