Success Secrets for College-Bound Women: How to Prevent Sexual Assault
Sexual assault is a reality in today’s world. According to the The Campus Sexual Assault Study, one in five college women are victims of completed or attempted sexual assault while in college. College women and older women alike have to be vigilant to help to keep themselves safe.
Some steps in sexual assault prevention may seem like common sense, but it’s easy to forget or let them slide when you’re in a hurry or just not present. But no matter how busy or distracted you are, you need to ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings. Take a visual scan of the area before walking to your parked car, getting on an elevator or walking down a desolate street. Be fully present, free from headphones and cell phone- talking. Allow your senses to be alert. Check the back seat and underneath your car before getting in. Always carry your cell phone and a protective device like a whistle, mace, pepper spray- near your dominant hand, ready to be used.
Most important: Trust Your Intuition. Please know that your senses are impaired when you are high or drunk. Women have been gifted with a strong sense of intuition, yet often we are afraid or embarrassed to follow our gut. Often, we don’t want to seem “crazy” or like we are overreacting when we get a bad feeling about a stranger, or even someone we know, too close to one of us.
If your gut is giving you an uneasy feeling, trust it, and get away from the situation as quickly and safely as you can. It is better to be safe than sorry. I’m asking you to be aware, but not fearful. Fear is no fun and it can promote excess stress, but awareness can save your life.
It’s also important to remember that not all rapes are perpetrated by complete strangers. In fact, the majority are not. 90% of women know the person who sexually assaulted or raped them. Date rapes and rapes that occur at parties are common on college campuses. Again, this not about living in fear, this information should motivate you to be aware and take control of your own safety.
Whenever going out on a date, make sure someone else knows where you are going and when you should be home. Download an app for your phone like Circle of 6 that allows you to send a “911” message quickly when you get in a dangerous situation, or have a friend call you at a certain time to check in.
Never go to an isolated place with someone you don’t know very well. And never go along with a threatening persons commands to go to any other location. Not down a hall, not into a room, not into a car. Do whatever is necessary to get to a place where you can be seen and/or heard more easily.
Always have a sister when you go to a party. Keep an eye on one another during the night and make sure you leave together.
And when you are out at a party or club, be sure to never take your eyes off of your drink. Watch the bartender make it and keep it with you at all times. A recent report by the U.S. Department of Justice named drugged encounters as the leading cause of lack of self defense in sexual assaults. College-age women are also named a high risk group because of distractions, naiveté and aggressive stalking by perpetrators at clubs, bars and parties. Don’t let yourself or your friend become a statistic. DO NOT leave your drinks unattended.
Your safety is your responsibility and your right. Don’t be afraid to protect yourself in whatever ways present themselves to you at the time. Surviving and/or thriving, despite the bad intentions of others, is a success.
Which changes can you make in your life to help prevent the possibility of sexual assault?
Lacey C. Clark!, a Founder’s Scholar graduate of New York University is a speaker, and the author of Phenomenally U: A Young Woman’s Guide to Being Smart, Safe and Successful in College. She is available for small and large meetings, church events, academic speaking engagements and seminars. Please visit Lacey C. Clark!’s website at www.phenomenally-u.com or call (913) 735-3568 to book her for a speaking engagement or media event.