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Advocates say sexual assaults on college campuses are too common

About 25 percent of female college students have reported being victims of college sexual assault, according to the American Psychological Association.

HENNEPIN COUNTY, Minn. — After a 19-year-old man was charged with holding a Saint Catherine University student captive for three days and abusing her, an advocate is shedding light on how common campus sexual assaults are. 

About 25 percent of female college students have reported being victims of college sexual assault, that's according to the American Psychological Association

It's also the most prevalent campus crime, claiming 43 percent of total on-campus crimes, according to recent data. 

Ashley Taylor-Gouge is the associate director at the Sexual Violence Center, which provides free, confidential services for rape and sexual violence in Carver, Hennepin, and Scott Counties.

"I think it's a culture thing," said Taylor-Gouge. "We don't quite operate through a culture of consent right now. And we're not teaching young people how they should be treating each other."

According to the American Psychological Association, students are especially vulnerable during the "Red Zone." 

"You get folks who are maybe away from home for the first time, they might be a little bit more isolated than they normally have been," said Taylor-Gouge. "The Red Zone is the beginning of the semester until Thanksgiving break." 

Taylor-Gouge emphasizes that it is never the victim's fault, but there are ways to recognize a potentially unhealthy relationship. 

"It is one of the key steps in preventing sexual and domestic violence," said Taylor-Gouge. "Are they isolating you from your family and friends? Are they putting you in situations that make you feel uncomfortable and unsafe?  Is that person allowing you to go out with other people without getting upset? Is that person asking to go through all of your text messages? I think those are some of the biggest red flags."

Major universities in the state have resources and support for students experiencing sexual assault, including Saint Catherine. The school offers a report form on its website. 

We asked for an interview about its prevention efforts, but they instead provided a statement- listing counselors, therapists, and other healthcare providers available for support. That can be found here

The school also said security is on campus 24 hours a day. We asked about specific measures in dorm rooms and it declined to answer due to the ongoing investigation.

Taylor-Gouge said if you're ever unsure about your own relationships or a friends', reach out to organizations like the sexual violence center. 

Call Minnesota's Day One Crisis Line at 1-866-223-1111.

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