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Trust your intuition

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A sexual assault occurs in America every 109 seconds and three out of four times, the perpetrator is someone the victim knows. Do not disregard your intuition; it may save you from being a victim of sexual assault.

Sexual assault may seem like something that happens in dark alleyways with scary strangers, but in 55 percent of cases, rape is committed at or near the victim’s home by someone who the victim thought they could trust.

Children are taught from a young age to place trust in people who seem as though they are consistently harmless—teachers, relatives, family friends and neighbors.  These people are deemed by society to be individuals who are expected to be upstanding, honest and ethical. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Sexual abuse often “happens in families with blood relatives and close friends in backdrops you might not suspect,” said Kristen Ziman, an Illinois police chief.

Because so many rape cases are committed by people the victim already knows and likely even has a relationship with, it can be surmised that the victim may have had inclination of something being amiss prior to the incident.  However, the victim has likely been conditioned to believe their instinctual red flag is nothing more than an overreaction.

“Be vigilant…by listening to your intuition. When something feels wrong, it usually is,” Ziman concluded.

This means people must remain cognizant of their perception of others—if someone seems over-friendly or a little creepy, do not brush off natural instincts.

CNN writer and mother Katia Hetter believes children are born with the innate ability to honor their intuition. Hetter said she refuses to ignore her “own child’s currently strong instincts to back off from touching someone who she chooses not to touch.”

An individual’s body belongs to them and them alone, and when affection is forced, a personal sense of self is lost, and the ability to be conscious of intuition decreases.  This often starts when young children are made to believe they must show affection in a physical manner to anyone and everyone, regardless if the child is comfortable with it or not.

“Forcing children to touch people when they don’t want to leaves them vulnerable to sexual abusers” said Hetter.

The idea of personal responsibility for one’s own body does not only go for children—it becomes more imperative as people grow older and begin to venture out on their own.

College is a time when students are leaving the safety of their homes and trekking into the unknown territory of the real world.  This life change increases the chances of students coming into contact with possible predators.

Between 20-25 percent of college women experience rape or attempted rape during their college career, and out of that percentage, 9 in 10 victims knew their offender. This means students ought to be coming to campus with their instincts already sharpened.  Students also must remain confident enough to speak up if they observe someone acting inappropriately or if they feel threatened.

The realization of how commonly sexual assault victims know their perpetrators does not have to be frightening—instead, it can give people a sense of power.  It is an opportunity to recognize the ability to protect oneself.

If certain situations, parties or people raise an “off” feeling, do not be afraid to take responsibility and be confident trusting in gut instincts.  Rather than going with the flow and ignoring intuition, students can remember that their bodies are their own.

The situations and people you choose to be around are within control.