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Are You Safe?

It is not the victim’s fault when they are assaulted. The sole responsibility for violence falls to the person who commits the violent act. Unfortunately, violence still happens and people become victims as a result.

Here are some suggestions and safety tips that you may find useful in preventing yourself and others from becoming a victim of assault:

Dating

Most victims of sexual assault know the perpetrator. Unfortunately, a great deal of violence happens in relationships and dating situations. By knowing this, you can be better prepared to respond to dangerous situations. If you feel like you are in a relationship that is dangerous and you need to get out, see this guide.

Trust Your Instincts

When your intuition says that something’s wrong, trust it. You know when you feel scared or uncomfortable. Some warning signs that someone may be violent include: aggressive behavior, jealousy, attempts to control and isolate you from others, put downs, sexist remarks (or racist, homophobic or other derogatory comments about people), unpleasant sex, and heavy use of alcohol or drugs.

Be Clear

You can’t expect anyone to know how you are feeling unless you say something. If you feel ill at ease in any situation, tell your partner. Try not to get cornered into an uncomfortable situation. You should not give someone the impression that you feel secure and happy with them if you really do not. If you don’t like what’s happening, say so in a strong and assertive voice. “I Don’t Like What You’re Doing! Stop!”

Alcohol and Drugs

It’s a fact that alcohol and drugs use can be unhealthy and illegal. They can also cause a great loss of control over our bodies and minds. It is wise and safest to be with people you completely trust when using these substances. If you are going to use them, think: “Am I in control?” “Can I take care of myself?”

Pocket Money

Make sure you have enough pocket money to get home. It’s a good way to be independent. Keep the number of a taxi company in your pocket or wallet just in case you can’t get a safe ride home. Always know the address where you are.

Call for help

If you feel in danger, call the police. Program 911 and University Police phone number (724-357-2141) into your phone.

International Traveling

There’s more to worry about than passports and currency exchange when visiting a foreign place. In many countries the way you speak and dress are dead giveaways that you are a tourist and probably unfamiliar with local customs and rules. It is easier for attackers to victimize a visitor, especially if he or she cannot speak the native language, does not know how to contact the police, and is traveling alone.

Do Your Research First

Find out how to contact your national consulate or embassy, local authorities, hospitals, taxis, and hotels in that country, as well as people back home. Some phone companies will be able to provide extended services so that your cell phone will work in the country where you are traveling. Check this out along with your other travel plans before leaving.

Don’t Look Lost and Helpless

Look confident and like you know where you are going, even if you don’t. Don’t look at maps on a street corner or public place with many people around. You will give strangers the impression that you are lost and helpless. Go to a safe place like a café or your hotel room to consult a map. If you are lost, don’t admit it to a stranger. Ask instead for directions to a landmark, police, restaurant, or shop from which you can then find your way.

Be Extra Careful When Using Alcohol and Drugs While on Vacation

Vacations can be a time to try new things, party, and meet new people. However, be aware of what you are drinking and never let your drink out of sight. There are reports of people being sexually assaulted while on vacations because someone slipped a drug into their drink. Have fun, but be alert and aware.

Speak Up

Don’t be too shy to be rude to someone who makes you feel uncomfortable or afraid. Be assertive when you tell a person to step away or go away from you. It’s all right to make a scene if someone is harassing or intimidating you, since most offenders expect their victims to stay quiet.

On the ’Net

In this day and age, strangers can learn your deepest secrets and personal information without ever leaving the comfort of their homes. The advent of the Internet Age has provided society with many gifts, but several perils as well.

Don’t Go Alone to Meet Someone You Met on the ’Net

If you are going to meet someone in person that you met in a chat room, keep the rendezvous in a public place. Take someone with you and tell others where you are going.

Protect Personal Information

As fun as chatting with people around the world may be, it is wise to guard your personal information carefully when doing so. Never give out personal information to anyone through a chat room, including your real name, address, phone number, or place of work or school. When you cannot see facial expressions, body language, or voice intonation, it is nearly impossible to tell if the person you are speaking to is trustworthy. It is generally a good idea to read the privacy statement of any website that requires your personal information, especially since some sites sell your personal information to other organizations.

Ensure Confidentiality

E-mails seem like a safer means of electronic communication, but in many ways they are also risky. You can never tell if someone is looking at what you wrote by breaking into your address or looking over your shoulder. Do not post your personal information on sites such as Facebook or MySpace. Be careful of the photos you post. Only allow access to your profile by people you approve.

Facebook, MySpace...

Do not post your personal information on these sites. Be careful of the photos you post. Only allow access to your profile by people you approve.

On Campus

Whether you have moved away for school or continue to live at home, it is important to keep certain tips in mind to prevent a sexual assault at your university or college.

Create a Secure Environment in Your Residence

If you are living in a residence hall, be sure to lock your doors and windows when leaving your room. It seems like an obvious thing to do but the familiarity and comfort of residence life can cloud good judgment when it comes to safety. Be wary of who you let enter your residence house or floor. Do not allow people you do not know enter your residence hall area.

Be Cautious When on Campus at Night

Keep the number for University Police (724-357-2141) in your phone. IUP offers a safe-escort service to walk around campus at night. If you know that you need to be out late at night, try to go with someone, or at least let a friend know where you are and how to reach you.