In light of recent events, Her Campus is here to share the best ways to keep you and your friends safe this year. It’s difficult to keep from freaking out after the college’s numerous e-mails, each one making campus feel less safe, so heed this advice from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network and Alison Daks, sexual assault support services coordinator at Womanspace, Inc. to stay safe on and off campus.
1. Be aware. This means you shouldn’t be texting, playing a game, or even talking on the phone while you’re walking, especially if you are alone. You should, however, keep your cell phone handy, switched on and fully charged in case of emergency. Also, take note of who and what is around you.
2. Don’t listen to music. Walking around with both ear buds in makes you extremely vulnerable and unaware of your surroundings. If you really want to listen to music, just wear one ear bud and make sure you stay aware.
3. Walk with purpose. Even if you don’t know where you’re going, act like you do. If you’re walking back to your dorm or your house, try not to dawdle.
4. Don’t carry too much stuff. The more bags, posters, and stuff you have, the more vulnerable you appear. Take multiple trips to your car or ask a friend to help you so you’re not lugging items around.
5. Avoid isolation. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you are alone with someone you don’t know or someone you don’t trust. This includes taking a ride home alone with a stranger or even walking home with a stranger. If you feel uncomfortable, you should remove yourself from the situation.
Advice from Alison Daks:
Daks says that college women are more likely to become victims of sexual assault because they are away from home for the first time. This goes both ways: perpetrators might act inappropriately with this new freedom and potential victims might let their guard down. She says the majority of victims know their perpetrators so it is important to recognize signs, especially in social situations, like parties.
Make sure you use common sense and the buddy system when you can, especially at night. We all know the parking garages can be a little scary, so ask a friend to take the walk with you, or at least let her know you’ll be back in a few minutes.
If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, please visit the Office of Anti-Violence Initiatives in Holman 307 or call the office at (609) 771-2272. You can also call Mercer County’s Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault 24-hour Hotline at 609- 394-9000.