While it shouldn’t be up to women and femme-presenting people to protect ourselves from the unwanted sexual advances of perverted, predatory men, we need to be prepared for the worst.
When our president has been caught on tape bragging that powerful men can “grab [women] by the p*ssy,” the worst isn’t too far out of reach. And, well, neither are our bodies.
It’s true that dismantling rape culture should be priority number one, but as we fight for societal change, we need to be able to defend ourselves in the meantime. For more information about this, visit The Nation for 10 ways to end rape culture. The list includes things such as getting rid of toxic masculinity and victim blaming, as well as speaking up and speaking out against misogynists and rape jokes.
So to girls everywhere who are worried about being assaulted at their workplace, college campus, or on the street, I’ve got you covered. It’s important that you have the knowledge you need to stay safe and avoid instances of harassment or rape.
Just know that your inability to follow all of these guidelines does not mean that any assault that befalls you is your fault. It is never your fault, even when you don’t say no, even when you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, and even if you are wearing “provocative” clothing. These tips are for your safety alone. They are NOT reasons why you deserve rape if you don’t adhere to them.
1. Pay attention to your surroundings. As easy as it is for most men to take advantage of you, it becomes a thousand times easier when you give them the upper hand by not being aware of what’s going on. Try not to walk alone with both earbuds in. Please don’t stop for a nap out in public. Avoid turning your back to a dark alley. When you turn a corner, especially in a city, give it a wide breadth so that people can’t jump you from behind a building or wall. It’s much harder to surprise and assault someone who knows an attack is coming.
2. Don’t lower your inhibitions. While it’s fun to let loose and party to blow off steam every so often, take precautionary measures to ensure that your drinking or smoking doesn’t inhibit your ability to stay safe. Make sure you’re in a secure environment before you let your guard down, and even then, surround yourself with people you trust.
3. Be loud and proud. There’s nothing an attacker hates more than a mouthy, loud target. Remember that your assailant wants a submissive victim and smooth sailing, so don’t make it easy for them. Scream and shout, say anything that will draw attention to you and the situation. Contrary to what most self defense seminars tell you, don’t yell “fire.” A simple “HELP! POLICE/CALL 911!” should suffice in drawing people to you, not away from you. Make it evident that you are not joking around.
4. You’re as dangerous as the weapons you carry. In the case of imminent danger, everything can be used as a weapon. Your keys, your umbrella, that wine bottle you left in the car. Nothing is off limits. Read up on your rights, too. For example in California, if you have reason to believe your assailant means to cause you serious bodily harm, or if he brandishes any type of weapon, under penal code 197, you have legal rights to justifiable homicide, meaning that you have legal rights to kill anyone attempting to or actively committing a felony, (any crime punishable by death or by imprisonment in the state prison), which rape is.
5. No matter what, put up a fight. Men are less likely to continue any rape attempts if they decide you are causing too much of a scene or you are more trouble than you’re worth. Even if you are physically weaker than him or don’t know how to fight, going full “Eye Of The Tiger” will likely deter his efforts. A Swedish study found that two-thirds of 300 victims of rape experienced involuntary paralysis during the traumatic event, which is actually an evolutionary adaptive defense mechanism. While this might be your first instinct, try not to freeze up. Any push back might be enough to repel a rapist.
6. Work smarter, not harder. When you are out having a good time, the last thing you want to be doing is super sleuthing to guess which guy you hang out with will try and slip a roofie into your drink. GHB and Rohypnol, two of the main date rape drugs are odorless and tasteless. So don’t leave your drink alone, even if it’s with someone you trust. And for whatever reason if you have to leave it, invest in nail polish or a straw or any of these amazing new inventions created to help detect the presence of a date rape drug in beverages.
7. Don’t be fooled by pluralistic deceit. Seven out of ten rape victims are raped by someone they know. Often someone they were very close to. Just because it isn’t a one night stand or a total stranger, don’t assume you are safe alone with someone, especially if they are male. This is the reason many girls develop relationship and trust issues after abuse. While it’s hard, you have to assume the worst. Because the last person you would ever think to watch out for, might be the most dangerous person in your life. The closer someone is to you, the more access they have to your life, and the easier assault becomes. Writer Olivia Petter outlined some red flags in an article on The Independent to look out for that could save you from assault or rape with people you know in your daily life.
It’s also extremely important to note that these instances as well as prevention tips can be applied to men as well, considering that it is entirely true that males can be raped as well.
Educating people on this information helps other people avoid worst-case scenarios as well.
Visit RAINN for the National Sexual Assault Hotline and information about steps to take after rape occurs. If you suspect someone you know has been assaulted, check these warning signs for clarity.
Photo: Joshua Harris via Unsplash