Thursday, March 22, 2012
Common Sense Ways to Stay Safe
Ever wonder how you made it through your teen and college years? I have looked back at that time of my life with amazement on how I avoided being a victim of rape or violent crime. I thought I was invincible for sure, but I also remember having a few panic moments praying to God that if he got me through this one, I wouldn’t be so stupid next time.
Women age 18-24 are at the highest risk for being assaulted. But women of all ages need to recognize how important it is to be aware of the risks, and live a lifestyle that takes responsibility for your own safety. It is a huge misconception that the police are there to protect us, or that superman will appear in our time of need. I would like to think that if I were being assaulted or mugged, that someone would help me. I also know that there are more people not willing to get involved because of the risk of liability, the fear they have for their own safety, or their inability to really do anything because they are unprepared as well.
So it is up to you. There are many options that include lethal and non-lethal methods: Firearms, knives, kubatons, pepper spray, hand to hand, and the big one… self presentation and being aware of your surroundings.
Here are some fantastic tips from www.rainn.org that are focused on traveling on Spring Break vacation, but are also things you can do as you travel in your own community, going to and from work, or just a night out on the town.
1. 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.
2. Protect your location on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare etc. Think twice before sharing every detail of your spring break on Facebook and Twitter. Despite security settings, 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 be cautious of revealing personal information through status updates or tweets with Twitter trends like #Spring Break and #SB2012.
3. Get Local. Know your accommodation address and the safest routes to and from your local destinations. Have the number for local cab companies on hand 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.
4. Be a good friend and stick together. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
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 1.6 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.