Tips for Thought

Rape Prevention Tips: How to Protect Yourself

*Trigger Warning: The following article discusses triggering content like sexual assault. Reader discretion is advised.

One of the vilest crimes that most criminals commit is rape. Rape is forcibly engaging the victim in a sexual act without obtaining their consent. This act is done through physical or psychological coercion designed to intimidate and render the victim powerless.

Rape is vile because it affects the victim physically and psychologically, leaving them vulnerable to illness, trauma, and even suicide. According to the RAINN website, at least hundreds of Americans are victims of sexual violence per day.

The topic of rape is a buzzword for many organizations, many of which wish to protect victims. Unfortunately, the prevalence of rape is still apparent worldwide and needs a global effort to eliminate that threat.

Nevertheless, it’s never a bad idea to learn safety tips. Here are some rape prevention tips regardless of sex and gender:

1. Learn about boundaries and express them.

What Are Boundaries?

In short, boundaries are imaginary lines that separate one person from another. This line covers your space, feelings, needs, and responsibilities.

Here’s an example of a boundary: One person doesn’t want another person touching their hair, especially if that person is someone they don’t know very well. Even if the reason is innocent enough (i.e., “Oh, but your hair looks so soft!”), it could leave the person feeling uncomfortable and disrespected.

Why Are Boundaries Important?

Boundaries are important because they teach others how they like to be treated. Additionally, having boundaries indicate self-respect and gives you bodily autonomy.

How Do I Express Boundaries?

To express your boundaries:

  1. Be gentle but firm with your tone.
  2. Let the other person know how you’d like to be treated.

Suppose they are not listening or deliberately ignoring your assertions even after explicit and repeated reminders. In that case, it could mean they’re not taking your comfort seriously.

*Important: It’s also essential to teach children the basics of boundaries as early as childhood. Teach them to assert their space to people they don’t know verbally. Children should express discomfort even when an “affectionate” relative start touching them. The sooner children understand their autonomy, the better and safer they’ll be.

2. Examine your surroundings.

Examine your surroundings clearly, especially when you’re out. Be wary of streets with minimal lighting, parking lots without security, rowdy clubs with drunk people, and places with a high crime rate. 

When walking at night, stay in lit areas and carry your keys in your palm as a potential weapon. Get your phone ready to call 9-1-1 as well.

3. Be wary of strangers in suspicious places.

Another sad reality is that most rape perpetrators are people the victims know. Nevertheless, it always helps to be vigilant with people in public spaces, especially at night.

Imagine this scenario: Suppose you’re attending a friend’s party at her home. The drinks are flowing, and the conversation is buzzing. You had a few drinks, and the night was filled with promise. 

Nevertheless, always hold on to your drink to prevent any possible drug drops. Carry your cup with you to the bathroom if you must. Avoid taking free drinks from strangers who you don’t fully trust yet. Additionally, be careful of people who act overtly familiar or start “innocently” touching you, even if you or they are drunk.

4. Keep sensitive details private.

Living in a modern world means being constantly connected online. Unfortunately, many people need to remember basic safety internet rules. Some of these rules include the following:

  • Never reveal your complete personal details. These details include your name, address, school, place of work, and credit card information. Only use your nickname in social media apps; never give your number and home address to a stranger you just met.
  • Do not click on suspicious links or ads. Examples include winning a free gadget or a “click-to-earn” money scam. Many scams sell bogus products and services to get something from you.
  • Be wary of online friends. The internet can be fun but also dangerous, and some people online have malicious intentions.

For instance, if you’re underage, be wary when chatting with an older person if they act overtly familiar with you or want to establish a connection because you’re so “mature for your age,” block and report. Listen to your gut. If you feel they’re being disingenuous, they might be.

5. Consider taking a self-defense class.

Anyone can learn to defend themselves, regardless of body type and age. Consider taking up self-defense classes if you want to feel more secure.

6. Keep note of the people you interact with.

Surround yourself with people who love you. It would also help if you learned to respect people’s boundaries, including your parents, siblings, and friends. If any of them violates your boundaries and insists it’s okay (i.e., “Hey, it’s okay if I touch you since we’re friends, right?”), consider your relationship with them closely.

7. Trust your instincts.

Our gut instincts exist for a reason. While feelings can be illogical, they can provide information significantly when we recognize patterns and uncomfortable behavior. If you’re unsure of a person’s intent and feel they aren’t genuine, keep your distance from them. Better to be safe than sorry.

8. Respond physically.

If push comes to shove, fight back. Bite, scream, poke their eye, or grab a rock and hurt them. There is no such thing as a “clean fight” in a life-or-death situation. Once you find an opening to leave, do so immediately and call for help.

9. Have a safety word or phrase for friends and family members.

If you have a network of friends and family and they’re going out at night, consider having a “safety word” for them to alert everyone.

For example, if a friend feels scared and wants to go home, tell them to say, “I need a breather.”  They can call, say, and text this within the social context without suspicion. You can also teach children to say this, especially if they feel uncomfortable with an adult.

Takeaway: Rape is a traumatic experience and can happen to anyone. Ideally, the best way to prevent rape is to teach people not to rape, but that isn’t always feasible. Nevertheless, until we can cultivate a culture of non-violence, we must be vigilant and teach our loved ones the same. Stay safe.

*Important: If you’re feeling triggered, please get in touch with your local rape crisis center for immediate help. If you’ve been assaulted, seek medical treatment ASAP.