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How can I lower my risk of sexual assault?

Bonnie Lynn Wright, PhD
Geriatrics Nursing
Sexual assault occurs with friends and family as well, not just from strangers while out of your home. The thought of having to be cautious in places where you should be safe is unsettling in the extreme. Unfortunately it is a reality. You may also not feel that telling is an option because it would upset the family dynamics. So protect yourself at all times. Whenever you get a bad 'vibe' from a friend or family member, keep it light but back away to a part of the gathering where others are around you. That sense of discomfort is your personal radar. Pay attention to it. If an assaultive behaviour comes out of the blue with no radar alert, make all the noise you can and leave immediately. Hopefully, a friend or family member will not want anyone else to know what they have in mind so they will stop targeting you.

There are things you can do to reduce your chances of being sexually assaulted. Follow these tips from the National Crime Prevention Council:

Be aware of your surroundings — who's out there and what's going on.
Walk with confidence. The more confident you look, the stronger you appear.
Know your limits when it comes to using alcohol.
Be assertive — don't let anyone violate your space.
Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in your surroundings, leave.
Don't prop open self-locking doors.
Lock your door and your windows, even if you leave for just a few minutes.
Watch your keys. Don't lend them. Don't leave them. Don't lose them. And don't put your name and address on the key ring.
Watch out for unwanted visitors. Know who's on the other side of the door before you open it.
Be wary of isolated spots, like underground garages, offices after business hours, and apartment laundry rooms.
Avoid walking or jogging alone, especially at night. Vary your route. Stay in well-traveled, well-lit areas.
Have your key ready to use before you reach the door — home, car, or work.
Park in well-lit areas and lock the car, even if you'll only be gone a few minutes.
Drive on well-traveled streets, with doors and windows locked.
Never hitchhike or pick up a hitchhiker.
Keep your car in good shape with plenty of gas in the tank. In case of car trouble, call for help on your cellular phone. If you don't have a phone, put the hood up, lock the doors, and put a banner in the rear mirror that says, "Help. Call police."

The answer is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information Center.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.