EducationFeminismHigher Education

Towards Better Sexual Assault Prevention Tips?

It is no secret that colleges and universities are paying more attention to sexual assault on their campuses. This school year, The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act went into effect with a look towards better prevention and accountability for instances of campus sexual assault. The media and opinionated onlookers have weighed the pros and cons of new policies, but how much has really changed on the ground? In at least one instance, it seems not much is different.

Students, faculty, and staff are familiar with a campus-wide emails that deal with safety tips and crime prevention. April in particular was Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so once might expect a typical April safety bulletin to focus on that. A typical safety bulletin on a college campus might look something like this:

Sexual assault is a crime of power and control – not sexual desire. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, approximately 67 percent of all sexual assaults/rapes were committed by friends, acquaintances, spouses, significant others and relatives. Only 33 percent were committed by strangers. The following information can help you to avoid being a victim of sexual assault.

  • Always let someone know where you are and where you are going.
  • When going on a date, have an idea of where you are going and be suspicious of sudden changes to the plan. Let someone know if your original location is changed.
  • Get your own drinks and don’t accept drinks from other people, except someone you know and trust.
  • Never leave your drink unattended. If you leave your drink unattended for any reason, do not drink from it when you return. Obtain a fresh drink.
  • Trust your instincts.
  • If you ever feel uneasy on campus, request a Police Escort.
  • Be alert to your surroundings.
  • Visually scan the area while walking by looking 360 degrees around you (side to side and front to back).
  • Stay vigilant, even when talking on your cell phone.
  • Walk with confidence. Criminals look for someone who appears vulnerable, lost or uncertain of themselves.
  • Walk towards on-coming traffic so a car can’t ease up behind you.
  • Don’t walk alone at night.
  • Keep your residence, room and vehicle doors locked, even when you are inside.
  • Park in well-lit areas.
  • Be prepared by having your car or residence keys in hand as you approach the door.
  • Do not hitchhike or accept rides from strangers.
  • Do not pick up hitchhikers or offer rides to strangers.
  • If in danger, scream and run. Yelling “fire” or “you’re not my mommy” can draw more attention than yelling “help”.

Remember that alcohol and drugs can impair your judgment and your ability to act responsibly. Also, wearing earphones connected to CD players, portable radios, i-Pods, etc. while walking can distract you, reduce your ability to hear peripheral noises and significantly decrease your ability to sense potential danger.

If you are sexually assaulted, immediately go to a safe place and report the incident, as time is a critical factor for evidence collection and preservation. Do not shower, bathe, use sanitary products, use the restroom, change clothes or touch anything the suspect may have touched. If you do not feel comfortable contacting the police, additional assistance can be obtained by contacting … <various contacts redacted>

Now, I’m not one to tell someone to not take precautions whenever possible. I was raised to be extremely aware of my surroundings and always take precautions. However, This, like many, many, many other lists of “sexual assault prevention tips” focus on only one thing, the victim. Maybe it’s too much to hope for rape prevention tips to look something more like this, putting the blame where the blame belongs:


By the people over at and

Is it to much to ask to include at least SOME of these types of tips? Don’t we want our students to NOT feel like victims if they are assaulted? Isn’t that the point of all of these new campaigns and policies?

And, FFS, are we really encouraging grown women and men to yell, “You’re not my mommy!” if they are being attacked?

Lets not take too long to change the culture of our campuses. Our students and colleagues deserve better.

Thanks to Daniela at Skepchick for pointing out the amazing 10 Tips image.

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Nicole is a professor, astronomer, educator, geek, dog mom, occasional fitness nerd, and maker of tiny comets. She is also very loud under the right circumstances. Like what you read? Buy me a coffee:

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