Sexual Assault Risk Reduction

It may not be possible for victims to prevent an attacker from committing a crime. It is never the victim’s fault when he or she is attacked. There are, however, some risk-reducing behaviours that may help protect individuals from becoming victims.

If you are feeling it’s unfair to have to think about safety tips all the time, you are right. However, it is important that you keep yourself as safe as possible. Many sexual assault survivors say they had a “funny feeling” before the assault, but they thought they were overreacting. Alcohol or drugs may suppress these feelings, too. If your intuition tells you that something is wrong, or if you feel threatened or uncomfortable in any situation, try to get to a safe place as soon as possible.

In General:

  • Be wary of behaviour that makes you feel uncomfortable.
  • Trust your instincts: If an individual makes you feel uncomfortable, find a safe place to remove yourself from the situation.
  • You always have the right to set sexual limits in any relationship.
  • Avoid excessive use of alcohol and other drugs.
  • Be aware of what’s going on around you.
  • Educate yourself, your friends, and family members about sexual assault.
  • Communicate your boundaries/limits clearly. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, tell him or her early and firmly. Say “No” when you mean “No”.
  • Take a look at the people around you and be wary of anyone who puts you down, or tries to control how you dress or your choice of friends.

On the Streets:

  • Try not to walk alone at night. If you must do so, walk in lighted areas and at a steady pace, looking confident.
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times; even in areas that are you consider “safe."
  • It is not necessary to stop and be polite when a stranger or slight acquaintance asks question in a public place.
  • Keep one hand free when carrying packages.
  • Avoid dark, empty places.
  • Listen for footsteps. Turn around if you think you are being followed and check. If you think you are, cross the street and go quickly to the nearest area where there are other people.
  • Have door and car keys ready before you get home
  • Avoid walking alone if you are distracted, upset, or under the influence of any substance which may impair your action

Beverage Safety:

  • Never accept beverages, including non-alcoholic ones, from someone not known or trusted well.
  • Keep track of your drink wherever you might be at the time.
  • Never leave your drink unattended; get a new one if you do.
  • Never drink from open beverage containers, including punch bowls at parties.
  • In a bar or restaurant, accept drinks only from the bartender or wait-staff.
  • Watch out for your friends. If someone appears disproportionately drunk for the amount of alcohol consumed, be concerned and closely monitor the person’s behaviour.