When most people think of the word “rape,” they often envision a violent crime committed by a stranger. This perception is almost entirely false.
According to RAINN (Rape Abuse & Incest National Network), 82% of rapes are perpetrated by people known by the victim. The majority of these people are friends or acquaintances. However, knowledge is power—there are effective safety measures that may save your life or at least help to prevent certain crimes. Although these ten practical steps are not a guarantee of safety, pass them along to your friends and family. Most girls and women are not aware of these life skills, but they are sorely needed in this unpredictable world.
1. Trust your intuition
Presidential appointee Gavin de Becker discusses how people can often pinpoint an exact moment when they knew they might be in danger, but ignored it. Those who do not act violently may assume that others are the same way. While there are many good people in this world, there are some who hide a distinct lack of empathy. Trust yourself and your judgment. If you feel unsafe—even just for a moment with a friend—then your intuition is likely correct.
2. Cover your drinks!
In a bar setting, there are numerous opportunities to slip drugs into a drink when someone’s back turned. If you drink beer, order a bottle instead of a glass. You can easily walk or sit with your thumb covering the bottle’s small opening.
3. Never accept a drink that was not poured in your presence
Many people fear it is rude to decline a drink bought by a stranger or acquaintance. If that is a concern, accept the drink and let it sit in front of you. Drug rapes are much more common than you may realize.
4. Be aware that there is no age restriction
Many people who are done with the bar scene or college life may think that they are no longer a target when they do go out. However, people of all ages are raped. Continue to utilize the steps on this list even if you are well past your early twenties.
5. Never drink from a shared bottle
The shared bottle of hard liquor is a favorite trick among a small percentage of fraternity members, allowing them to drug multiple girls at once. For example, if a small group passes around a bottle of Malibu Rum, consider that the bottle owners may not actually be drinking it.
6. Listen to the people around you
Your parents might have taught you that others may say just about anything to get you into bed, and this fact remains true. Instead of doing all the talking when you get to know someone, try listening very closely. People tend to reveal their intentions if you take their words at face value.
7. Take advantage of the variety of fun “toys” created for your safety
Most people are familiar with pepper spray. However, there are constant advancements in the field of safety. For example, some Tasers are created to look like iPhones, and there are decorated stun guns that resemble perfume bottles. In a worst-case scenario, these trinkets in your purse may save your life. Companies like Streetwise Security Products produce goods approved for use by the police. Meanwhile, women on Guard specifically tailor their products to suit women’s needs, and tend to bedazzle these products in a fun and useful way!
8. Boost your self-esteem from within
Compliments and signs of attraction from others provide a great ego boost. Unfortunately, the need for validation from others can lead to dangerous consequences. If you are one of the many people who feel a deep need for attention, you are much more likely to fall into the group of women who believe anything that dangerous individuals might say. Do not let your ego make you a vulnerable target.
9. Be incredibly clear and concise
If you do not want a sexual encounter with someone, then state it. Never worry about sounding rude. If the person is offended, you may have just avoided an encounter with an individual who doesn’t have your best interests at heart. You decide what you deserve—take advantage of that right.
10. Make home protection a priority
Although a break-in assault only accounts for a very small percentage of rapes, protecting your home provides many benefits. Further, taking precautions means that you are taking care of yourself. This can be very empowering, and it can certainly help with the aforementioned issue of self-esteem. Many women cannot afford a full home security system, but there are plenty of creative and slightly fun alternatives such as motion sensor alarms and even fake security cameras (see the Women on Guard website for further details.) These items can deter a home invader from even considering an entrance.
Rape is one of the most disturbing threats for women. While a small percentage of men do experience rape, women encounter the majority of the violence. Remember that rape is not always violent, and it is not your fault if you felt or feel some initial attraction to the perpetrator. No one asks for this type of violation. Be kind to yourself, and remember that you can take small steps to ensure your safety. Teach these tricks to others—tell them that caring about themselves and demanding the best behavior from those around them is the secret to finding their inner strength and power.