8 tips to prevent sexual assault

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Statistics show that women are at a greater risk than men for all violent crimes, including sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence (Statistics Canada). Seven out of 10 reported sexual assaults are committed against women. This is why in this article, we are directly talking to women, although some suggestions may apply to men as well.

But first off, it is important to acknowledge that women are not sexually assaulted because they wear revealing clothing, are drunk, or alone. They are assaulted because a person decided to commit a violent act against them. So while these tips will not help you control other people, they are strategies that you can use to make it hard for those unscrupulous individuals to commit this crime.

Here are 8 tips to prevent sexual assault:

  1. Don’t be distracted

    Always be aware of your surroundings. You let your guard down when you are tinkering with your mobile phone or when you have a headset on, especially while walking down the street. Walk with purpose. Don’t look like you are lost. Take well-lit paths that are populated. If you feel that somebody is following you, don’t go straight home. Go to the nearest public place like a store or a restaurant and ask for help.

  2. The Buddy System

    Ask a partner or co-worker to walk with you. If you’re going to a social event or a party, ask a friend to come along. Watch over each other. Make sure that you and your buddy come home safely.

  3. Party responsibly

    Know your tolerance level when you drink at parties. Alcohol plays a part in most instances of sexual assault. When you start slurring your words, it’s a signal that you don’t have complete control of your faculties anymore and are therefore vulnerable. So stop. Rest and give your body time to recover. Also, watch your drink. Date rape drugs have been used on unsuspecting females in parties. If you need to leave your drink unattended, just a get a new one when you come back.

  4. Don’t overshare on social media

    Don’t share too much about your life on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms. Think twice before sharing photos of yourself. Someone can very easily check your posts and piece together information that they can use to track, fool, blackmail, or scam you. Withhold details such as address, full name, birth date, or your work place. Disengage your location settings.

  5. Trust your instincts

    Many victims report that they felt that something was off or that a person’s behavior toward them was unusual before the crime happened. If something doesn’t feel right or if you feel threatened – leave, avoid the situation or say something to stop it. You don’t need to be polite. You need to be safe. Don’t be afraid to defend yourself if you feel threatened with physical harm.

  6. Act and be vigilant

    Say something when you see a possibility of assault. Watch out for others. Staying with another lady who is alone and drunk can help protect them from possible predators who might take advantage of the situation. If you feel that you can’t step in because it might be dangerous, get the help of others or call 911.

  7. Take precautions

    Do you work the night shift? Or does your shift end very late at night or in the wee hours of the morning? Do you need to walk alone somewhere that is not safe? Identify risky situations and prepare for them beforehand. Let someone know where you are going and around what time you should be coming back. Arrange for carpooling and make an emergency plan. Check for a nearby shelter or an open establishment that you can go to in case you don’t feel safe. Always make sure that you have a fully-charged mobile phone. Equip yourself with a flashlight, high-pitched whistle or learn some self-defence moves. Incidentally, did you know that you are not allowed to bring pepper spray in Canada? Pepper spray use is restricted to law enforcement. Also, bear spray is sold to the public but only as a safety device for hikers. It is not legal to use it for self-defense (just fyi).

  8. Support education

    Support and invest in programs that teach sexual assault awareness. If you have young children, teach them at an early age about respect and boundaries. Sexual assault education is crucial. Persistent forms of violence against women are rooted in gender inequality – the idea that the needs, feelings, or beliefs of one person/group are more correct or important than those of another person/group. Those who commit sexual assault believe that a victim is unequal and thus deserves to be controlled, humiliated, intimidated or abused. Teaching that this dynamic is wrong and against the law is the most effective way to stop sexual assault.

Sources: 4 things women can do to lower their risk of sexual assault, Rachael Rettner, LiveScience; You are not alone, Manitoba.ca; and Sexual assault and harassment fact sheet, Canadian Women’s Foundation. All retrieved September 20, 2018.

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