According to RAINN, young women (aged 16 to 19) are four times more likely to fall victim to sexual assault, rape, or attempts thereof. Now, most people’s image of a perpetrator is some shady-looking stranger. However, the same stats reveal that 93% of the time the victim and attacker are acquainted in some fashion. We’ll take that into account as we guide you through how to stay safe on campus.
#1 Use a Safety App
Here’s one immediate and palpable thing you can do to ensure your safety on campus. You’ve got plenty of alternatives when using a security app (follow the link for some great options):
- Voice activated SOS buttons to call the authorities or personalized circles
- GPS tracking for trustworthy contacts
- SMS-based alerts for those of you without a smartphone, or when you’re in an area with poor Internet connectivity
- Live audio and video feed where possible
And many other options to help clear the constant cloud of anxiety hanging over your head. However, that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. Ideally, you wouldn’t need to use a safety app at all. Here’s what you can do to avoid ending up in such a scenario.
#2 Keep An Eye Out on Your Drink
Whether it’s alcohol or a soft drink, attackers can easily slip drugs into your glass or bottle if you’re not careful. Out with classmates you don’t know so well? Watch your drink at all times. If someone offers to buy you a drink, politely refuse or head to the bar with them to dissuade them from trying anything funny.
Don’t get us started on leaving drinks unattended at a party. Of course, it can get awkward trying to dance while still holding your cup. In that case, you can simply ask for a fresh cup to pour a new drink rather than risk it. Remember, it only takes one laced drink to end in a potential disaster.
#3 Stay Stocked on Essentials
Security-wise, these three things should never be missing from your purse or pockets:
- An external battery in case your phone battery dies while you’re out and about. If it’s not obvious yet, safety apps are pretty much useless with a drained battery.
- Emergency cash you keep separate from your other belongings. Keep some cash in your wallet in case of a robbery, so the attacker is less likely to look for secret hiding spots. Say, your shoes, hidden pockets, bra pouches, money belts, and so on.
- Pepper spray and/ or emergency whistle for self-defense or even scaring off the attacker with a loud, unexpected noise.
Test them out a couple times so you know what to do in a situation where you might not be able to focus clearly. Muscle memory can be a life saver.
#4 Take Advantage of Campus Security
Despite getting a bad rap in recent years (and rightfully so in many cases), most colleges do want to keep their students safe. If nothing else, they’ll do their best to avoid the ensuing scandal. However you feel about the situation, you should take the time to get acquainted with your campus security network.
Check where the security guards usually patrol around the area. Don’t hesitate to ask them to escort you across campus late at night if you’re feeling unsafe. Might as well make good use of that hefty tuition fee, right?
Next, check the location of the emergency call boxes (with the big red emergency buttons), or other means of alerting others that you’re in danger. You don’t want to be caught off guard without at least these means of escape.
#5 Secure Your Dorm Room
It goes without saying that you should lock your door and windows at night and when you’re absent during the day. You can also find cheap security kits online that include door stop, window, and personal alarms. Even the craftiest thieves will run at the sound of a blaring alarm noise, don’t you worry.
Other useful security additions to your dorm room include a laptop lock and a small safe or strong box. You can also find decoy stashes online that work just as well. Say, a juice can that doubles as a cash and jewelry holder.
As you can see, there is no shortage of ways to keep yourself and your valuables out of harm’s way. The most obvious advice (and sorry for sounding like your parents here) is to choose who you hang out with wisely.
It can be easy to fall for peer pressure and do something dangerous so you don’t look “uncool” in front of your friends. But think of it this way – would your real friends want you to feel unsafe?
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