11 Subtle Signs of Sexual Assault That Every College Student Should Look For In Their Friends
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Of course, we all hope that we will never personally witness the pain that comes with sexual violence, but it is important nonetheless to know the warning signs that an assault may have occurred. We need to have enough knowledge about sexual assault survivors to be able to tell that something isn't quite right with friend's behavior, attitude, or even their appearance. To protect them as well as ourselves, it's critical that we know and understand how a survivor may act in the aftermath of such a horrific event.

With that being said, here are a few of the red flags that could be present in the life of someone who has been sexually assaulted:

1. They are experiencing unexplained depression and anxiety symptoms

As of lately, you've noticed that your friend has not been acting like themselves. They may be exhibiting signs of depression such as extreme sadness, hopelessness, chronic fatigue, and changes in their sleep patterns and appetite. Or they might be uncharacteristically anxious, worrying excessively, having regular panic episodes, or being easily startled. If unaddressed, these feelings and behaviors can worsen and prevent the individual from healing from the assault later on. Whether they are having a post-traumatic response or have just been struggling with their mental health, they need your friendship now more than ever.

2. They're being treated for an STI—and they're single, safe, or in a committed relationship

Your friend has always been incredibly cautious with their sexual partners, so it strikes you as odd when they admit that they've been receiving treatment for a sexually transmitted infection. What's more is this person is single, prioritizes their sexual health, or has been in a committed monogamous relationship for quite some time with a faithful partner. With that being said, if their STI-positive status is completely out-of-character, it's possible that they were forced to be unsafe with someone against their will.

3. They engage in reckless drug and alcohol use

This person went from being strait-laced and sober to erratic and preoccupied with drugs and alcohol. They've started binge-drinking or using drugs recreationally, affiliating with a new crowd of friends who encourage them to let loose and let go of their inhibitions. If your friend is a survivor of sexual assault, it's possible that they adopted these new behaviors to distract themselves from thinking about what happened to them. Being drunk and/or high takes away from the sharpness of their emotions, but it also poses some serious threats to their physical health.

4. They make an effort to avoid certain places or situations

Once eager to go out on the town, your friend is suddenly more reluctant than ever— especially when it comes to specific places or events. They might be fearful of a party because it's taking place at a particular house, of a dimly lit street corner or road, of an alleyway, or of any other location that may be where an assault has taken place. Maybe they once jumped at the opportunity to go out to their favorite bar, but they suddenly want to avoid going there at all costs. If your friend seems to be very nervous or on edge when you pass by or even talk about visiting this place, there may be something more to the situation that justifies their fears

5. They isolate themselves from friends and loved ones

Someone who has survived sexual assault is inundated with a lot of emotions that they may want to process in private. When asked if something is wrong, they might dismiss it and assure you that they're okay, but how they've been acting seems to suggest otherwise. Your friend spends a lot more time alone and often turns down offers to hang out. They leave text messages and calls unanswered and may even get defensive if their privacy is infringed upon. Their withdrawal from the people who care about them isn't intentional, but could instead be their way of coping with what happened to them without having to reveal the details of the assault.

6. Their grades are dropping and they routinely skip class and work

Your friend is usually a dedicated student and a hard worker, but they now appear to be moving in a downward spiral. They are skipping classes regularly and missing their shifts at work and their grades are dropping drastically. Anyone who has experienced any kind of trauma is likely to lose focus on their daily routine. The lack of focus may come off as a newfound indifference, or it could be a telltale sign that this individual has undergone a traumatic experience.

7. They show signs of physical abuse (bruises, black eyes, etc.)

Depending on the nature of the assault, survivors can sustain a multitude of injuries that suggest that they were physically harmed. Bruises, cuts, scrapes, scratches, black eyes, and even broken or dislocated bones may result from a bodily attack. In addition, the individual may also suffer from more intimate injuries that could point more directly to sexual assault, including rectal or vaginal tearing and subsequent bleeding. While physical signs of injury alone cannot prove that a sexual assault has taken place, if you feel that your friend has been hurt in a way that was not accidental, it is possible that they were a victim of sexual violence.

8. They admit that they haven't been sleeping well (or at all) recently

It's common for a sexual assault survivor to not sleep well in the aftermath of their attack. They may experience difficulty falling or staying asleep or they may have recurring nightmares that could echo what happened to them when they were assaulted. If your friend confesses that they have been having a hard time sleeping and subsequently feel exhausted all the time, there may be something going on that's a bit more than typical college stress.

9. They are exhibiting post-traumatic symptoms

Sexual assault survivors can exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the immediate wake of the assault or even months or years after it has taken place. The events that unfolded were too much for the survivor to process all at once, so the emotions are embedded deep in their brains and surface every so often in sharp, unpleasant doses. Triggers in the person's environment, including but not limited to sights, sounds, their assailant's voice, images, videos, and sexual language, can evoke a panicked response in the survivor as they appear to relive the trauma all over again. Your friend may be suffering from PTSD related to sexual assault if they have recently started to startle easily or show signs of panic and distress.

10. They appear uncomfortable with even friendly physical contact

After being physically violated by another person, the survivor will likely find it very difficult to feel comfortable in close proximity with others. They may shy away from the touches of even their closest friends and loved ones and they may especially be opposed to romantic contact of any kind. After being so seriously harmed, they want to regain control over their bodies and remain untouched in their effort to stay safe. Even a good-natured touch could startle or unsettle them, for they are trying to remember what it felt like to be unafraid of physical contact.

11. They seem to have developed a very hateful self-image

In the wake of surviving a sexual assault, the person may feel cheap, used, dirty, and disgusting. Their body was violated and their boundaries were crossed, leaving them at their most vulnerable in front of someone who chose to abuse them to demonstrate their power. Survivors often develop a cruel self-image as a result, calling themselves ugly or openly stating that no one will ever want to love them or date them. They might feel that their abuser could not even respect them, so they do not deserve respect themselves. If your once body-positive, self-loving friend has started to view themselves in a darker, more critical light, it's possible that something happened to make them feel less than worthy of love and respect.

If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, you can visit the following websites for guidance on how to begin the healing process. Know always that you are never alone and that there are so many people who will always be willing to help you get through this. You will win this fight.





Sexual assaut resources for college students:

lRAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network)

RAINN's National Sexual Assault Online Hotline (or call at 800-656-4673)

United States Department of Justice

Office of Women's Health: Relationships and Safety

National Domestic Violence Hotline

End Rape On Campus

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I Am A Hopeless Romantic Living In A World Where One-Night Stands Are The Norm

It's the little things.

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In today's society, it can certainly start to feel like no one takes love seriously anymore.

Whether it's that one couple who has broken up and gotten back together more times than you can count, the two friends-with-benefits no one can figure out, your local womanizer, or just hookups in general, love and lust are a huge part of specifically college life and culture.

As a hopeless romantic, being part of a generation that "just wants to have fun" can be really frustrating, especially when you just want to find something real. It is so easy for people to put on a fake act just to get what they want and sometimes this can be extremely hard to see through. I'm sure we've all had some kind of incident with someone who played nice but had ulterior motives and the sad truth is that it can be impossible to recognize a person's artificiality.

I am a hopeless romantic.

I have always classified myself as such, and it has remained true. Sure, I can make the most of the freedoms I have as a single college woman, but deep down I just want to find my person.

I've had my fair share of letdowns, and I think we all have, but being a hopeless romantic makes it that much more difficult to get past the "what ifs" and fantasies that come along with starting something with someone new. We may already have our hearts set on a person when they decide they've gotten what they wanted and leave.

For me, I find myself caught up in the little things that someone does. I have always been someone who picks up on small details in situations, and sometimes this works against me.

I pick up on the small facial expressions that he may not even realize he is making; the ones that tell you when their guard has been let down, even just for a split second.

I pick up on the way he sits our two cellphones side by side on the nightstand, taking care to line them up perfectly as if that's just their spot.

I pick up on the short moments of laughter where he actually lets himself laugh and forgets about the act.

I pick up on things, and sometimes I end up hurting because of it.

When it comes down to it, though, I wouldn't change the way that I am. I wouldn't change the fact that I find myself in the search for more in a society that mostly only offers me less.

The trait that tends to hurt me most is also the one that I value most. Even if noticing all the little things is something that contributes to my own heartache, I love those moments. There is something beautiful about those tiny things shared by two people, even if the connection ends there.

Sure, it can be hard. But so can everything.

It's just a matter of finding the beauty.

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5 Movie Sex Scenes That Would Never Go Down Like That In Real Life

There's a lot of time, scripts, makeup, and lights that are involved in these scenes that make them what they are, unlike the sex that happens in real life.

Dr King
Dr King
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When I was a child, my idea of sex was confined to what I saw in the media — two people rolling around underneath the sheets of their bed. I didn't understand what was going on at the time until my parents had the birds and the bees talk with me, but still, sex was not something that was discussed regularly in any setting so I couldn't help but use the movies and television as my main source for sex education. When I was a teenager, I started watching rom-coms so my idea of sex expanded to a scenario where two people who loved each other effortlessly fall into a euphoric experience and then they live happily ever after.

Then something about the idea I had changed as I watched the series premiere of "Secret Life of the American Teenager," a popular teen drama from ABC family about a girl who struggles with being a mother in high school. One of the first and most memorable scenes of the show is when Amy Juergens talks to her best friends about what it was like to have sex for the first time. Her friends were ecstatic for her at first until she revealed her dismay, telling them "I didn't exactly realize what was happening until, like, after two seconds, and then it was just over. And it wasn't fun and definitely not like what you see in the movies, you know, all romantic and stuff."

I heard those words and was immediately taken aback. As a 13-year-old, sex wasn't on my mind much, but I couldn't help but hope that I could experience the magic I saw on screen. Then eight years later I have sex for the first time and I realized that what she said was right...not about the part about it not being fun, but more-so about the part that sex is not actually like what is depicted in the movies.

Here are five examples in movies that created unrealistic sex scenes for its viewers:

1. "Skyfall"



This steamy scene between Bond and Severine make shower sex look passionate and trouble-free, but do its expectations match reality? No. What they don't show you is the sting from the water getting into your eyes, the awkward positions your bodies have to accommodate with if there's a significant height difference between you and your partner and the fact that water is a terrible substitute for lube because it strips away the natural lubrication your genitals produce.

2. "No Strings Attached"



Sometimes there are those moments when you want to have sex, but you don't have that much time on your hands so you have to fit in a quick session before work in the morning, in between classes, or right before the kids come back home. Though Natalie Portman's "O" face is spot on, the main thing that makes her quickie with Ashton Kutcher's unrealistic is that she still manages to climax after 45 seconds without any kind of foreplay, lube, or toys involved. The female orgasm is still possible during a quickie, but in real life, there will still have to be creative measures involved so that enough stimulation outside of penetration is involved to get her warmed up.

3. "Fifty Shades of Grey"



As much as I enjoyed the playfulness behind Ana and Christian dipping ice cream on each other's bodies and licking it off each other, I couldn't help but roll my eyes at how over exaggerated it became. Yes, I understand that when something feels good, a moan or some type of vocalization will happen, but getting some kisses and licks on your thighs isn't going to have you arching your back like a demon going through an exorcism.

4. "Mr. & Mrs. Smith"



Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's chemistry and passion in this scene is undeniable and it almost makes you want to start a fight with your partner just so you two can have some hot, angry sex just like them. Here's the problem though. They go from nearly killing each other to being boo'ed up like nothing happened. While angry sex can be a way for some couples to express emotions through adrenaline, it isn't the answer to our problems and shouldn't be a substitute for healthy communication.

5. "Titantic"



The moment in the movie when Kate Winslet's hand slams against the door of the car and drifts down as we stare at her steamy handprint and secretly wish we were sleeping with Leonardo DiCaprio will always be a classic. However, this scene is still a scam for those who hope car sex is as passionate and heartfelt as that. Truth be told, there's limited space to feel comfortable so leg cramps are inevitable and sliding against leather feels awful on your skin. To top things off, if you aren't careful enough, you may get caught by the police and ultimately have to register as a sex offender depending on your state's laws.

I truly hope for the day that sex in the media is represented in more of a realistic way, but until then, we just have to remember to take movies for what they are. Acting. There's a lot of time, scripts, makeup, and lights that are involved in these scenes that make them what they are, unlike the sex that happens in real life. As a matter of fact, sometimes sex isn't romantic. Sometimes it's not a fairy tale. There are times when it can be mind-blowing and other times when it's awkward, funny, or simply not what we expect. Do I appreciate fictional sex? Of course. But mainstream entertainment should also take the time to show us more than the sex we supposedly fantasize about and also show us sex that we can look at and see ourselves.

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