One in four women will experience attempted or completed rape this year. 80% of these victims will be under the age of thirty. This could mean you. This is your best friend, your sister, maybe even your daughter that fits into this statistic range. The threat of rape is very real, but it can be even more so for college students. In a college setting sixty percent of college rapes, the victim is acquainted with his/her attacker; thirty-two percent are romantic partners, while only eight percent are total strangers. These statistics raise the question of how can we protect ourselves and others from becoming victims of rape.
1. Always Walk A Well-Lit Route
When walking anywhere at campus at night, stay in well-lit areas. Sometimes it can be tempting to cut across that dark quad or parking lot to make your walk home a little quicker, but in the interest of safety don't do it. Stick to the sidewalks and the main roads around your school in order to stay visible to bystanders. Also, try not to walk alone. Have a friend that you feel safe with and walk with them. There is safety in numbers when it comes to walking around an open area.
2. Trust Your Instincts
If you feel uncomfortable about something, trust yourself. Your gut and the vibes you get from people can give you a lot of insight into the situation that you're in. If you feel like the party/gathering you're at is not a safe place or the guy that's chatting you up is bad news, get out of there. Your intuition will keep you safer than talking yourself into being "okay".
3. If You See Something Sketchy, Step In
If you see someone that looks like they're about to take advantage of a situation or a friend is acting differently, step in and defend them. Tell them that you're taking them back home or that a friend is there to pick you guys up. The presence or interference of a bystander can make a rape 44% less likely to happen.
4. Do Not Take Drinks From Anyone
Whether this is as innocent as water or an alcoholic drink at a party, do not accept it. Always mix your own drinks and stay away from public drinking areas like punch bowls or anything else that could easily be drugged. This is the safest way to make sure that you have control over the situation at all times.
5. Remember That It's NOT Your Fault
If you are raped at any point in life, remember that it is never your fault. The way you dressed or what you consumed at a function is not the reason you were raped. You were raped because someone took advantage and overpowered you, not because your dress was a little shorter than usual or because you just have a flirty personality. No one should ever tell you it's your fault because you were "asking for it." No woman ever asks to be raped. So please - never feel guilty or afraid to report an attack if it happens. Justice is worth stepping forward for.
Just because college is a new place from home and there can be sketchy people doesn't mean you should live in fear of something like this happening to you. Every college has a police force that is only a phone call away and can help when a situation turns sketchy or if you notice something out of the ordinary. If you make smart decisions and keep these tips in mind when being out and about, you will be safer than if you ignored everything and pretended the world is full of great people. Because the reality is that our society sucks. Don't be afraid to make the smart decisions.