The beginning of college life can be very exciting. It’s a time to declare your independence and spread your wings as an adult. It is a time for meeting some really cool folks and, of course, some not so cool ones.
Unfortunately, by graduation, over 20% of co-eds have faced an attempted or completed rape. Studies find that girls who are aware of potential danger, can recognize the warning signs, and know how to resist a physical attack are less likely to be targeted, more likely to prevent rape and save their lives.
Here are some of the creepy facts:
- The first 3 months of the academic year are prime hunting season for predators
- Most targeted victims are freshman
- Most rapes are planned in advance
- The predator selects victims that seem naiive
- The predator cultivates their trust and ensures an environment where he can successfully attack his victim
So what happens to her after the sexual attack? The physical heals, the emotional and spiritual scars unfortunately, take much longer. Research shows us that:
- They are 3x more likely to suffer from depression
- 6x more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder
- 13x more likely to abuse alcohol
- 26x more likely to abuse drugs
- 4x more likely to contemplate suicide
So what can we do to protect ourselves? Here are 5 actions you can take when you are feeling threatened:
- Trust Your Gut! Your intuition is your most powerful and critical self defense survival tool. When you get that “creepy” feeling, trust it, don’t try to explain it. Listen to it and get yourself to a safe space. Why? Because that feeling is your brain telling you something is “off” and “wrong” and trying to save you.
- What is he doing? Your attacker most likely is going to be someone you know, whether you know them well or just in passing. Their body language, as they’re contemplating an assault, will send off alarm signals that something is not “right.” Trust it and get to someplace safe.
- Flunk Your Interview. Predators often test boundaries to determine whether you’re going to be an easy victim by your reaction. Do you feel nervous but say nothing and just shrug it off hoping he doesn’t do it again; or do you assert yourself and tell him to back off. Which one do you think he is more likely to attack?
- Create a Scene. Women don’t like to make a scene because they are afraid of being embarrassed. But guess what? You won’t die of embarrassment, but you could die if you don’t create a scene. Predators don’t want to attract attention. Don’t give them that. Use your voice, your body, your head and control your own safety.
- Fight Back! Research shows that women who fight back survive. Successful self-defense works when a potential victim realizes that an assault is about to happen and takes the necessary steps to resist the assault.
Make sure that part of your college orientation program includes the following safety pieces:
- Know where the emergency phones are
- Know the number, by heart, for the late-night vans and Escort services if your campus offers them
- Watch out for each other at parties, especially if drinking
- Have agreements with roommates about overnight guests
- If you suspect you or a friend have been drugged, get to the ER ASAP
- Know the help resources available on campus
- Take a self defense course if offered by your college; if they don’t offer it, demand that they do