March 3, 2011 – (Washington, DC) — RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, today released valuable safety tips for spring break. Whether students are driving to the beach or traveling overseas, they should know how to identify and avoid possibly dangerous situations.
“It’s important for students to be aware of possible risks, and know how and where to get help if they need it,” said Katherine Hull, spokesperson for RAINN. “While you can’t 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.”
RAINN’s Top Spring Break Tips:
1. Trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe in any situation, go with your gut.
2. Stick with your friends.
When you are out with your friends, arrive together, check in together and leave together. Do not wander off alone. Create a secret signal or code word with your friends to let them know you are uncomfortable and you need them to intervene. Don’t be afraid to let a friend know if something is making you uneasy or if you are worried about your or your friend’s safety.
3. Protect your location on Facebook, Twitter & Foursquare.
Social networking sites make it easy to stay connected with friends, but be aware about the risks associated with sharing too much information about your location; it can endanger your safety. Adjust your privacy settings and use your best judgment when ‘checking-in’ on Facebook or Foursquare. Be cautious about revealing personal information and locations through status updates or tweets with Twitter’s trends like #SpringBreak and #SB2011. Be smart about meeting someone you got to know online, and always meet in a public place.
4. Make a plan.
Establish a meeting spot before going out for the night in the event you or your friends get separated. Know the address of the hotel or rental property and identify a safe way to return before you go out. If you are going somewhere on your own, tell your friends so that they know where you are, who you are with, and when they should expect you back.
5. Don’t let your guard down (even though you're on vacation).
Vacationing at a spring break destination can create a false sense of security and community with your fellow spring-breakers. In reality, the vacation destination is just like any city filled with strangers; treat it as you would any unfamiliar environment. Don't assume that someone you've just met will look out for your best interests.
6. Practice safe drinking.
Don't accept drinks from people you don't know or trust. Never leave your drink unattended, and if you do lose sight of it, get a new one. Always watch your drink being prepared, and when possible try to buy drinks in bottles, which are harder to tamper with than cups or glasses. If you suspect someone has tampered with your drink, throw it out and get a new one.
Don’t be afraid to intervene if a situation seems questionable. If you see someone acting aggressively, speak up. By getting involved, you could prevent someone from becoming the victim of sexual violence. You could also help prevent someone you know from committing a crime.
8. Avoid being alone or isolated with someone you don’t know and trust.
If someone you don’t know or trust asks you to go somewhere alone, let him or her know that you would rather stay with the group. Use any excuse you can think of to get out of a difficult situation. If you happen to find yourself alone with someone you don’t know, use any reason you can to leave.
9. Be aware of your surroundings.
Check out your surroundings before you go out and learn a well-lit route back to your hotel or rental property. Avoid putting music headphones in both ears so that you can be aware of what’s going on around you, especially if you are walking alone. Be alert and aware at all times.
10. Be prepared.
Always carry emergency cash and keep phone numbers for local cab companies handy. 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. If you hail a cab, just hand them the paper so they know exactly where to take you. Have a charged cell phone with you. If your cell phone does not work outside of the country, consider renting one that does for the duration of your trip — or contacting your cell phone provider to activate international service for the duration of your trip.
Sexual violence is a crime of motive and opportunity. Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to prevent an attack. If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual violence, please know that the assault is not your fault, that you are not alone, and that help is available. Free, confidential support is available 24/7 through RAINN's National Sexual Assault Hotline or the Online Hotline.
If you are traveling abroad and need immediate help, contact the U.S. State Department.
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. The hotlines have helped more than 1.5 million people since 1994. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual assault, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.