Jackson: Watch your drink, don’t get spiked | SummitDaily.com

Jackson: Watch your drink, don’t get spiked

SUMMIT COUNTY – Since April is sexual assault awareness month, a local nonprofit – Advocates for Victims of Assault – has launched a new safety campaign: “Who’s watching your drink?”

Advocates executive director Amy Jackson said flyers warning young woman to stay mindful of their beverages while socializing at local bars are posted throughout Summit County.

“For the most part, we’re just trying to raise awareness for the issue (of getting drugged),” she said. “We want to get the message of drink safety out to young women who could be targets. Watch out for your friends.”

To prevent “getting spiked,” the campaign stresses that women should never leave their drinks unattended while dancing, using the bathroom or talking. They should always watch their drink from the time the bartender starts pouring it to any time it’s not in their hands. Women should also work hard to keep an eye on their friends, so it’s noticed if anyone is acting our of character.

According to Jackson, Advocates staff on average helps 30 victims of sex assault locally in any given year. The majority of those women were assaulted after drink tampering or getting too intoxicated from alcohol, she said.

It was also noted that sex assault is the most under-reported crime that happens anywhere.

“We’re maybe seeing only 20 percent of all sexual assaults happening out there,” she said. “Statistically one of four women are victims of sex assault in their lifetime. It’s a major public health issue.”

Jackson added that she wants to raise awareness about what consent means.

“If a person is too intoxicated to know what’s going on, they can’t give consent,” she said. “We really believe that there’s no behavior for which rape is a logical consequence. Even if somebody drank way too much, even if somebody willingly took some type of drug and was sexually assaulted, that doesn’t make it OK.”

Advocates for Victims of Assault staff plan to educate locals and campaign about sexual assault throughout the month of April. Even so, this is a year-round issue and women should always be aware of their surroundings and their safety.

“We can really help a victim understand what her choices are and walk her through that process, from knowing that she doesn’t have to make a formal report to law enforcement, to making a report,” Jackson said. “If she does chose to do that, we will help her with that process.”

For more information about services offered by Advocates for Victims of Assault, visit http://www.summitadvocates.org or call (970) 668-3906.

Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at crow@summitdaiy.com.

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