Often, tips for reducing sexual assault are taken as blaming the victim, or trying to control the victim rather than addressing the the people who actually assault others. The following tips are not intended this way, and are merely to help reduce the risk of being sexually assaulted because while we should be teaching people not to sexually assault others, tips can be helpful if you encounter someone who ignores this fact.
Although these tips are categorized, many of them can be used in other situations. Don’t overlook a tip for being specific to a situation!
Alcohol is the most commonly used date rape “drug.” If at all possible, try to have a friend with you to check in with periodically and make sure each other makes it home safely.
Don’t drink anything given to you open that is not directly from the bartender, especially if you didn’t see the bottle opened and poured.
Avoid the punch bowl at the party; it could be spiked.
Toss your drink if you walked away from it; it only takes 2 seconds to spike it.
Have a designated driver AND cab money, just in case.
Know the content of what you’re drinking.
Trust your gut. If you feel uncomfortable or think you may have been drugged or feel sudden changes in your body, get away and call 911.
Remember that often, alcohol takes a while to settle in and have effects. Know your limits so you don’t blow past them.
If someone is still hurting you…
Try to have at least one person you can call for support and who can respond to a crisis if needed.
Become familiar with safe spaces. Find some in your area here.
If they’re in your home long term and you can’t get away, sleep in public places if possible, lock your doors, or put some sort of noise maker on your door to scare them. If they don’t live with you, consider changing your locks and install some form of security such as motion detected lights.
If someone is monitoring your computer, try to use one somewhere else. If that’s not possible, consider regularly clearing your history or use private browsing methods. You can find out how to do all of this across browsers here.
Have a code word between you and your children or with your support network that means to get away or that you need help.
Have a few excuses ready for leaving the house at different times for situations that may become dangerous.
If someone is stalking you…
Consider telling someone. You don’t have to go through it alone. Call the local police to determine if a report can be made.
Try to always have your phone charged with programmed numbers, and even memorize a few reliable numbers in case you’re ever without your phone. Consider carrying quarters for pay phones!
Change your routine to throw off the stalker.
If you’re trying to leave the person hurting you…
Have a bag packed with important papers and documents, cash, keys and other vitals and hide it well. If someone finds it, say it’s a “hurricane” or “fire bag.”
Let your support network know what’s going on.
Know where you are going, especially if you don’t have someone you know that you can stay with.
Plan a route and make sure you can take that route (full gas tank, bus pass, etc.).
Pick a public place to meet up until you trust the person.
Don’t be afraid to look the person up, it can reveal a lot about them. Consider running their name through the National Sex Offender website.
Have an exit strategy in case things get ugly.
Tell someone about your plans and have them check in with you at certain checkpoints, and let them know what to do if you don’t check in.
Remember it’s okay to withhold personal information until you can trust them.
If you’re traveling long distance, consider skyping the person first or bring a friend along.
Feeling Safe After An Assault
Make use of the resources around you. College campuses often provide free services to students.
If you have to and are able to, move. If you’re on campus, you can usually ask to move dorms or change classes if that’s what will make you more comfortable.
Try to get a restraining order if this person has the ability to be near you.
Always have a plan.
Remind yourself this isn’t your fault, it is the attacker’s fault.
It’s okay to lie, especially to get yourself out of a sticky situation.
When you are out and about especially in risky places, mentally create an escape route, noting all possible exits including windows.
Know your resources such as where to go in certain situations and who to contact when you need help. You can find some helpful resources at MSU on our website here.
Stay alert and aware of your surroundings.
Make people earn your trust.
Be careful about posting your location on social media.
Be secure, remembering to lock your doors and windows, especially in the dorm.
You can find these and other tips including resources for parents and friends here.