Strategies to Help Reduce Risks
There are things all of us can do to be as safe as possible. Here are some suggested strategies to help to reduce vulnerability to sexual violence, whether it be sexual assault, relationship abuse, or stalking.
To reduce the risk of sexual assault....
- Respond Assertively
Communicate any discomfort you feel with another person’s behavior. Don’t make excuses. Trust your instincts.
- Don’t isolate with someone you just met
Always have a safe way to get home. Don’t sleep over because you can’t get home. Especially don’t isolate with someone who tries to get too close, enjoys your discomfort or someone who doesn’t listen or respond when you say “NO”.
- Avoid drunk sex
Limit your alcohol consumption so that you can protect yourself, prevent aggressive behavior under the influence or help a friend who may need you.
- Believe in your right to set sexual limits for yourself
Learn how to communicate these limits and how to assert yourself by saying “NO” convincingly when you mean “NO” and “YES” when you mean “YES”.
- Believe in another person’s right to say “NO”
Be aware of the affect peer pressure has on your decision here. Remember it’s okay not to have sex. Accept that “NO” means “NO”.
- Date men/women who are your equal
Thinking you have more of a right to your desires can lead to date rape or dating abuse.
- Remember active consent is necessary every time you have sexual contact with someone. Don’t assume previous permission for sexual contact applies to the current situation (especially when a person is asleep or drunk).
- Don’t assume behavior is a signal for sex. Thinking someone wants sex is not the same as knowing for sure. Be sure. Communicate.
To reduce the risks and warning signs of abusive relationship:
- Listen to yourself if you are sensing "bad vibes", especially if you are feeling down on yourself or find yourself afraid in a relationship. Trust your instincts.
- Know that even one instance of physical, verbal or emotional violence is dating violence.
- Cruelty or physical violence to other people, animals or you, even if it happens just once, is a sure sign that more abuse is to come.
- Be alert to actions which reduce your personal independence and self control, such as urging you to give up existing friendships or family connections, telling you either what to wear, or what to say or who to hang out with.
- Be alert to signs of jealousy and/or possessiveness. These are signs of insecurity, not love.
- Seek assistance from professionals who can help you learn more about abusive relationships and to epxlore options that are available to you.
To reduce the risks of stalking:
- If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
- Do not ignore any threat. Report any instance of stalking to University Police, immediately. Trust your instincts.
- Keep evidence of any threat or instance of stalking. Keep a daily journal containing information on time,date and place of each instance, and keep it all in a safe and confidential place. Keep e-mails, phone messages, letters, and notes.
- Don't downplay a sense of danger by thinking "it will just go away". If you feel unsafe, you probably are. Stalking behavior typically does not just stop.
- Tell family, friends, roommates and co-workers about the stalking and seek their support.
- Limit the distribution of personal information, including home address and phone numbers, and be wary of any person who seeks to obtain too much personal information about you to quickly. Be careful about what you choose to post on public web services, such as "facebook". Fully shred all personal information before disposing of anything in the trash.
- Maintain quick access to critical telephone numbers and the location of safe places.
- Seek assistance from law enforcement and/or qualified professionals who can help you with safety strategies that are appropriate to your individual circumstance, including assistance with obtaining court issued orders of protection.