10 Ways to Protect Yourself from Predators on Campus

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It’s easy to assume safety and happiness are givens on a college campus, especially if you have yet to experience anything else. However, approximately one in four women survive being raped or a rape attempt while in college, and walking anywhere alone at night can have its own risks. Protecting yourself doesn’t have to be difficult or make you look paranoid. Double-checking yourself and your surroundings doesn’t take much energy (especially if it will prevent wrecking yourself). “[Safety] should start with the students themselves,” said Anthony Cadogan, an instructor and trainer for the Rape Aggression Defense program aka (R.A.D.) at Boston College.

  1. Take a self-defense class. Boston College, and many other schools, offers the R.A. D. class with Cadogan, which teaches both some basic practices, such as those listed here, but also physical moves that would be useful in self-defense. If you’re really pinched for time and can’t commit to a class, give Miss Congeniality another watch and remember, S.I.N.G.!
  2. When concerned if someone is following you, promptly switch directions, but keep track sufficiently enough that you still know where you’re going. If the possible predator is still behind you, get to a public place. And most importantly, never be afraid to call for help.
  3. Have your keys at the ready when approaching a door. Consistent motion to and from somewhere safe lowers any possibility of predatory action. It’s harder to catch someone who’s moving than someone standing still. Boom, science.
  4. This is a hard one: Present a look of self-assurance. The more self-assured you look the less you appear a possible victim. A confident person looks ready to protect himself if necessary. Think about it: who’s more likely to get robbed, the woman with a zipped purse close to her side, or the girl dropping cash out of her exposed pockets?
  5.  Don’t take short cuts through dark sketchy places. Duh. When out late, getting home fastest is what matters most to many. However, stay in well-lit public places. Crime in such location is far less likely. One review found that crime decreased by 21% in places that had more street lights set up
  6. Don’t tell other people the gate code for your apartment or the combination to your room. This can be annoying considering how awesome friends are and how useful it can be for them to be able to enter the room by themselves, but in the grand scheme of things it’s probably not terribly inconvenient to get up and answer the door, especially if it keeps other, less-welcome visitors out. The same goes for doors that lead to the outdoors. “Never prop the dorm room doors so that anyone can walk in,” said Cadogan.
  7. When possible, walk with someone else. This should happen anyway, due to nice things such as bonding with people (and assurance against losing your way). Remember learning the buddy system in second grade? It’s an oldie but goodie.
  8. This is maybe the hardest: Stay alert when you’re walking places. Cut it out with the headphones. Headphones lessen your ability to hear and take your attention away from your surroundings. Cadogan said to ask yourself if you can hear traffic. Same for the texting and walking. “Not only is it dangerous but you are advertising your nice cell phone to the potential thief,” said Cadogan.
  9. If concerned about someone’s approach, be LOUD. Statements such “Stay back!” and “No!” both act as statements made directly to the predator and as a way to alert anyone around to your situation.
  10. The BC police give one major key that should be the easiest and yet is among the least utilized: Trust your instincts. It’s easy to assure yourself that you’re fine and you’re just imagining things. But trust yourself and leave the situation if something is making you uneasy. You’ll feel better going with your gut than sticking around and making things uncomfortable for yourself.

A senior at Boston College and an English major with an addiction to fantasy novels and chocolate.

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