Anyone can be a Victim
It is important to remember that anyone can be a victim. There is no way to predict this, regardless of who we are or what we know. Having good information, however, can certainly affect the outcomes of these situations. It is critical to remember that although there are precautions one can take, this does not promise safety nor does it hold the victim responsible. Victimization is never the fault of the victim. Making wrong choices does not make someone deserve to be violently assaulted by another person; making wrong choices makes him/her human.
Always, Always, Always trust your “gut” instinct. Do not "talk yourself out of" a feeling of fear or apprehension. This could literally save your life!!! It is better to be safe than to worry about offending someone or being rude.
If you are a victim, seriously consider counseling. Surviving a violent crime has a huge impact on a person's life, and in many ways. This is not something you can get through alone. Find a support system immediately and utilize your resources!!
- Be sure the doors of your residence are locked when you are there as well as when away.
- Use peepholes to identify people before opening the door (or peek out the window).
- Require identification from service providers.
- Don't let anyone you don't know well inside your residence to use the phone; make the call for them.
- Never indicate to anyone that you are alone.
- Use window key locks for double-hung windows, you can also drill holes through both sashes and insert nails, pins, or bolts.
- Never hide keys outside your home. (And have your keys out as you approach the door.)
- Make sure outside entrances stay well lit at night. (Immediately replace burned-out bulbs.)
- Get to know your neighbors. You can all watch out for each other.
- Close curtains and shades at night.
- List your initials instead of your first name on your mailbox and in the telephone directory.
- Refrain from doing laundry in a deserted or poorly lighted facility.
- Avoid being in isolated areas such as laundries or parking garages by yourself, especially at night.
- Always have your key ready for quick entry into your residence.
- Have a telephone readily available near your bed for quick use at night.
- Hang up immediately on unwanted calls.
- If you find a door or window open or signs of forced entry upon arriving at your residence, don't enter. Go to the nearest phone and call the police.
- Stay in well-lighted areas, away from alleys, bushes, and entryways.
- Walk confidently, directly, and at a steady pace.
- Walk on the side of the street facing traffic.
- If a driver stops to ask directions, avoid getting near the vehicle.
- Don't hitchhike and only accept rides from people you know well.
- Wear comfortable clothing and shoes so you'll be able to move fast if you have to.
- Avoid carrying lots of packages - it can make you look defenseless.
- If a car appears to be following you, turn and walk in the opposite direction.
- Carry a whistle and use it if you feel you are in danger.
- If you are in trouble, attract help any way you can. Yell, call for help, shout "Fire!" or break a window.
- Above all, be aware of your surroundings and the people around you, even those you know.
In a Vehicle
- Have your key ready when you approach your vehicle.
- Check inside your vehicle before entering (including the back seat and under your car.)
- If you are parked next to a van, get into your car through the passenger's door. Some attackers pull their victims into the van while they are getting into their cars.
- Look at the car parked on both sides of your vehicle. If the person in another car looks suspicious, walk back into the building and wait or have someone escort you out to your car.
- Always keep your vehicle locked with windows up, even while driving.
- Park in well-lighted areas.
- Avoid isolated roads and short-cuts.
- Never pick up hitchhikers or people you don't know well.
- Keep your vehicle in good repair. Make certain you have enough fuel.
- Remain inside your vehicle if you develop mechanical trouble. Keep the doors locked and the windows up until help arrives. To signal distress, put up the hood or display a sign. If someone stops to offer help, don't leave the vehicle; ask that they call the police or a service provider.
- If you are followed, drive to the nearest open business for help, or go to a police or fire station.
- When dropping someone off, wait until passengers have safely entered their residence or destination.
- If involved in a minor collision at night or in an isolated location, do not exit to inspect damage or contact the other driver. Signal the other driver with your lights and proceed to the nearest lighted and occupied business or police station.
In an Elevator
- Do not get into an elevator with someone that makes you feel uncomfortable.
- Stand near the control panel (and not in the back corners away from the doors.) If attacked, ring the alarm and hit as many floor buttons as possible.
- If someone gets on the elevator with you and they make you uncomfortable, get off immediately.
On a Date
- Examine your feelings about sex - decide early whether you will agree to sex during the date or not.
- Do not give mixed messages; be clear. Say "yes" when you mean yes and "no" when you mean no.
- Set limits and communicate these clearly to your partner.
- Be alert to unconscious messages you may be giving - your behavior may be interpreted differently from what you intended.
- Be firm and do not worry about being "polite." Passivity may be interpreted as permission. Say, "Stop it!"
- Be independent and aware of your dates. Do not be totally passive. Do have opinions on where to go. Do think about appropriate places to meet (not necessarily at your home or his.)
- Do not do anything you do not want to just to avoid a scene or unpleasantness.
- Be aware of specific situations in which you do not feel relaxed and immediately get out of that situation.
- If things start to get out of hand, be loud in protesting, leave, go for help.
- Be aware that alcohol and drugs are often related to acquaintance rape. They compromise your ability (and that of your date) to make responsible decisions. If you choose to drink alcohol, drink responsibly. Be able to get yourself home and do not rely on others to "take care" of you.
- Avoid falling for such lines as "You would if you loved me." If he loves you, he will respect your feelings.
- If you are unsure of a new acquaintance, go on a group or double date. If this is not possible, meet him in a public place and have your own transportation home.
- Be careful when you invite someone to your home or you are invited to his home. These are the most likely places where acquaintance rapes occur.
- Socialize with people who share your values. If you go out with people who are more sexually permissive than you are, you may be perceived as sharing those values.
- REACT IMMEDIATELY! Only you can decide how to respond and you must follow your instincts but whatever you decide - do it quickly and do not second-guess yourself. Whether you scream, yell "fire", fight back (a quick blow to a vulnerable area can take the attacker by surprise and give you a chance to escape - aim for the throat, eyes, nose, knees or groin), or run - just do it and do it immediately.
- If you can get away from the abductor before you are taken away from the area, you're survival chances are much greater. Once he has you on "his" territory, he is even more dangerous.
- It has been suggested to run if the attacker has a gun and that the attacker only has a 4 in 100 chance of actually hitting you with a bullet if you are moving. Something else to consider is comparing the risk of getting struck by a bullet versus being in the hands and the mercy of a dangerous predator.
- REPORT the attack immediately to the police. Your safety is crucial at this point so it is important that you are protected and that your needs are attended to promptly. If sexually assaulted, do not wash or change clothes - go to the hospital as soon as possible. Washing will be the first thing you want to do but it is important to get to the hospital first. This is vital to the evidence collection (even if you do not want to report the crime at first, you may change your mind later.)