This post is the third in a three-part series on sexual assault. Monday’s blog featured a brief review of Wendy Blight’s book, Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner, and yesterday Wendy recapped her story for us (if you missed that post, click here to download a free chapter of the book). I am grateful for Wendy’s perspective, and for her willingness to write these posts. The strategies she offers for staying S.A.F.E. are worth sharing. JB
How I wish someone had shared with me what I’m about to share with you. If they had, perhaps the events of June 7, 1987 would have ended very differently.
A few years ago, Oprah Radio invited me to Chicago to share my story and the facts, statistics, and practical lessons I learned from my experience. I’m sharing that same information with you today. I write this NOT to instill fear but to inform and educate. I invite you to read through to the end…inform and educate yourself… and share what you learn with your friends.
- Did you know that 1 out of 4 college women are sexually assaulted every year?
- Did you know that 1 out of 6 women some time during their lifetime will be the victim of sexual assault?
- Did you know that approximately 60% of sexual assaults go unreported every year? And 97% of rapists will never spend a day in jail.
Victims of sexual assault are:
- 3 times more likely to suffer from depression.
- 6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
- 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol.
- 26 times more likely to abuse drugs.
- 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.
(Statistics taken from RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.)
Sexual assault is a crime of 0pportunity!!! What do I mean by that? Rarely is a woman assaulted by a stalker. A perpetrator selects his victim because, by her unintentional actions, she has made herself an easy target. By following a few simple steps, you can avoid being an easy target. I learned some of these first-hand. THE KEY TO AVOID BEING A VICTIM IS AWARENESS; please share these “Be S.A.F.E.” strategies with all the women you know!
S – Avoid Compromising Situations
When you go out….
- never leave your drink unattended (alcoholic and non-alcoholic)
- never accept a drink from a stranger and accept drinks only when you see the bartender pour it and hand it directly to you
- never leave the keys to your home with anyone (valet, service station, car wash)
- never be alone with someone you do not know
- always be sure a friend or family member knows who you are with and where you are going
- be conscious of what you post on social media; never announce you will be alone…anytime or anywhere
- use apps that will help contact people when you are in trouble and locate you (for example: Circle of 6 and bSafe)
A – Be Aware of Your Surroundings
- know where you are at all times
- know what is going on around you
- know who is around you
- never have conversations within range of a stranger that reveal you will be home alone, closing a business alone, traveling alone, etc.
F – Trust Your Feelings
- if your intuition tells you something is not right, pay attention and respond (chills down your spine, hair stands on end, knot in your stomach)
- flee if you feel uneasy or uncomfortable
- call 911 if you sense danger
- never ignore your feelings because they may save your life
E – Don’t Be An Easy Target
- secure your home, apartment, and car by locking your doors and windows at ALL times – NO EXCEPTIONS
- carry your cell phone at all times and be sure it is charged
- never walk alone at night ANYWHERE
- never open your door to a stranger and ALWAYS ask for identification when expecting workmen
- don’t leave a friend alone … ever
- watch what you drink and don’t exceed your limit
Some of these sound simple and obvious. But I violated three of these prevention steps. I had a conversation outside at the pool which unintentionally announced to everyone around me that I would be home alone that afternoon. We left our front door unlocked, which allowed the rapist easy access. I had a “strange” sensation when I walked in the apartment and saw our front door locked because we usually left it unlocked for each other. But I didn’t trust that “feeling” and walked up the stairs right into the arms of an armed, masked man.
What to Do If It Happens to You
- Immediately call 911 no matter what your attacker threatens.
- Do not change your clothes.
- Do not shower or bathe.
- Do not brush your teeth.
- Do not move or remove any item from the location of the attack.
- Write down anything you can remember immediately (race, age, height, weight, hair color, hair length, eye color, distinguishing marks, facial hair, clothes, weapon, odors).
- Go to the emergency room.
For help, contact 1-800-656-HOPE, the national hotline for RAINN. Anyone who believes they have been raped or abused in any way can call this number.
This is a message I’ve shared on many college campuses and in radio and television interviews. I invite you to share what you have learned today with those in your sphere of influence…women you care about…it could save a life!