Strategies to Help Avoid Sexual Assault and Rape

Rape victims of Africa
Rape victims of Africa
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Assertive Behavior

  • Awareness and assertive behavior may be your best defense against becoming an “easy target.”
  • Hold your head up; walk confidently, directly and at a steady pace.
  • If you feel you are in danger of being attacked try to escape the situation by running away from it if you can.
  • Try in any way you can to attract attention to yourself. Screaming “Call 911” or “Fire” is a good way to accomplish this.
  • If you are being followed, head for a well lit area where you think there will be other people who may be able to help you.
  • Stay alert and aware. Know where the exits are if you are in a building. In crowded places such as nightclubs, always let someone know where you will be. Do not go to isolated places in a building, if you must go, take a friend. Always turn around and look at whoever may be behind you.
  • If you walk or jog for exercise, try to vary your route and time on the street. To be predictable is risky.
  • Take a self-defense course.
  • Trust your “gut instincts.” If a person, place or situation makes you uneasy, leave or change it immediately.
  • Use the emergency call boxes on campus. If you are on campus and do not have access to a phone, locate the “emergency call box” on campus to contact University Police whenever you feel unsafe.
  • If you are in an emergency situation and have access to a telephone, contact University Police at 4911 or local law enforcement at 911.
  • Report any suspicious activity or persons on campus and/or off campus to the proper authorities immediately. Report any situation that is unsafe such as insufficient lighting, high bushes, broken locks and propped doors.
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Safety Tips – In Your Car

  • Always make sure you lock your car doors, whether or not you are in the car. Always check the floor and rear seat before getting into your car.
  • When returning to your car, make sure your keys are in your hand, ready for use in unlocking the door and turning on the ignition. They can also be used as a weapon, should that become necessary.
  • If you suspect that you are being followed while driving, keep on going — do not stop and pullover until you get to some place that is well lit and where there are other people to assist you. If possible, drive to the nearest police station to let them know you are being followed.
  • Avoid parking lots and garages that are poorly lit. Do not walk to and from your parked car alone if it is at night. Ask a group to walk together to the cars.
  • If your car should break down, raise the hood and remain in the car with the doors locked until the police arrive. If you have a cell phone, call someone for help or call 911. If someone should stop and offer to assist you, roll down the window just enough to tell them they can call the police for you.

Safety Tips – At Home

  • Have good locks (dead bolts are best) installed on all doors and be sure to use them. Make sure all windows are locked and well secured.
  • Be sure you know whom you are opening your door to. If a sales or repair person is legitimate, they will not mind your asking to see identification and confirming their identity with the company they represent.
  • Residence hall staff and/or university employees will not mind identifying themselves when they knock on your door.
  • If a stranger comes to your door requesting assistance (e.g. to make a phone call, car trouble, etc) offer to call the necessary people for him/her. Do not make yourself vulnerable by opening your door to a stranger, especially if you live by yourself or are at home alone.
  • For women who live by themselves in a house or apartment, never advertise the fact by listing your full name in the phone book or on a mailbox. Use instead your first two initials, or even add another name.
  • Be cautious about revealing any personal information over the telephone and/or Internet.
  • Draw your curtains or blinds shut at night so people on the outside cannot determine who is in the residence.
  • Do not hide a spare key in obvious places such as under the mat, in a potted plant, in a fake rock or on the doorsill, etc. Residence hall students should keep their room keys in their possession at all times. Do not leave door keys hanging in locks or laying out in plain view of others. Always lock your doors after you enter your residence hall room/house/apartment and also when you leave.
  • Talk to roommates about the importance of everyone following the safety strategies at all times.
  • Do not prop open any doors to a residence hall, house or apartment building at any time.
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Safety Tips – Dating

  • Know your sexual limits. What you want is critical, and you need to know what that is. Be assertive about your limits. You have the right to say “no.”
  • Communicate your desires. Communication leads to stronger and more fulfilling relationships.
  • Avoid being alone in isolated locations. If someone is leading you toward a secluded area, try to get away as quickly as possible.
  • Rape can occur when one or both individuals are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Set limits on alcohol consumption.
  • Be aware of “Date Rape” drugs. The drugs (Rohypnol, GHB) are odorless and tasteless and can be easily slipped into soft drinks, juices or alcoholic drinks undetected. Do not leave your beverage unattended or accept something to drink from someone you do not know well and trust.
  • Attend large parties with friends you can trust. Agree to “look out” for one another. Try to leave with your group, rather than alone or with someone you don’t know very well.
  • Don’t be afraid to “make waves” or hurt someone’s feelings if you feel they are threatening to you. Better a few minutes of social awkwardness or embarrassment than the trauma of sexual assault.

Following these tips and strategies does not guarantee that a sexual assault will not occur. They are offered as strategies to reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim.

(source: majority of the strategies have been provided by Karen J. Wilson, Ed.D, Trainer and Consultant, 2003. Additional strategies/tips have been provided by the Women’s Resource and Services Office,

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Source: Nicholls State University.

Rape victims of Africa
Rape victims of Africa

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