Sexual assault is NEVER the victim's fault. It doesn't matter what the person was wearing, where they were located, what time of day, or even if they were drinking or flirting. The fact of the matter is that sexual assault is ALWAYS the fault of the perpetrator. We always believe survivors and support Survivors and we NEVER blame survivors of sexual assault and violence.
Unfortunately, it is important to think about our surroundings and take measures to protect ourselves from predators. Here are a few important tips:
You have heard it before--Don't put yourself in a position of being alone with someone you don't know or know only casually, but we want to acknowledge that many times people are assaulted by people they know. Because of this, we recommend you go with your gut. If you are uncomfortable with someone--don't be alone with them. When dating we recommend sticking to dating in public places for a while until you know them better. Even if someone you know crosses the line, it's not your fault.
Don't give personal information out online or to someone you have just met. Always be aware that despite their appearance, someone may want to take advantage. Sometimes people are taken advantage of because of their helpful demeanor. Don't assume that requests for physical help or financial assistance are legitimate.
In your car: Keep your doors locked at all times. 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. Don't pick up hitchhikers.
At Home: You should feel safe in your own home, but it's best to take precautions. Keep your doors locked at all times even if you leave for just a moment. Use initials rather than your first name on your mailbox or in the telephone directory. Leave your radio, television, or a light on while you are out. Know your neighbors, so you are aware if someone suspicious is hanging around.
On the phone: Avoid giving out your contact information or confirming your telephone number to someone you don't know. Don't post your phone number online. If you use voicemail, doon't discuss living arrangements. Always report any obscene phone calls to the telephone company and any personal threats you receive to the police. Be sure that your smartphone apps have any location components disabled on every app so that you don't inadvertently share your location.
Outdoors: Avoid walking or jogging alone at night; if you do, follow well-lit, well-traveled routes and vary your time and rate. Carry protective gear such as mace or a whistle. Avoid conversations with strangers. Do not allow yourself to be cornered. Never hitchhike. If you frequent recreational places do not leave the building alone in the dark. Many gyms or community centers are willing to have staff walk you to your car.
Remember that in any of the cases presented above, should you consent to having someone in your home, car, or sharing personal information with them, this is not equal to consent for any other activity. If you find you have trusted someone and given them personal access, you can always take that access away and say "no" to physical touch, sex, or any other activity. If someone has not respected your NO, please call our crisis line at 706-419-8775.
Stalking is the harassment or persecution of an individual with unwanted or obsessive attention. Often times behavior appears innocent: showing up at the your location, frequent calls, or unwanted attention. Many times survivors brush off this attention as repetitive or awkward. If you are being stalked, it is important to call it what it is and take it seriously. Stalking is illegal in all fifty states and the District of Colombia. If you are being stalked, it is important that you report the behavior as soon as possible and have a network of safe people that you can talk to, a safe place to go, and a plan of action.