RAINN's Back to School Safety Tips
Reduce Your Risk of Sexual Assault in College
Survivors of Sexual Assault Share Their Experiences
August 10, 2010 – (Washington, DC) – RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-violence organization, together with the members of the RAINN Speakers Bureau, today released valuable tips for back-to-school safety.
College age women are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted than any other age group, and the majority of rapes are committed by someone who the victim knows. Being aware of potentially dangerous situations and knowing what to do will reduce the risk of sexual assault and maximize students’ safety.
While this is an exciting time for students, new environments and new experiences present additional risks and potentially dangerous situations. RAINN developed these practical safety tips based upon the experiences of sexual assault survivors in the RAINN Speakers Bureau and participants in RAINN’s college program, RAINN DAY. By sharing these tips, RAINN hopes to reduce the disproportionally high number of students who are sexually assaulted each year.
The RAINN Speakers Bureau Top 10 Safety Tips for Back to School Safety
- Trust your instincts. “If you don’t feel safe or comfortable in any situation, go with your gut,” suggests Jessica Lefler, survivor of acquaintance rape. “Contact your resident assistant or campus police immediately if you see anything suspicious.”
- RAINN Speakers Bureau Member Jessica Lefler, Miami, FL
- Avoid being alone with someone you don’t know or trust. “Make sure a dependable friend knows where you are and who you are with,” says Diva Kass, survivor of acquaintance rape.
- RAINN Speakers Bureau Member Diva Kass, Calabasas, CA
- Be safe online. “Make sure you don’t share personal information online, such as your phone number, address, or your current location on your social networking pages or status posts; it can endanger your safety,” suggests Breann Artes, survivor of rape. “Be cautious about meeting someone you got to know online, and always meet in a public place.”
- RAINN Speakers Bureau Member Breann Artes, East Haven, CT
- Don’t be afraid to intervene if a situation seems questionable. "If a situation seems questionable, don't be afraid to step up and intervene. If you see someone acting aggressively: speak up and step up--get involved,” says Frank DiCocco, whose close friend was sexually assaulted by an acquaintance. “By getting involved, you could prevent someone from becoming the victim of sexual assault. You could also help prevent someone you know from committing a crime. Either way: if you see something happening that isn't right, have the courage to do the right thing. Speak up and step up. Do the right thing."
- RAINN Speakers Bureau Member Frank DiCocco, Fairfax, VA
- Watch out for your friends. “If your friend seems too drunk or is acting abnormally, get him or her to a safe place immediately,” says Marnie Goodfriend, survivor of stranger rape. “If you think that you or a friend has been drugged, call 911. Make sure to tell the doctors about your suspicions, so that they know what to test for.”
- RAINN Speakers Bureau Member Marnie Goodfriend, Los Angeles, CA
- Practice safe drinking. “Don't accept drinks from people you don't know or trust and never leave your drink by itself– if you’ve left your drink alone, just get a new one,” suggests Kristine Honkus, survivor of acquaintance rape. “And always watch your drink being prepared.”
- RAINN Speakers Bureau Member Kristine Honkus, Williamsport, PA
- Try not to go out alone at night. Patricia Cumbie, survivor of acquaintance rape, stresses the importance of always walking with someone you trust. “If you’ll be walking home alone, call campus security to walk with you,” she says. “And if possible, take heavily trafficked well lit routes.”
- RAINN Speakers Bureau Member Patricia Cumbie, Minneapolis, MN
- Don’t let your guard down. “College campuses can give you a false sense of security. Don’t assume people you’ve just met will take care of you; remember that they are basically strangers,” suggests Kelly Dries, survivor of acquaintance rape.
- RAINN Speakers Bureau Member Kelly Dries, Baltimore, MD
- Don’t go off alone at parties. Jessica Frazelle, survivor of acquaintance rape, stresses this importance. “Arrive with your friends, check in with each other throughout the night, and leave together,” she suggests. “Make a secret signal with your friends for when they should intervene if you’re in an uncomfortable situation.”
- RAINN Speakers Bureau Member Jessica Frazelle, Phoenix, AZ
- Have a plan. “Make sure you know what to do or who to contact if a situation arises, like the National Sexual Assault Hotline,” says Madeleine Lietz, survivor of stranger rape. “Being prepared is a very important step.”
- RAINN Speakers Bureau Member Madeleine Lietz. Dublin, CA
Ultimately, there is no surefire way to prevent an attack. If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it’s not your fault. You are not alone. 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 assault 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 rainn.org) in partnership with over 1,100 local rape crisis centers across the country. The hotlines have helped more than 1.2 million people since 1994. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual assault, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice. For more information about RAINN, please visit rainn.org.