Public schools in Natrona County as well as Casper College and UW-Casper are back in full swing. With the dawn of a new year and a new semester come new opportunities – different classes, new friends, and important decisions. January is also a time many people set new goals and make resolutions. A great goal for this New Year is to make a safety plan. You may not be able to prevent all disasters and problems, but there are some steps you can take to minimize risks.
For Your Safety
Safety comes in many forms, from the decision to fasten your seat belt when you drive as well as not texting and not being under the influence of alcohol or drugs when behind the wheel. Another way to stay safe is to wait to have sex until you’re married – abstinence is the only sure-fire way to not become pregnant or get an STD (sexually transmitted disease). If you have already been sexually active, it’s never too late to get tested for STDs. Did you know Natrona County ranks highest for cases of chlamydia in Wyoming, according to KnowWyo.com? If left untreated, chlamydia can cause infertility. You can make healthier sexual choices for your future today.
Another safety issue involving sex, pregnancy, and STDs, as well as violence, is sexual assault. Casper may be a somewhat small town, but our community is not immune. In 2017, 38 adults were admitted to the emergency room of Wyoming Medical Center due to sexual assault; 19 admissions were recorded in 2016. Last year, ER staff saw the highest number of adult sexual assaults within the past five years. Are there more such cases or has there been an increased number of those who report? We don’t know because rape and sexual assault is often NOT reported.
Tips for Staying Safe from Sexual Assault
According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), only about one-third of sexual assaults are reported to police. The organization also conveys that one out of six American women have been a victim of attempted or completed rape. The majority of times, a person is at home when assaulted (48%) or traveling, including in their community (29%); others were working (12%) or going to school (7%). Although there is no guarantee of safety, there are precautions a person can take to be help keep themselves safe from sexual assault. Here are a few:
- Stay alert when walking around campus or downtown and try to avoid dark or shadowed areas, such as alleys and covered parking garages.
- Lock doors when you sleep or leave the room.
- Protect your drink when going to a party or bar. Date rape drugs can be easily slipped into unattended drinks.
- Don’t stay in a situation that makes you uncomfortable – trust your instincts and take your leave from that situation (or person).
- Watch out for your friends. If you go to a party together (always a good idea!), check on each other and if you sense a friend is stressed or trying to vacate a situation, help that friend out and get out.
RAINN provides many other safety suggestions; read them here: https://www.rainn.org/safety-prevention.
Help Available in Our Community
About every 98 seconds, someone in the U.S. experiences sexual assault. True Care has walked alongside women in our community who have experienced such a crime. We provide pregnancy testing, ultrasound, and limited STD testing and treatment, all at no charge. We also can put you in touch with resources, such as the Self Help Center which can provide advocates who understand the situation and offer counseling as well as other resources. SANE nurses at Wyoming Medical Center can perform an exam after the assault has occurred, and they also contact a Self Help advocate for you. If you desire to press charges against the perpetrator (NOT required if you’re an adult), or you simply want to talk with someone from law enforcement, you can speak with Casper Police Department Victim Services or Natrona County Sheriff’s Office Victim & Witness Services. You are not alone.
True Care has been part of the Casper community for more than 30 years; we care about women, their health, their safety, their concerns, and situations. Resolve to be safe this year, and know we are here for you if you experience an unplanned pregnancy. Contact our Scheduling Line by calling or texting 307-215-9684 to set up your free appointment.