Sexual assault is a devastating crime that affects hundreds of thousands of individuals every year in the United States. Rape can occur anywhere at anytime. While in some cases nothing can be done to prevent a crime, there are some strategies you can adopt to reduce the chance of being victimized.
As a female college student, there have been several occasions in which these tips really helped keep me safe on campus (and off!). I do want to point out, that men are often the victims of rape as well, so take heed! Here are a list of well-documented tips that have been proven to keep you safer.
8 Strategies for Avoiding Sexual Assault
1 When in public, walk with purpose and be aware of your surroundings
Predators look for women who are distracted and easy to grab. Therefore girls who are glued to their cellphone screens, wearing headphones, or looking at the ground instead of their surroundings are prime targets.
Additionally, potential predators don’t want to try to snatch a victim who looks like she’s going to put up a fight. Convicted rapists have revealed in interviews that if a woman looks like she has somewhere to be and is walking with confidence, she often appears to be more trouble than she’s worth.
Try to look confident by walking briskly, not having your shoulders slouched, and keeping your head upright. Make deliberate eye contact with anyone that seems “off” to you.
2 Be careful of who you party with
The majority of rapes are perpetrating by someone who is familiar to victim. Remember that just because you have met someone before doesn’t mean that you should put your guard down.
Consuming alcohol also increases the chances that a crime will occur. According to West Virginia University, alcohol is involved in 75% of all reported rapes on campus.
Alcoholic drinks can reduce inhibitions and allow you to enter unsafe situations that you would have avoided sober. Also, having an exposed drink container like a red solo cup or being served beverages of any nature by someone out of sight puts you at risk of getting sedated with a date-rape drug such as GHB.
If you must use the restroom, as a trusted friend to watch your drink, or take it with you so it doesn’t leave your site. If something tastes strange or you see a strange powder in your drink, throw it out right away and be on high alert.
The main symptom of GHB poisoning is suddenly feeling tired, so if you start getting sleepy after only one drink, alert your friends that you need to be escorted from the party.
3 Avoid being alone
Although the image of being snatched off the street is popular in our media, most rapists rely on getting their victims alone by other means and are always looking for an opportunity.
If you’re at a social gathering like a party or any other unfamiliar environment, do not let a man isolate you from the group. Avoid taking short cuts that go through remote stretches when walking and try to stay on a lit path at night.
4 Utilize the “Buddy System”
A great way to avoid being vulnerable is to use the buddy system. If you’re meeting someone for the first time, such as from an online dating site, have a friend or family member on standby to text throughout the date to let them know that you’re alright.
Always let people know where you’re going to be so if you fail to check in they can send help or look for you. When possible, try not to go places such as a male’s house alone. If you’re invited to a party or hang out, ask if you can bring a friend.
5 Keep your doors and windows locked
This tip applies to the windows and doors in your house, but also in your car. It is possible for an armed man to more easily carjack you when your vehicle is stopped if your doors are unlocked. Once inside, he can force you to go to any destination of his choosing.
6 If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, do anything to escape
Sometimes it can be difficult to be rude, even if there is an impending threat. Do not be afraid to do anything to escape an unsafe situation. Don’t feel bad about lying, screaming for help, or attempting to scare off a man.
Even if your instincts are wrong, you don’t want to risk finding out you were right. Suffering through an attack is always going to be worse than trying to avoid an awkward scene.
Additionally, don’t be too shy to say “no”. It can be hard to turn down a man who displays interest in you for fear of retaliation, but giving a guy mixed messages can fuel a potentially dangerous situation. Women who refuse attention clearly appear more confident as well, and can be intimidating for rapists.
7 Your house is no safer than his at the end of the date.
Rape is just as likely to happen in your apartment, house, or room as it is at the assailant’s place. In our culture a woman “going home with a guy” indicates that she is going to have sex with him.
Some women attempt to avoid this situation but still spend time with a date by inviting them back to their own place. As with Tip 3, many rapists are already known to the victim and are simply waiting for the opportunity to get her alone. Don’t let someone into your house until you know you can trust them.
8 Your instincts are usually correct
If something doesn’t feel right, then there’s usually something wrong. Your mind can detect danger on a subconscious level without alerting you to exactly what it is. When a situation seems bad but you can’t quite place what is wrong with it, that’s your mind’s way of warning you there’s a potential threat. Be on your guard and look for any suspicious behavior. If possible, leave.
Unfortunately, sometimes the best strategy for a woman to avoid an attack is to simply be cautious around men. Most rapes are perpetrated by a someone who is known to the victim, so it’s important to remember that even if you feel like you can trust someone, they could still be a threat.
However, it is also important to not live in constant anxiety by fretting about what might be inevitable. If you always remain aware and practice precautions such as those included in this list, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about. You are already doing everything you can to preserve your safety.
I’d love to hear other tips and ideas you have for staying safe, please feel free to share them below!