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Setting the Record Straight

Know that nothing you do will ever make rape your fault: Before you even start thinking about preventing a potential rape, you have to understand that if you are raped, it is 100% the rapist's fault, and that nothing you did, wore, or said could have caused you to be raped. There is no such thing as "asking for it," and anyone who leads you to believe otherwise is deeply misguided. Though you can certainly take measures to improve your chances of avoiding danger and staying safe, in the end, nothing you can do can "cause" you to be raped.

Understand that the best thing that can be done to prevent rape is to prevent people from raping:  In today's culture, there are many things that can be done to prevent rape, and it starts with the way women are perceived. If we work, as a society, to raise men who are respectful of women and stop contributing to a culture that objectifies and belittles women constantly, then we can slowly start to turn things around. Sometimes, adolescent boys think "rape jokes" are funny and that it's okay to joke around about sexual assault, and it's important to let them know that this is not the case.

  • Many people feel that giving women guidelines about things that can be done to stay safe actually shames them and makes them feel like avoiding rape is all about having women act "the right way," and that if they make a misstep, it is basically their fault that they got raped. This is not wikiHow's intention. We intend to empower women by giving them some sensible advice on how to avoid danger.

Don't ever stop living your life. It can be overwhelming to read the advice about preventing rape. You'll start to feel like there's no place you're safe -- not your grocery store parking lot, not a restroom at a bar, not your car, and not even your own home. You might start to wonder where one can go to be completely safe from rapists. But you can't think like this. Though you should take some precautions, you can't be afraid to leave home by yourself, to be outside late at night, or to go to some of your favorite places. You can still enjoy your life and feel secure without the constant paranoia that you may feel after reading about how to prevent rape.

Know that the majority of rapes are committed by a person the victim knows.The statistics vary, but it is said that only 9%-33% of rapists were complete strangers to the victim.[3][4] This means that the vast majority of women are raped by men that they know, whether they are friends, people they are dating, co-workers, acquaintances, or even family members. This means that it's far more likely for a woman to get raped by someone she knows instead of a stranger in a dark alley. Therefore, while it's important to take precautions when you're alone, you shouldn't completely let your guard down when you're with people you know.

  • When you're in a social situation with someone you know, be extra careful and don't fully let your guard down unless you feel truly safe with the person. Know that if your gut tells you the situation is not okay, that you should leave as soon and as safely as you can.
  • Date rape is also extremely common -- according to one study, nearly 1/3 of rapes are committed by a date.[5] When you're dating someone new, understand that no absolutely means no, and don't ever let any man make you feel guilty about knowing what you do and don't want. Don't be afraid to communicate your needs clearly and loudly, if necessary.

Staying Safe in Social Situations

Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Parking lots and parking garages are two of the sites that are most often targeted by attempted rapists. These men are predators, so view your surroundings carefully. If you are in a parking lot and feel someone is following you, start making noise -- talk to yourself loudly, talk to an imaginary person, or pretend to talk on your cell phone. The louder the potential victim, the more the predator is apt to freeze.[6]

  • Scope out your surroundings during the day. Whether you're working in a new place or new to campus, make sure you learn the safest way to walk from place to place. This means staying under well-lit lights, walking in places where people tend to be around, and even being near blue light emergency call boxes, if your campus has them.

If you're in college, know that the majority of rapes happen during the first few weeks of the year. According to the Department of Justice, the majority of rapes in college occur during the first few weeks of your freshman and sophomore years.[7] These are the riskiest days because people are just getting to know each other, there are a lot of new people around, along with an abundance of alcohol. Though this shouldn't keep you from having fun or leaving your dorm room, you should be extra cautious about meeting new people, and make sure that you stick with your girlfriends and your sound judgment.[8][9]

Don't leave your drink unattended. Treat your drink like a $100.00 bill. Don't let anyone hold your drink. Avoid anything that somebody gives you. It could be "counterfeited." Always hold, keep and get your own drinks. Keep your hand over the top of your drink because it's easy to drop something into it. Do not accept a drink from a date unless the bartender or waitstaff delivers it straight to you. Even if you're pretty sure the drink you left on the other side of the room was your drink, it's a much safer bet to buy or get another one.

Drink responsibly. Again, this does not mean that drinking irresponsibly makes it your fault if a rapist approaches you; it does, however, make you more vulnerable and susceptible to unwelcome attacks. Make sure not to drink more than 1 drink per hour (which means a glass of wine, a beer, or one shot of alcohol) and to stay in control of your mind and body as much as you can. Do not opt for the sketchy punch or jungle juice in a frat house; do not let anyone who is not a bartender make you a mixed drink because it is likely to be very, very strong.

Stick with your friends. Wherever you go, show up with a group of friends and leave with that group of friends. Even if you and your friends have ended up at different parts of the party, always know where your friends are and make sure that they see where you are, too. Keep in touch with your friends, make eye contact, and make sure you're on the same page. Your friends should have your back if they see you with a guy whose company you don't want, and you should do the same. Don't leave your friend out with a guy she's met for the first time, either, especially if there has been alcohol involved.

Be assertive. If somebody is giving you unwanted attention, tell them to back off. There is no need to be polite when somebody is making unwanted sexual advances. Firmly tell the person thanks, but no thanks, you're not interested. This may be more difficult if it's someone you actually know and care about, but it will still be possible. Once you get the message across, the person will be much more likely to move on.

Keep personal information private. Don't advertise your info verbally or on the Internet. Also, be very wary of meeting up with anyone whom you meet on the Internet. There is never a good reason to meet up with a person whom you have never met in person, or who talks you into meeting-up when you are hesitant. If you think you must do so, bring someone else, preferably a friend who is older and meet the person in a public place.

Always keep your phone charged. Don't step out with an almost-dead phone. It can be your saving grace, whether you need to call the cops or call your friends and ask them for help. Make sure you do this before you step out for the night, whether you're alone or with friends. You can even make a habit of bringing a charger out with you if you tend to forget it.

Staying Safe When You're Alone

Be careful about using technology when you're out alone. Let's get this straight: you should not stop enjoying your life or doing the things you love to do because of fear that you're going to be raped and assaulted. If you love running with your iPod in, then fine, but be extra careful and look around your surroundings at all times, trying to run near where the people are. If you're walking in a dark parking garage or parking lot, then stay focused on where you need to go instead of playing around with your iPod or your iPhone.[10]

  • Attackers look for the weakest victims. If they see that you are highly vigilant and walking with purpose, they will be less likely to attack you than if you're texting and not looking where you're going, or rocking out to your new favorite song on your iPod.

Learn to trust your gut instincts. If you feel uneasy or unsure in any way, it is in your best interest to get away and get help. Use your instincts and be aware of yourfreeze instinct. If you're in a situation where you're alone and suddenly run into or see someone else who just makes you feel unsafe, then change action as quickly as possible. If you're really getting the sense that you're unsafe, then it's important to stay calm, move quickly, and to go to the place where you're the most likely to find other people.[11]

  • If you're walking down a dark street and have the feeling that the person behind you is following you, cross the street in a diagonal and see if he does the same. If so, then walk towards the middle of the street (but not so much that you can get hit by a car) so that you're more likely to be seen by an oncoming car that could help you and scare away the potential attacker.

Information gathered from: http://www.wikihow.com/Prevent-a-Potential-Rape

Ways to Protect Yourself and Be Aware

*Information gathered from RAINN

While you can never completely protect yourself from sexual assault, there are some things you can do to help reduce your risk of being assaulted. These are some of my personal tips I follow that are recommended by RAINN.

• Be aware of your surroundings. Knowing where you are and who is around you may help you to find a way to get out of a bad situation. If I am going some place new I always make sure I have my gps with me or a map printed out and someone knows where I am going and when I should be back.
• Try to avoid isolated areas. It is more difficult to get help if no one is around. I avoid isolated areas like the plague, I also fully try to trust my gut instincts and if something doesn’t feel right I leave. Which is also the reason I always drive myself places and don’t catch rides with friends.
• Walk with purpose. Even if you don’t know where you are going, act like you do. I always try to walk with strong tall posture, keys in one pocket, cell phone in the other and I look straight ahead and walk with a purpose.
• Trust your instincts. If a situation or location feels unsafe or uncomfortable, it probably isn’t the best place to be. I am always ready to leave someplace I don’t feel comfortable and always have a backup plan incase I start to feel uncomfortable.
• Try not to load yourself down with packages or bags as this can make you appear more vulnerable. When ever I am going to my car I have my keys in hand and try to have one hand free, and I am quick. I don’t hang around my car fiddling with shopping bag, door is opened, bags in and as I close my door I lock it instantaneously. It has become a habit.
• Make sure your cell phone is with you and charged and that you have cab money.  I need to get better about having some form of money on me, but I never go anyplace with out my phone.
• Don't allow yourself to be isolated with someone you don’t trust or someone you don’t know. This is the reason why I always drive myself places.
• Avoid putting music headphones in both ears so that you can be more aware of your surroundings, especially if you are walking alone. A must, very important in order to be fully aware of your surroundings.

Sexual assault is a crime of motive and opportunity. Ultimately, there is no surefire way to prevent an attack. If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it’s not your fault. You are not alone. Help is available 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotlines at 1-800.656.HOPE, and online at rainn.org