Risk Reduction Tips
(Information printed with permission from www.cmsac.org.)
There are ways to reduce risk of being a victim of sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, and/or stalking. Please note: there is no guaranteed way to protect yourself against sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, and/or stalking. A person can take every “safety precaution” or “risk-reduction” strategy, and still be assaulted or abused. This is because the perpetrator is 100% responsible and made a choice to assault and violate the boundaries of the victim. Sexual assault is never a result of any of the victim’s choices, but of the perpetrator’s actions alone.
You Have the Right to Set Sexual Limits
You may have different limits with different people, and your limits may change. It is important to think about what you want or don’t want and consider your own boundaries in sexual situations.
Communicate Your Sexual Limits
Communicate your limits, comfort, what you want/don’t want to the other person.
Trust Your Feelings
If you feel that you are being pressured into unwanted sex, you have the right to say “No”. Say “No” firmly, get away if possible, and tell a trusted support person. You NEVER owe someone sex.
Pay Attention to Behaviors That Don’t Seem Right to You
If you notice any of the following behaviors, get out of the situation as quickly as you can and seek help (if needed):
- Someone sitting or standing too close who seems to enjoy your discomfort.
- Power stares/looking through you or down at you.
- Someone who blocks your way.
- Someone speaking in a way, or acting as if, s/he knows you more intimately than is proper.
- Someone who grabs or pushes you to get his/her way.
- Someone who doesn’t listen or disregards what you are saying, (e.g., when you say, “NO”).
- Someone who makes sexually-degrading or sexist comments.
Be assertive. You have a right to be angry and defend yourself when someone does something to you that you do not want.
- Act immediately, if possible.
- Stand up for yourself. It’s okay to be rude to someone who is sexually pressuring you; even if it hurts their feelings.
Sexual Assault Risk Reduction Tips
In Your Car
Keep your doors locked at all times; even if you are leaving your car for only a short time. If you have car trouble and must stay with your car, raise your hood, get into your car, lock your doors, and wait for the police. It’s usually safer not to accept help from a stranger. At night, park in well-lighted areas. When you approach your parked car, walk confidently, have the key in your hand, and look around outside and inside your car before you get in. DO NOT pick up hitchhikers.
Keep your doors locked at all times; even if you leave for just a moment. If possible, use a 180 degree peephole on your entry door, and avoid letting anyone in that you do not know or are not expecting, (e.g., service repair persons, etc.). Use initials and not your first name on your mailbox.
On the Phone
Avoid giving personal information or confirming your telephone number to someone you do not know. On your voicemail, never say that you are not home, or refer to the fact that you live alone. Leave a message such as: “We are not taking calls at this time, please leave your name and number and your call will be returned at our earliest convenience.” Report any personal threats you receive to the police.
Stalking is a course of conduct that is repetitive and is directed at a specific person that places them in fear for their safety. Stalking is illegal. If you are being stalked, it is important that you have a network of safe people to whom you can speak, a safe place to go, and a plan of action when stalking occurs. Change routes to work/school, consider changing or having an unlisted phone number, do not engage in conversation with the stalker, record all messages/print all e-mails and texts, use a stalking log, carry a stalking sack(see information below), and develop a victim/offender information folder with a staff member at CMSAC by calling 320-251-4357.
Stalking safety kit should include: a copy of a safety plan, a cell phone (with camera and voice recording capabilities), stalking log (notebook of stalking incidences), a pen and paper, literature on stalking and safety planning, a safety whistle, a flashlight, pepper spray/mace.
Check out safety and prevention resources at the Stalking Prevention Awareness and Resource Center website, The Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center | SPARC (stalkingawareness.org).
For information on technology and digital safety, check out the National Network to End Domestic Violence, Tech Safety information.
What is a safety plan?
Abuse is not your fault. No person has control over their abuser’s violence. Having a safety plan is an option to reduce risks of harm to yourself and/or to your family. Please check out the safety planning information below and use it for your own situation; particularly if you are in an abusive relationship! Please make sure to review your personal safety plan regularly and share it with your family (if age-appropriate) or other trusted support people. Also, make sure to keep your safety plan in a place that is not available to your abuser!
Advocates are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to talk you through the process.
For victims of sexual assault and/or stalking:
- Central MN Sexual Assault Center, 320-251-4357
For victims of dating/domestic violence and/or stalking:
- Anna Marie’s Alliance, 320-253-6900
College Student’s Guide to Safety Planning, Create a safety plan - love is respect
For more information, visit WWW.LOVEISRESPECT.ORG