August and September are known as back-to-school months. Casper College and the University of Wyoming begin next week, and Natrona County Public Schools start after Labor Day. While there can be a lot of excitement as well as some anxiety with the resuming of classes, there is also another, darker aspect of going back to school: dating violence.

Violence and Sexual Assault Statistics

Statistics indicate that dating violence is not uncommon. In fact, studies show young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence — almost triple the national average – and that nearly 1.5 million high school students are physically abused by a relationship partner every year. Other research indicates 43% of college women who actively date experience violent and abusive behaviors, and 16% of college women have been sexually abused in a dating relationship.

According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) 11.2% of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation (usually through the use of “date rape drugs”), but only 20% of female student victims, age 18-24, report such assaults to law enforcement.

Safety Precautions

There are many precautions a person can take to be safe this school year. Although there is no guarantee of safety (violence and sexual assault can happen to anyone at any time at any age), these tips can help.

  1. Be alert as to where you are and who is around you – whether you’re walking on campus (especially at night) or going to a party.
  2. Pay attention to your intuition – if you feel anxious or uneasy in a situation, there may be a reason and therefore, you may want to vacate the scene.
  3. Be cautious and smart online – don’t share a lot of personal information, or as RAINN states, “If you would not share the information with a stranger, then you shouldn’t share it online;” there are millions of strangers out there, and many live in your community.

Read RAINN’s other safety tips at

Find Help

If you’re experiencing dating violence or have been sexually assaulted, there are many organizations that can help. Speak to a law enforcement advocate, a counselor, or a person associated with a safe house in your community. In Casper, contact the Natrona County Sheriff’s Department Victims Services at 235-9298, the Self Help Center at 235-2894, or, if you’re a college student at Casper College, Campus Security at the Student Center, 268-2688 You can also call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) and/or the Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673).

If you think you might be pregnant from rape or sexual assault, contact True Care’s Scheduling Line by phone or text at 307-215-9684. We offer free, confidential pregnancy and STD testing, and provide relevant, factual information on pregnancy options.

Be safe this school year!