College should be the most exciting time of your life, filled with unforgettable memories and perhaps even the occasional class attendance. You shouldn’t have to worry about threats from your fellow classmates, but sadly, college women are still subjected to violence on a regular basis. As often cited in the famous publication Fraternities of Fear: Gang Rape, Male Bonding, and the Silencing of Women, at least one in four female students will become the victim of a sexual assault at some point during her college career. Don’t let it happen to you. Here are just a few simple but important tips for protecting yourself during those life-changing collegiate years.
Lock Your Doors
If you want the full college experience, you’ll certainly want to explore the wonders of dorm life. You must be diligent, though, even in a women-only dorm. There is a practice known as hall cruising, whereby predators gain access to a dorm—usually by winning the trust of an unsuspecting resident—and cruise the halls in search of unlocked doors. Get in the habit of locking your door whenever you step through it, whether to enter or leave.
Carry Pepper Spray
Yes, we realize that this one might seem a bit extreme if you’re not accustomed to carrying self-defense tools on your person, but pepper spray canisters are extremely small and discreet, and can substantially enhance your peace of mind. You can even find pepper spray iPhone cases for sale, which are perfect for those evening strolls through the quad.
Be Mindful of Your Surroundings
In other words, follow your instincts. Don’t enter your dorm room alone if you see strange men lurking nearby, and call 911 if you believe that you’re being followed. If walking alone after hours, leave your headphones in your pocket or handbag. Predators love to pounce on oblivious victims, so don’t give them the chance. Which leads us to our next point…
Walk Escorted During the Evening
Ideally, it’s best to completely avoid walking alone after hours. We realize this isn’t always possible, but remember that there is strength in numbers. Travel with friends whenever you can, and find out if your campus offers after-hours escorts. Many universities will enable you to walk to your car with campus police during nighttime hours, so you can safely make your way through those dark corridors without constantly looking over your shoulder.
Never Leave with a Man You Don’t Know Well
So you’re at a bar, a party or even the campus library, and you happen upon a guy who seems attractive, charming and altogether well to do. This should go without saying, but not every man you meet is as trustworthy as he seems, and it’s never wise to follow or get in a car with a guy you just met. Ted Bundy was said to have been incredibly charming, and while that might seem like an extreme example, it’s worth bearing in mind.
Drink While Supervised by Friends
Studies show that more than half of sexual assaults involve alcohol, so it’s always wise to have a group of supportive friends at your side. By supervising one another, you and your friends can better ensure that everyone in your party remains safe. For instance, if you have to get up and use the restroom, you never want to leave your drink completely unattended, as the date rape drug is still rampant on college campuses.
Just Yell Fire
Just Yell Fire is a nonprofit organization, a movie and a movement. Using the company’s comprehensive website, you can educate yourself about avoiding violence and abuse on college campuses; check out the video today, and become a part of this important and potentially life-saving campaign. You don’t have to live in fear. By being proactive about your safety, you can maintain your power and focus on all the things that make college life great.