Washington, D.C., February 25, 2013 — Whether you are headed to the beach or overseas or taking part in a service trip, it’s important to keep your safety top of mind this spring break. College aged students are at the highest risk for being sexually assaulted. That’s why it’s so important that to be aware of some simple things you can do to reduce the risk and prevent you or a friend from being the victim of sexual assault.
“While there is no surefire way to prevent a perpetrator from committing an act of sexual violence, there are some simple steps students can take to make sure their spring break is both fun and safe,” said Katherine Hull, spokesperson for RAINN. “It’s important for students to be aware of possible risks, and know how and where to get help if they need it.”
- Trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe in any situation, go with your gut. If you feel uncomfortable or something doesn’t feel right, leave and get to a safe place immediately. If someone is pressuring you, it’s better to lie and make up a reason to leave than to stay and be uncomfortable, scared, or worse.
- Be wary of the “You Only Live Once” mentality. Being spontaneous and adventurous goes hand-in-hand with spring break. However, being too carefree can lead to dangerous situations. Don’t leave your normal logic at home just because you’re in a foreign place.
- Don’t let your guard down. A spring break destination can create a false sense of security among vacationers. Don't assume that fellow spring breakers will look out for your best interests; remember they are essentially strangers.
- Protect your location on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare etc. Think twice before sharing every detail of your spring break on social media. Before leaving for your trip, review your security settings to ensure that information you post to social media is as private as possible. However, even with strict security settings, be aware that posting information about your whereabouts or activities can still reveal details that are accessible to the public. Use your best judgment when “checking-in” on Facebook or Foursquare and geo-tagging images you post to Instagram. Be cautious of revealing personal information through status updates or tweets with Twitter trends like #SpringBreak and #SB2013.
- Get local. Know your accommodation address and the safest routes to and from your local destinations. Before leaving a hotel, ask the concierge for a business card with the hotel address or write the address down if you are staying at a rental property to ensure you have the correct address. Have the number for local cab companies on hand too and always keep enough cash on you to take a taxi home. Know who to contact in the event of an emergency, such as 911 or local authorities. If traveling internationally, have the contact information for the U.S. Embassy with you.
- Be a good friend—stick together & have a plan. Arrive together, check in with one another throughout the night, and leave together. Think twice about going off alone; if you have to separate from your friends, let them know where you are going and who you are with. If something seems questionable or someone is acting aggressively, don’t be afraid to intervene. By speaking up, you may help prevent your friend from being the victim (or perpetrator) of a crime.
- Use your cell phone as a tool. If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, shoot a quick text for a "friend-assist." Make a back-up plan before you go out just in case your phone dies. If you are traveling internationally, buy a pay-as-you-go phone or contact your cell phone provider to activate international coverage during your trip.
- Drink responsibly and know your limits. Always watch your drink being prepared, and, when possible, buy drinks in bottles. If you lose sight of your drink or believe it might have been tampered with, throw it out and get a new one. If you or a friend seem too intoxicated for the amount of alcohol consumed or you suspect that someone has been drugged, get to a hospital.
In the event of a sexual assault during spring break, seek immediate medical attention. In the U.S., call 911 for emergency help or the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE) for advice and support. If you are traveling internationally contact the State Department or the American Embassy in country, to be connected with special services for American victims of crime abroad. You can also register your international trip with the U.S. State Department, to be notified of safety status changes.
Regardless of when the sexual assault occurred, it’s never too late to get help. If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, talk to someone who understands what you’re going through. Help is just a call or click away via RAINN's National Sexual Assault Hotlines: 1-800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization and was named one of "America's 100 Best Charities" by Worth magazine. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotlines (800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org) in partnership with more than 1,100 local rape crisis centers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. The hotlines have helped more than 1.8 million people since 1994. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice. For more information about RAINN, please visit rainn.org.