The following tips from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network may reduce your risk for many different types of crimes, including sexual violence.
- Know your resources. Who should you contact if you or a friend needs help? Where should you go? Locate resources such as the campus health center, campus police station, and a local sexual assault service provider. Notice where emergency phones are located on campus, and program the campus security number into your cell phone for easy access.
- Stay alert. When you're moving around on campus or in the surrounding neighborhood, be aware of your surroundings. Consider inviting a friend to join you or asking campus security for an escort. If you're alone, only use headphones in one ear to stay aware of your surroundings.
- Be careful about posting your location. Many social media sites, like Facebook and Foursquare, use geolocation to publicly share your location. Consider disabling this function and reviewing other social media settings.
- Make others earn your trust. A college environment can foster a false sense of security. They may feel like fast friends, but give people time earn your trust before relying on them.
- Think about Plan B. Spend some time thinking about back-up plans for potentially sticky situations. If your phone dies, do you have a few numbers memorized to get help? Do you have emergency cash in case you can't use a credit card? Do you have the address to your dorm or college memorized? If you drive, is there a spare key hidden, gas in your car, and a set of jumper cables?
- Be secure. Lock your door and windows when you're asleep and when you leave the room. If people constantly prop open the main door to the dorm or apartment, tell security or a trusted authority figure.
Safety in social settings
It's possible to relax and have a good time while still making safety a priority. Consider these tips for staying safe and looking out for your friends in social settings.
- Make a plan. If you're going to a party, go with people you trust. Agree to watch out for each other and plan to leave together. If your plans change, make sure to touch base with the other people in your group. Don't leave someone stranded in an unfamiliar or unsafe situation.
- Protect your drink. Don't leave your drink unattended, and watch out for your friends' drinks if you can. If you go to the bathroom or step outside, take the drink with you or toss it out. Drink from unopened containers or drinks you watched being made and poured. It's not always possible to know if something has been added to someone's drink. In drug-facilitated sexual assault, a perpetrator could use a substance that has no color, taste, or odor.
- Know your limits. Keep track of how many drinks you've had, and be aware of your friends' behavior. If one of you feels extremely tired or more drunk than you should, you may have been drugged. Leave the party or situation and find help immediately.
- It's okay to lie. If you want to exit a situation immediately and are concerned about frightening or upsetting someone, it's okay to lie. You are never obligated to remain in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, pressured, or threatened. You can also lie to help a friend leave a situation that you think may be dangerous. Some excuses you could use are needing to take care of another friend or family member, an urgent phone call, not feeling well, and having to be somewhere else by a certain time.
- Be a good friend. Trust your instincts. If you notice something that doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. Learn more about how to keep your friends safe in social settings.