In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (and Creepy Tony), it’s time that we all learn a few ways to protect ourselves. Her Campus TCNJ comes to the rescue with tips from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (www.rain.org) (RAINN) and Alison Daks, sexual assault support services coordinator at Womanspace, Inc., to help you 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.
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, don’t 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.
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.
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.
Daks says it’s important for victims to know it is not their fault, and that by telling victims they need to protect themselves, we are ignoring the reasons why the perpetrator decided to act violently.
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 call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE or Mercer County’s Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault 24-hour Hotline at 609- 394-9000.