We can all be victims of crime, but we can protect ourselves as well. It only takes a few seconds, but even you can become the victim of a crime, which can leave you feeling vulnerable, confused, physically injured, and/or mentally traumatized.
Reducing Your Risk
Crimes can happen almost anywhere, at all times of day, and to just about anyone. While the criminal justice system plays a role in preventing victimization through police patrols, neighborhood watch programs, public media campaigns, and community anti-gang violence programs, you are also a good resource for protecting yourself.
Protecting Your Living Space & Car
Here are a few tips to stay safe at home and in your car, as well as protect your valuables in these places:
- Don't open the door for people unless you are expecting them.
- Don't sleep with windows open if they are easy to access from outside the house.
- If possible, install security cameras at your front and back doors to monitor activity around the house.
- If possible, install an alarm system and put a sign in your yard indicating that the house is monitored.
- Ensure that your entryways are well lit; consider using sensor lights that are activated by movement.
- Use peep holes on your doors so you can look outside without opening the door.
- Lock doors and windows when you leave the house.
- Leave lights on when you are not home; set timers on lights if you will be gone for extended periods of time.
- If you live in an apartment complex, do not buzz people in unless you know and are expecting them.
- Don't investigate loud noises (such as breaking glass) yourself; call the police to have them investigate.
- Avoid using your full name on your mailbox.
- Carry a hand-held flashlight with you to navigate dark hallways.
- Lock car doors and keep valuables out of your vehicle.
- When driving, make sure doors are locked, especially at stoplights.
- If someone hits your car, pull over to a safe place to assess the damage and keep your keys with you.
Protecting Yourself Against Sexual Assault
Unfortunately, most sexual assaults are perpetrated by an attacker the victim knows, including friends, relatives, and authority figures, such as professors or work supervisors. The best way to protect yourself is to use your head. Be assertive. Make sure you communicate your desires and limits clearly.
- You always have the right to set sexual limits in any relationship.
- Be wary of behavior that makes you feel uncomfortable.
- Trust your instincts.
- If the behavior persists, leave and make sure you are not followed.
- If you are followed, go to a public area.
- If you feel you cannot comfortably leave, alert someone who you trust to the situation and ask them to keep an eye on you.
- Avoid excessive use of alcohol and other drugs in situations where you don't know and trust everyone.
- Never accept drinks from anyone unless you see them being poured.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Do not assume that you are always safe.
- Vary your routines whenever possible.
- Try not to walk alone at night. If you must, walk in lighted areas. Walk at a steady pace and look confident.
- Use the buddy system when going to parties.
- If you are in danger, scream, make noise, blow a whistle, or create any other commotion you can think of.
- Recognize when someone is too far under the influence to give consent.
- It is never too late for someone to change their mind or say "no"; respect their right to do so.
- An individual's attire or behavior is never the equivalent of coherent, verbal consetn.
- Always ask permission before pursuing any action that may be unwanted or unwelcome.
- If you feel you are too far under the influence to control your actions, remove yourself from the situation.
- Alcohol and/or drug influence is never an excuse for sexual assault or rape.