By: Heather Jabusch
One in four women will be sexually assaulted during their four years of college according to The Women’s Personal Safety Network. As a woman that lived on campus, I can remember being nervous on college grounds. Simple tasks like returning from a late night at the library or walking back to my dorm in the evening from the gym can increase your chances of becoming victim to an attacker. Campus can begin to feel like its own little private world, when you eat, sleep and live there every day. So, it is crucial that you remain aware of your surroundings at all times and are prepared for an assailant.
Just like a security system, the first objective is to deter. By this, I mean, walking with confidence and even giving off the suggestive vibe that you would be difficult to obtain. My roommate and I would go to classes during the day our separate ways, but then meet up for dinner and workouts at the gym together. This way, we were very rarely alone and could always account for each others whereabouts. Also, I always had mace on me, and the key, is to have it readily accessible. Men are generally stronger than women, thus the need for a weapon to assist you. What good does it do in your purse? I would twist the safety cap, and place my index finger over the spray button (hiding the bottle in my hand), and if anyone would have approached me, I would been ready to spray them away. Another great habit is to make slight eye contact with others around you. This not only helps you remember what people look like, but says “I see you.” This can lead to them picking someone who is less attentive.
The fact is, I can give you all the tips in the world, but if you are not mentally prepared to face an assailant, it will most likely turn out negatively. A great tool to remember that you always have is your voice. Scream for help as loud as you can and repeatedly. Also keep in mind, that if you are attacked this is one time when you do want to scream fire. Studies have shown more people respond to a call of “fire” than “help”. This alone, may cause the attacker to run for cover.
I previously taught Taekwondo (1st degree black belt) and I do believe that this played a huge role in my confidence level and assertiveness. I highly suggest that all women should take some type of self defense class that allows you to practice defending yourself and escaping an assailant. Remember to always walk in well-lit areas and if you feel like you are being followed, reroute to the closest public place. I would stop in a little store that was right beside my dorm, if I was worried about a follower.
College parties and sporting events on campus are in a more controlled atmosphere and most likely will not allow mace or any type of weapon. The Women’s Personal Safety Network says “62% of college rapes are committed by classmates and friends.” So again, being proactive is the answer. Do not accept open drinks from anyone, not even your “friends.” One pill can not only make you completely defenseless but inhibit you from knowing or remembering what is happening to you. This is scary, but statistics show that this is real. Part of growing up is being responsible for your actions/decisions. The trauma one would go through to recover from an incident of this nature is nothing to take lightly. Knowing this, I personally choose to make smart decisions, as I know I would never been the same if anything would happen to me.
For more safety tips check out Campus Safety and Emergency Preparedness and remember to program the emergency numbers for your campus on your cell phone.
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