When families send their teen-aged daughters off to college or university they want them to get a good education, meet life-long friends and have a positive experience. It’s an exciting and scary time for parents. For many it will be their child’s first experience living away from home. They hope they’ve taught them enough to embark on their journey and to successfully begin life as a young adult.
They also know their daughters will be meeting and mixing with boys, attending parties and possibly having a drink or two. They expect them to study but also have some fun in their down time. Any parent who doesn’t expect their daughter embrace the social life on campus is being naive.
One fact is becoming clear however. College and university campuses aren’t the safe havens many parents would like to anticipate. College fraternities and universities throughout the US and UK have had repeated allegations of sexual assault and rape. In a fair and just world the perpetrators should be prosecuted. However sexual assault and rape on campus continues to go underreported, therefore sending a message that rape culture is acceptable. It’s not.
Women should not have to change their behaviour. However reality suggests they do need to be educated about to protect themselves. By following these basic guidelines many young female students will reduce the risk of sexual assault and rape considerably.
1. The number one rule to remember is there is always safety in numbers. If going to parties or social gatherings always attend in a group. Plus, don’t leave with someone unless they are very well know. Additionally don’t leave members of the group behind and ALWAYS stay together. It’s much harder for a rape or sexual assault to occur when there are more than three or four women together.
2. Set up phone-a-friend when going out. It doesn’t matter if it’s to the library or shopping, but always maintain the safety in numbers philosophy. For example; when going out always have someone to call to say where you are and continue to tell the person of your current location throughout the outing.
3. Continue to stay in contact with that person via phone calls. Texts or FB notifications can be faked by others so voice to voice contact is essential. If you do this for each-other it will become routine and you will always have help available when or if you ever need it.
4. Have a plan with the nominated person if there’s trouble. Have a signal saying which means help. It might be something like “Did your Mom call you yet?” or something not obvious to a potential attacker. If the other person knows you are in trouble they shouldn’t hesitate to call police. Only use the help saying when you need assistance and this will reduce mistaken call-outs.
5. If drinking alcohol always do it safely. Don’t leave open glasses or bottles alone for anyone to tamper with and always keep hold of your own drink. Don’t pass it to an unknown female just in case they are the “bait”. Plus don’t wipe yourself out! Ultimately drinking too much alcohol makes women of all ages in many situations highly vulnerable to rape or sexual assault.
6. Lastly, be diligent and keep yourself and your friends safe. Inform other female students of the dangers and work together to reduce the risk and vulnerability young female students are currently experiencing. Each women has a right to be educated and attend college or university without fear of sexual assault or rape. Support each-other to report incidence and help put an end to victim-blaming.