RAINN's 2009 Back-To-School Tips for Students

August 10, 2009 – (Washington, DC) – RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization, today released helpful safety tips for college students going back to school. While heading back to school is an exciting time, there are nonetheless risks involved when entering into an unfamiliar environment filled with new people. College aged women are at the highest risk for being sexually assaulted. Being aware of this risk is often the first step in staying safe.

RAINN's Back-To-School Tips:

  1. Trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe in any situation, go with your gut. If you see something suspicious, contact your resident assistant or campus police immediately.
  2. Avoid being alone or isolated with someone you don’t know well. Let a trusted friend know where you are and whom you are with.
  3. Get to know your surrounding and learn a well-lit route back to your dorm or place of residence. If you are new to the campus, familiarize yourself with the campus map and know where the emergency phones are.
  4. Be careful when leaving online away messages. Leaving information about your whereabouts or activities reveals details of your location that are accessible to everyone. Avoid putting your dorm room, campus address, or phone number on your personal profile where everyone can see it.
  5. Form a buddy system when you go out. Arrive with your friends, check in with each other throughout the night, and leave together. Don’t go off alone. Make a secret signal with your friends for when they should intervene if you’re in an uncomfortable situation.
  6. Never loan your room key to anyone and always lock your door. Don’t let strangers into your room.
  7. Practice safe drinking. Don't accept drinks from people you don't know or trust and never leave your drink unattended – if you’ve left your drink alone, just get a new one. Always watch your drink being prepared. At parties, don't drink from punch bowls or other large, common open containers.
  8. Watch out for your friends. If a friend seems out of it, is way too intoxicated for the amount of alcohol they’ve had, or is acting out of character, get him or her to a safety place immediately. If you suspect that you or a friend has been drugged, call 911, and be explicit with doctors about your symptoms.
  9. Don’t let your guard down. The college campus environment can foster a false sense of security. Don’t assume people you’ve just met will look out for your best interests; remember that they are essentially strangers.
  10. Try not to go out alone at night. Walk with roommates or someone you trust. If you’ll be walking home alone, ask a trusted friend to accompany you. Avoid the ATM and jogging at night. Don’t put music headphones in both ears so you can be more aware of your surroundings.

Sexual assault is a crime of motive and opportunity. 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. Help is available 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotlines at 1-800.656.HOPE, and online at 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.

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