- Don't ever hitchhike. Fortunately, only a small number of female college students hitchhike. Studies show that 98% never hitchhike. But there is an adage - "Never say never." Suppose your car breaks down. Would you consider hitching a ride? Don't!
- Trust your instincts when you sense danger. Ninety-five percent of students surveyed say that they do, and that is great. If you sense danger, get out! Don't stay around to see what happens.
- If you feel someone is following you, walk toward a store, a lighted area, a classroom building or a busy street. Many experts suggest that you do not walk directly to your apartment if you are being followed. You could lead your attacker in with you. Also, some experts suggest turning around to make the person aware that you know he is following you. Many would-be rapists rely on surprise. Don't let yourself be surprised.
- Don't be embarrassed to "make a scene" if you feel you are in danger. At worst you could hurt someone's feelings. But it could save you from being raped, or worse, being killed.
- Walk briskly and look alert. Ninety percent of students say they do. This is really important. If you look confident and appear to know where you are going, your chances of being a target decreases. Women who walk with slumped shoulders, or seem lost or look confused, appear to be easy targets. Body language is important. Rapists are much more likely to attack a person who projects a poor image - like she is lost or doesn't know where she is going.
- Realize that your image is projected to the rest of the world. If, on a bus, you constantly try to see what street the bus is stopping at, you are telling a potential rapist that either you don't know where you are, or you don't know where you are going. Never fall asleep on public transportation if you are alone.
- If a stranger approaches you and asks for the time, make brief eye contact. Don't look down or glance away. Don't stop to look at your watch or open your purse. Keep your stride and ignore the person. Don't get involved with talking to strangers. Walk briskly and confidently. Act like you know where you're going, even if you don't. Don't give the impression that you will be an "easy victim."
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- Do avoid dangerous places. Eighty-six percent of respondents say that they do. But avoiding dangerous places may have two meanings. Obviously, only someone looking for trouble walks down a dark alley.
- Avoiding dangerous places also means taking positive action, such as knowing how you can get help when you go out of town with a friend, making motel reservations when you go on a trip rather than just stopping when you get tired of driving, or finding someone in your evening classes who goes in your direction after class.
- When you are going somewhere at night, get very specific directions and, if you can, locate the place during the day. You do not want to walk around at night in an unfamiliar neighborhood.
- Consider using your initial rather that your first name when making motel reservations, for phone listings, and on your apartment/dorm door and mailbox. An initial does not reveal sexual identity.
- Do lock your apartment and dormitory doors. While 85% of respondents said that they do lock their doors, the 15% who don't represent a lot of potential rape victims. Keep your doors locked at all times. Women attacked while asleep in their homes are most vulnerable. Remember, most rapes take place in the victims' homes.
- How about the door locks? When you move in, ask the landlord to change the keys to your locks. If he or she won't, obtain permission to have them changed yourself. Request a deadbolt for your doors - one that cannot be opened from the outside when you have locked it from the inside.
- How about those door chains that let you peak out to see who is there? Usually their value is only decorative. A hard push on the door will pull them off. If you do want to use one or have one now, replace the screws with longer ones - 2" long for that part on the door molding and the depth of the door less 1/4" for those going into the door.
- Don't ignore window locks either. Be sure all of your windows are locked when you go out, and keep them locked at night. If your location is vulnerable, ask your landlord to have bars put over the windows and install outside lights as well.
- Finally, have your keys out and ready to use when you come to your door. Don't stand and fumble around looking through your purse for your keys. This is an invitation for someone lurking in the weeds. If you follow the advice on using non-conventional weapons described later in this chapter, you will be ready with your key to open your door.
- Close your blinds and shades at night. Only 79% of the respondents surveyed said that they do. Police and security officials advise keeping window coverings closed at night.
- Don't look out windows to see who is outside. Have a peephole in your door with a light outside, so that you can see who is there. If a light is not located outside of you door, insist that the landlord have one installed. If the bulb burns out, replace it yourself, unless the landlord will do so immediately.
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- Be aware of your environment. That's hard to do if you are high on drugs or alcohol. Maybe that explains why 23% of respondents said they were not always aware of their environment. Be especially alert if you are sick, tired, or have taken alcohol or drugs of any kind.
- Keep one hand free when walking. Having both hands full makes you more vulnerable, and the would-be rapist knows it. If possible, have large packages delivered. The more vulnerable you look, the more likely you are to become a target.
- If you are carrying packages, books or bags, be prepared to drop them. Nothing is as valuable as your body and life. If you sense danger, drop what you have so that your hands will be free. An attacker may be satisfied with your purse. It is better to lose worldly possessions than your life.
- Lock your car doors. Only 65% of the respondents take time to lock all of their car doors. You don't need any unwanted passengers with you. Every time you leave your car and when you are in a friend's car, lock the doors.
- Don't let the gas tank approach empty. You don't want to stop for gas in neighborhoods where you would be fearful of walking. Also, use similar caution when asking for directions.
- Park in areas that are well lighted and busy. Try to park close to your destination. Don't try to save money be walking extra blocks. When you return to your car, look for anything suspicious. If possible, have a friend walk you to your car. You can always drop the friend off close to his or her house.
- Always look inside the car before you get in. Be sure to look in the back seat. Attackers do hide in back seats.
- Know what to do if your car breaks down. Keep a flashlight (one that works) in your car. Flares are especially useful. Practice with one during the day so you will know how to use it at night. Don't try to change a tire at night. Open your hood and light a flare, if you have one. Turn on your emergency blinkers. Keep the car doors locked and windows rolled up. Wait for the police.
- If a stranger stops to help, don't get out - roll the window down just a little to talk. Ask the stranger to call the police or call for a towing service. In cold weather, keep blankets in your car to keep warm. You don't want to be forced to leave your car. If you need to run the engine to keep warm, crack a window on the downwind side of the car to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
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- Do not open doors to strangers. Sounds like your mother talking! But nearly 40% of students said that they do open doors to strangers. Ask for identification. The phone, gas, and electric companies provide I.D. If it is a plumber, check with your landlord or someone from maintenance before you let him in. Keep the plumber in the kitchen and bathroom and out of your bedroom.
- Even if a repairman has an I.D., don't become chatty with him. Also, before he comes in, announce to someone in the next room that the repairman is coming in. (It does not matter if anyone is really there; the repairman will think that someone is there.)
- If someone comes to your door and says there is an emergency, don't let the person in (male or female). Tell the person you will call for help. Offer to call the police or a garage. But keep the person outside.
- Be suspicious if a casual male friend knocks at your door. Be very cautious about letting him in. Also, don't invite the man you just met back to your home. Remember that most rapists know their victims, and frequently rapes occur in the victim's home.
- Keep emergency numbers near the phone. And even better, if you have a phone that dials automatically, program the first number to call the police. Amazingly, some 42% of survey respondents do not keep emergency numbers near the phone. It can be tough to find the phone book in an emergency, and, someone trying to rape you isn't likely to help.
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- Do not walk alone at night. Can you believe that 45% of students said that they do walk alone at night. That may be inviting trouble - and not just from the rapists. It attracts the purse snatchers, muggers and other criminals.
- Consider a buddy system when you need to go out at night. That's what friends are for. If you are in a city, always walk near the curb so as to avoid being pulled in by someone lurking in a doorway or alley.
- Know the locations of public telephones on routes to and from class. This seems simple enough, but only 42% take the time to locate phones. You may never need to use a phone, but if you are in trouble, it may be your nearest source of help.
- Know what buildings and businesses are open along the routes you travel. These are the places where you would run if accosted.
- Know how to use nonconventional weapons. What is a nonconventional weapon? Such things as keys, spray perfume, your comb, a pen or pencil. Although only 33% of the respondents indicated that they know how to use nonconventional weapons, these weapons can be most effective.
- When you jog, you can hold your keys in your right hand, with one key extended outward between the thumb and index finger (forefinger). If anyone attacks, you can cut the attacker's face with the rough edge of the key. A key can also be used effectively to stab at the attacker. Some experts suggest that a key can be a very effective weapon when aimed at your assailant's eyes.
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- Vary routes on campus. Only 22% of students take the time to do this. Why is it important? Because most rapists plan their attacks. They often watch potential victims to determine when the prospect is most vulnerable. Since students do follow schedules for classes, varying routes is particularly important. If you can't vary your route, then walk with a friend.
- If your route requires use of elevators, don't enter an elevator by yourself if a person on the elevator makes you feel uneasy. This is especially important at night. On an elevator, always try to position yourself so that you can activate the emergency button.
- Take a self-defense course. Knowing how to defend yourself is useful wherever you are. Some students really get involved and learn karate or judo. That is great, but most don't have that much interest. But, what about a basic self-defense course? It takes little time and may help fill a physical education requirement.
- Carry an alarm device. Only 12 out of 100 carry an alarm device. Maybe it sounds silly, but a whistle will attract a lot of attention and may frighten your attacker. You would be amazed how much noise you can make with a whistle - and, they are cheap, too!
- If assualted don't suffer in silence. Report the incident.
- While rape situations differ from case to case, it is useful to consider what you would do in a variety of settings - at home, in your car, on the way to class. Finally, don't invite trouble over the phone. Never listen to the heavy breathers and obscene callers. Hang up!
If you follow the precautions described above, you will go a long way toward reducing your chances of being a victim of rape. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that you will not be attacked.
- Lock your dorm room, car and office when you leave it.
- Do not leave keys, cash or other valuables in your desk drawers.
- Only carry sufficient cash for your immediate needs.
- Clearly marking your property leaves no doubt as to ownership.
- Never leave your wallet, bag, purse, or other items of property unsecured and unattended.
- Always carry your bag or purse close to you where it can not be easily snatched.
- Don't put your bag or purse on the floor when in a public restroom cubicle.
- Never carry your personal identification number with your credit cards, never tell anyone, including a bank representative, what your PIN is. Never let anyone see your PIN when entering it.
Report all Thefts to the Weatherford College Police Department.
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