It’s Spring Break in Utah, not Hunger Games, and the odds are not in your favor. With parties up, and inhibitions and vigilance down, it’s important to be aware of your personal safety.
Rape is the only violent crime that occurs at a higher rate in Utah than anywhere else in the nation, and most assaults—over 80 percent—go unreported. Statistics put one in five women at risk for rape in Utah during her lifetime.
In a culture predominated by ideals of sexual purity, many young men and young women are completely unprepared to protect themselves from assault. Those who are assaulted frequently blame themselves, and are plagued by major depression.
First, what is sexual assault? According to the Utah Health Department, it is defined
as “unwanted sexual contact or attention resulting from force, threats, bribes, manipulation, pressure, or violence…[these include] rape, attempted rape, domestic and dating violence.” Next, what can you do to protect yourself? These are the things I teach my teen daughters. They are the things I wish my mother had taught me.
1. The Rape and Sexual Assault Crisis Line in Utah is 1-888-421-1100. Put it in your phone. Now.
2. Rapists are rarely strangers. Between 80-93% of victims in Utah know their attackers.
3. Alcohol and other drugs are often used to incapacitate victims into submission. If you plan to drink over Spring Break, pour your own beverages and maintain awareness of your drink
at all times. Limit your consumption, and never accept a drink from someone else, even if you know the person.
4. Drinking games put you at distinct risk for being assaulted.
5. Stay in groups. If you begin to feel uncomfortable from the attention of one or more individuals, let others in your company know. Then leave in the company of one or more trusted friends.
6. Jogging or walking alone leaves you vulnerable.
7. Don’t listen to your iPod while you are out alone.
8. It CAN happen to you, regardless of who you are or how you live.
9. If it happens, say “No!” This may seem like a no-brainer, but many victims don’t. Even if you don’t fight back (which may be best for your safety) saying no means you did not consent. Obviously, for those who are assaulted under the influence of drugs or alcohol this isn’t always an option, and to those victims, you shouldn’t feel responsible when you don’t object. Unwanted assault is still rape.
10. Once you can, go to a safe place.
11. Even though you will want to, DON’T shower. Crucial evidence against your assailant may be washed away.
12. Call 9-1-1. It’s hard, but reporting an assault is the first step in regaining control of your life.
13. Remember, it is NOT your fault if you are assaulted. It doesn’t matter how you are dressed, or how you act. Rape is an act of aggression and control over another person. Victims do nothing to warrant sexual attack
Now that you know, go, and have the time of your life this Spring Break. Keep your wits about you, stay focused on your safety, and bring the balance of the odds back into your favor.