It is never a victim’s fault when they experience violence, but there are a few things we can do to reduce our risk of experiencing violence.
There is nothing you could do that would make you responsible for sexual violence. The responsibility for sexual violence always lies with the perpetrator. However, recognizing potential risk factors can help you be empowered to make informed decisions about yours and others’ safety.
- Be especially careful in situations involving the use of drugs or alcohol. Drugs and alcohol can make you less aware of danger signs and less able to communicate clearly.
- Be responsible if you use alcohol or drugs, as they affect awareness and it is much more difficult to be in control of the situation when you are intoxicated. Know your drinking limits.
- Educating yourself about the components of consent and “healthy sexuality” is a crucial part of reducing your risk of experiencing sexual assault. Learn more about health sexuality.
Role of Friends
- Create a buddy system before you go out and help keep tabs on each other. Be aware of each other’s safety throughout the evening (where they are, who they are with, how they are going to get home, etc.).
- Leave parties with people you know and don’t leave a friend stranded without a safe way home. It can be dangerous to leave alone or with someone you don’t know very well.
- At parties where there is drinking or drugs, appoint a “designated sober person”–one friend who won’t drink and who will look out for the others in the group by regularly checking on them.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help or “make a scene” if you feel threatened. If you are being pressured or forced into sexual activity against your will, let the other person know how you feel and get out of the situation, even if it’s awkward and even if you embarrass the other person or hurt their feelings.
- If you have reason to believe that a friend or another person is being assaulted, call the police or Campus Security immediately and do what you can to get your friend and yourself out of that situation.
- Attend a free Green Dot Bystander Intervention Training on campus to gain the skills and confidence to intervene as a bystander: by directly confronting, distracting attention from, or delegating responsibility safely when faced with a potentially dangerous situation.
Reducing the Risk for Stranger Assault
- Stay in well-lit areas and avoid doorways, bushes, and alleys if at all possible.
- Walk confidently and assertively and know your surroundings. Perpetrators of sexual violence often look for people who appear vulnerable and passive.
- Be alert and prepared to run, fight, or scream.
- Wear clothes and shoes that give you freedom of movement.
- If you think you are being followed, walk quickly to areas where there are people.
- Carry your keys in your hand and be prepared to use them as a weapon.
- Do not go along with someone who demands you go with them, even if they have a weapon. Your chances of escaping unharmed are better where you are than anywhere they plan to take you.