You can take an active role in increasing your safety or the safety of those you care about. While there's no way to eliminate the chance that something may happen, there are strategies that may reduce your risk or give you the confidence to step in to prevent Sexual Harassment.
Staying Safe on Campus
Being at BYU can give you a sense of security—a feeling that everyone knows each other and watches out for one another. While BYU has been named one of the safest campuses in the country, unfortunately there are perpetrators who take advantage of this feeling of safety and security to commit acts of sexual violence.
We can all take steps to increase safety on our campus. As bystanders, students can learn ways of stepping in to prevent crimes like sexual assault from occurring. When it comes to personal safety, there are steps you can take as well, and some of those tips are outlined below. No tips can absolutely guarantee safety—sexual violence can happen to anyone, and it’s not the only crime that can occur on campus. It’s important to remember that if you are sexually assaulted, it is not your fault. Help and support are available, and you can find more information here.
Increasing Your Safety
The following tips may reduce your risk for many different types of crimes, particularly sexual violence.
- Know your resources. Who should you contact if you or a friend needs help? Where should you go? Locate resources such as the campus health center, campus police station, and a local sexual assault service provider. Notice where emergency phones are located on campus, and program the campus security number into your cell phone for easy access.
- Stay alert. When you’re moving around on campus or in the surrounding neighborhoods, be aware of your surroundings. Consider inviting a friend to join you or asking campus security for an escort. University Police offer a "Safe Walk" program and can send an officer to escort you on campus if you are feeling unsafe. If you’re alone, only use headphones in one ear to stay aware of your surroundings.
- Be careful about posting your location. Many social media sites, like Facebook and Foursquare, use geolocation to publicly share your location. Consider disabling this function and reviewing other social media settings. Click here for tips on how to stay safe using social media.
- Make others earn your trust. A college environment can foster a false sense of security. You may feel like fast friends, but give people time to earn your trust before relying on them or meeting with them in private.
- Think about Plan B. Spend some time thinking about back-up plans for potentially sticky situations. If your phone dies, do you have a few numbers memorized to get help? Do you have emergency cash in case you can’t use a credit card? Do you have the address to your dorm or college memorized? If you drive, is there a spare key hidden, gas in your car, and a set of jumper cables?
- Be secure. Lock your door and windows when you’re asleep and when you leave the room. If people constantly prop open the main door to the dorm or apartment, tell your RA, hall advisor, or a trusted authority figure.
Safety in Social Settings
Yes, it's possible to relax and have a good time while still making safety a priority! Whether it's a party, a Family Home Evening activity, or meeting at Swig for drinks, consider these tips for staying safe and looking out for your friends in social settings.
- Make a plan. If you’re going out, go with people you trust. Agree to watch out for each other and plan to leave together. If your plans change, make sure to touch base with the other people in your group. Don’t leave someone stranded in an unfamiliar or unsafe situation.
- Protect your drink. Don’t leave your drink unattended, and watch out for your friends’ drinks if you can. If you go to the bathroom or step outside, take the drink with you or toss it out. Drink from unopened containers or drinks you watched being made and poured. It’s not always possible to know if something has been added to someone’s drink. In drug-facilitated sexual assault, a perpetrator could use a substance that has no color, taste, or odor.
- It’s okay to make something up. If you want to exit a situation immediately and are concerned about frightening or upsetting someone, it’s okay to lie. You are never obligated to remain in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, pressured, or threatened. You can also make something up to help a friend leave a situation that you think may be dangerous. Some excuses you could use are needing to take care of another friend or family member, an urgent phone call, not feeling well, and having to be somewhere else by a certain time.
- Be a good friend. Trust your instincts. If you notice something that doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Learn more about how to keep your friends safe in social settings.
Social Media Safety
What you choose to share on social media is always your decision, but what others choose to do with your information is not always be in your control. Take charge of your personal safety with the following social media safety tips.
Personalize your privacy settings. Adjust your privacy settings on the site to your comfort level, and select options that limit who can view your information. These site-specific security pages can help you get started.
- Pause before you post. Before you post, ask yourself if you are comfortable sharing this information with everyone who might see it. Once it’s posted online, it’s there forever. Even content that is deleted can sometimes be accessed by the website or through screenshots of the original post. Content that contains personal information or your whereabouts could pose a safety risk. Other posts may risk portraying you in a negative way, like pictures of partying or insults directed at a specific person or group.
- Turn off geolocation. Many social media sites or apps will request to access your location, but in most cases this isn’t necessary. You can still get the most out of your online or app experience without sharing where you are. In addition to accessing your location, some sites make this information public. When you “check in” on sites like Facebook or Foursquare, you are sharing your exact location with people you may or may not know.
- Use a private Internet connection. Avoid public Wi-Fi connections, like those offered at coffee shops or airports, when using a website that asks for a password. Limit your social media usage to personal or private Wi-Fi networks.
- Talk to your friends about public posts. Let your friends know where you stand on sharing content that may have personally identifying information, like your location or a photo of you. Respect each other’s wishes about deleting posts that may be embarrassing or uncomfortable. Before you post something about another person, whether it mentions them indirectly, by name, or in a picture, ask their permission.
- Report it. If someone is making you feel uncomfortable online you can report the interaction to the host site. You can use the “report” button near the chat window, flag a post as inappropriate, or submit a screenshot of the interaction directly to the host site.
Adapted from the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network