ESPN’s Keri Potts on how to prevent sexual assault

Featured guest post by Keri Potts of ESPN.

Having just spent a weekend with a few dozen WWII-era men and women, I am recommitting myself to accepting less bullshit, as a general rule.

That means I’ve abandoned the page of notes I scratched out for this blog post where I broached the pressures of college life, the dangers of “group think” and my own struggles with finding a place to fit in amongst a culture of excess beer and sex.

Let me break this down for you. If you want to stop rape and sexual assault on our college campuses, look no further than alcohol and men. It’s that simple.

I don’t want to hear about freedom of choice. Or how it’s “not the alcohol, it’s the person drinking it” that leads to problems. I’m not interested in getting into the psychology of the college-aged male species, their mommy issues, feelings of inadequacy, emasculation concerns or how evolutionary traits are the root cause of their behavior. I don’t want to hear any of it because it’s complete bullshit.

The undeniable facts are these:

  • Across the board, more men are raping women than vice versa.
  • When alcohol is involved in a suspected rape or sexual assault case, it is always to the detriment of the victim. It is largely why only 6% of rapists see jail time. And that is 6% of rapists who are actually prosecuted – an abysmally low number – because alcohol is often involved.
  • Education programs for men and women are few and far between, and almost never mandatory. These courses focus almost exclusively on stranger rape which is a low percentage of rapes and assaults that occur.
  • Society views rape/sexual assault as a “woman problem” and focuses mostly on telling women how to be perfect – how to dress, how to behave, and how to avoid doing anything that might sully their reputations should they one day be raped and their sexual history be called into question.
  • College men get away with rape because the victim is too embarrassed to go public and too worried what her parents will think when they discover their daughter was drunk and/or intimate with a boy beyond kissing.
  • The college guys who do stand up for women and stand out as advocates of this topic are the exception and not the rule on college campuses. The majority of men are ambivalent.
  • I always wondered, especially in college, when or how someone would try to rape me. Isn’t that sad? Not if, but when. And many of my girlfriends think the same thing. As women, we are told that college is a particularly ripe time to be assaulted. The numbers prove it. While 1 in 6 women will be victims of sexual assault in their lifetime, 1 in 4 are victims during college. It’s a danger time for women and I know that because I saw it with my own eyes.

    I saw women singled out at parties because they were drunk and seemed an easier “get.” I saw my teammates and friends “go home” with strangers or almost strangers when both of them were drunk. I, myself, even experienced an attempt by someone I was dating to force me into something I was not comfortable with and boy did I smack him in the face. If he hadn’t backed down, I would have been in serious trouble because he outweighed me by 100+ pounds.

    Solution: Want to test how interested a campus is at protecting its female students? Ask it to do one or more of the following:

  • Establish a campus-wide escort service for co-eds who are too drunk or scared to walk alone late at night. Make it mandatory for fraternities AND sororities to staff the service and tie it into their philanthropic requirements. Publicize this program extensively.
  • Bring the message of how rape destroys lives straight to the dorms, the frat houses and the athletics teams. And I’m not talking about the expert, but the girl who is their age, who looks like them or looks like their sister, who can articulate exactly what rape feels like and how insidious a crime it is.
  • Require any alcohol company advertising on campus and in any neighboring bars to post signs about the percentages of rapes that go unreported or not prosecuted because the victim had been drinking. Consider these the alcohol version of those scary, creepy but effective anti-smoking ads.
  • Designate leaders from each male athletic team and fraternity because they are high-profile groups on campus to participate in year-long programs. And I’m not talking about the 4.0 bench warmer for the team who no one looks up to – I’m talking about your top guy. What could possibly be his excuse for not participating?
  • Don’t tell me these are too radical. These are steps ANY campus serious about protecting women from rape and sexual assault would gladly take.

    As for the ladies, the only direction I have for them is the following: Lift up the men who speak out against rape and who stand up for your right to personal sovereignty. Encourage them because those men are fully developed men – amazing men – at a time when so many aren’t. And what is sexier than that? Nothing.

    This featured guest post was authored by Keri Potts:

    Well, I am just a regular gal who would like to help and encourage others like me if ever they find themselves the victim of sexual assault. My name is Keri Potts and I had my story about my escape from attempted rape published in the December 2010 issue of Marie Claire, followed by an interview with USA Today. It outlined the assault I endured by an Italian citizen and the weeks and months after where I pressed charges which resulted in my attacker plea bargaining. It was a tough two years of my life trying to understand the ins and outs of the Italian judicial system and criminal procedure. I would really like to help expand the body of knowledge about overseas prosecution of sexual assault by finding others who have done so.

    I love my family, Jesus, college sports, autumn, long and vigorous walks, morning coffee, good friends, great conversations, wit and people who don’t bend to the prevailing opinion. I especially like people who fight to do the right thing even when it’s hard, drawn out and difficult to succeed.

    You can reach me at


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