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A sexual assault advisory was issued to the University community after a female student said she was sexually assaulted on the UNC Charlotte campus, according to the UNC Charlotte Police Department.
The incident happened Wednesday around 5 p.m. in the firstfloor ladies restroom of the Fretwell Building, the advisory reports.
The victim told police that a man followed her into the restroom and sexually assaulted her. She told police she did not know the man, but described him as a white male in his mid twenties.
The incident has students we talked with on alert.
"No more night classes for me," said Elena Jones. "I just don't feel safe right now."
UNCC police told WBTV that officers canvassed the campus for two hours after the assault was reported. Officers are now patrolling the campus looking for any suspicious activity.
The victim also told police the man was between 5'10" and 5'11". He had dark hair, a medium build, and was wearing a grey hooded UNCC sweatshirt and grey sweat pants. The man, she said, also smelled of cigarette smoke.
While many students focus on the suspect, Charlotte author and speaker Wendy Blight is thinking about the victim.
"My heart just goes out," said Blight. "Because I remember what it's like. "I remember what it's like to live in that place of having just been raped."
Blight was assaulted in her apartment years ago, when she was just graduating from college. She remembers being in a dark place after the assault. She says she was only able to climb out of that place through faith in God. Now, she uses her experience to equip young women with knowledge to help them protect themselves. She says to remember the word "SAFE."
"S - avoid compromising Situations, A - be Aware of your surroundings, F - trust your Feelings, and E - avoid being an Easy target," said Blight.
Several UNCC students admitted they can be easy targets at times, especially when they're distracted by cell phones and iPods.
"We have to keep more on guard," said UNCC sophomore Norita Johnson. Another sophomore, Helen Hurley, said she plans to stop texting or talking on the phone when she walks through the campus at night.
Blight is glad students are already taking the incident to heart and taking steps to protect themselves, but she says sometimes assaults are unavoidable.
"Initially, women need to be ok knowing that it feels like everything's falling apart," said Blight. "It's ok to be fearful. It's ok to be afraid the person is going to come back. That's all natural."
She said her best advice is not to become isolated. She recommends sexual assault victims surround themselves with friends and family.
"For me, my faith played a big part in my healing process. Counseling can be very helpful and very important."
Blight also wants to remind rape victims that even though it goes against their instincts, it's important not to shower, change clothes, brush teeth, chew gum, smoke, or do anything that could destroy valuable evidence immediately after an assault. Instead, assault victims need to call the police and get an exam at the hospital. It's the best chance of putting their attackers behind bars.