Tips for College Students and Their Parents

Going off to college is a wonderful time in a young person’s life, and we want them to grow and learn, but we also want them to be safe. Unless a recently graduated 18-year-old is highly disciplined and academically driven, parties will be high on their list of college memory-makers.

However, it’s important to note that 1 in 4 college-aged women (18-24 years old), are at the highest risk of rape, and alcohol is a factor in almost all the sexual off-to-collegeassaults on college campuses. It’s important to talk to college freshmen about staying safe.

Most colleges have an orientation for incoming freshmen, many welcome parents to attend. The first thing to ask at orientation is to see a copy of the school’s sexual assault policy, and ask how many reports of sexual assault they had in the last year (or the past several years). If they cannot produce their policy and say they had no reports – that’s a red flag! An institution should always be aware of the number of reports AND be able to speak to their policies and procedures, and give emergency numbers and information to incoming students.

Rape or sexual assault can happen to anyone, woman or man, and it’s never the victim’s fault. It’s important to know that there’s no absolute way to prevent sexual assault, but it helps to think about how you can stay safe. Many perpetrators of sexual assault are someone the victim knows. Sexual assaults can happen at a party or on a date. Here are some tips for anyone who has recently graduated from high school:

 Tips for Partying Smart

1. Stick with your friends.

2. Make a plan before you go out. Set up checkpoints or code words to make it easy for you and your friends to stay connected.

3. Hold on to your drink—even when you go to the bathroom.

4. If your drink is out of your sight, even for a few seconds, get a new one. Spiking a drink with a date rape drug can happen quickly.

5. Don’t accept a drink from anyone—unless you can watch it being poured.

6. Don’t share drinks.

7. Don’t drink from punch bowls or open containers.

8. Don’t drink anything that tastes strange.

9. Avoid clubs or parties that charge men but let women enter and drink for free.

10. Always keep your cell phone charged and on you. You never know when you’ll need it.

11. Make sure you always have a ride home or a plan to walk home with a friend or roommate.

12. Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right to you, leave and get to a safe place immediately.

Tips for Dating Smart

1. Know your limits—and let your date know them right from the start.

2. Be clear about what’s okay for you. Don’t expect your date to read your mind.

3. Trust your gut. If you feel uncomfortable, leave.

4. Don’t get in over your head. If someone pushes you to do something you don’t want to do, you have the right to say NO and leave.

5. Stay in control. Alcohol is the most common date-rape drug.

6. Tell a friend where you are going, especially if you’re going out on a first date or a blind date.

7. Avoid secluded places until you know your date better.

8. Always charge your cell phone and keep it on you.

9. Always carry enough money to take a taxi home.

10. Pay attention to what you hear. A person may have a bad reputation for a reason.

Ways to Prevent Sexual Violence –

For Women and Men


1. Be aware of your surroundings.

There is a higher chance of avoiding sexual assault just by being aware of what and who is around you. Being cautious and alert can only be to your benefit.

2. Know your sexual desires and limits.

Believe in your right to set those limits

3. Communicate your limits as clearly as possible.

If someone starts to offend you, tell him early and firmly. Be firm and assertive. Say “no” when you mean “no” and be prepared to repeat it.

4. Dress comfortably.

Dress as you please. However, non-restrictive clothing could be an advantage. No one should think that when a woman dresses provocatively she is giving permission to be sexually violated. Nobody asks to be sexually violated or raped, but to be aware that if someone ignores your limits and assertiveness, you want to be able to run and fight back if needed.

5. Avoid excessive use of alcohol and drugs.

Alcohol and drugs interfere with clear thinking and effective communication.


1. Know your sexual desires and limits, communicate them clearly.

Be aware of social pressures. There is nothing wrong with not scoring.

2. Being turned down when you ask for sex is not a rejection of you personally.

Women who say “No” to sex are not rejecting the person; they are expressing their desire to not participate in a single act. Your desires may be beyond your control but your actions are within your control.

3. Accept the woman’s decision.

“No” means “No.” Don’t read other meanings into the answer. Don’t continue after “NO!”

4. Do not assume that just because a woman dresses in a sexy manner and flirts that she wants to have sexual intercourse.

5. Do not assume that previous permission for sexual contact applies to the current situation.

6. Do not encourage her to drink more just to take advantage of the situation.

Ways to Prevent Rape

Rape is not just an act committed in a dark alley by an unknown assailant. The truth is that most rapes occur in the victim’s home. About 60% of victims who report their rape know their assailants.

It is possible, however, to be aware without being afraid. Thinking and talking about the different types of sexual assault, and what you might do if you ever find yourself in a bad situation, can increase your chances of avoiding Rape.

• Always walk briskly; look alert and confident, avoid carrying objects requiring us of both arms.

• Stay away from isolated areas, day or night.

• Never walk alone when it is dark.

• If you are being followed, get away fast, change directions, and walk or run to a crowded area.

• Lock all doors to your car and residence at all times.

• Before you drive home, call your roommate, family or a friend so they will expect you and be aware if you are excessively late.

• Encourage group activities in early stages of a relationship.

• Take a self-defense class.

• Be aware of legislation that concerns your gender and contact legislators to express your views.

What to do in a Risky Situation

• Stay calm, consider your options and how safe it would be to resist.

• Say “NO” strongly. Do not smile; do not act polite or friendly.

• Say something like “Stop it. This is Rape!” This might shock the rapist into stopping.

• If the rapist is unarmed, fight back physically, shout “NO!” and run away as soon as possible.

What to do in Case of Rape

• Get to a safe place.

• Call a friend or family member to be with you.

• Breathe deeply and remind yourself that you are of value, and that what has happened is wrong and in no way your fault.

• Call the police. A crime has been committed.

• Do not bathe, douche or change clothes. You may be destroying legal evidence, regardless of whether you pursue legal action or not.

• Go to a hospital emergency department for medical care. This can be done without police intervention, if that is your choice.

• Write down as much as you can remember about the circumstance of the assault and the identity of your assailant.

• Seek the counseling and legal assistance from a rape treatment center. The counselor there can help you deal with the consequences of an assault.

Reporting the assault is a way of regaining your sense of personal power and control. It enables you to actively protest the violent crime that has been committed against you.

Reporting and prosecuting the assailant are essential in establishing new norms that this behavior is NOT okay. Taking legal steps helps prevent rape and protect other potential victims.

How to Help a Friend

• Believe your friend. A few people are going to act as if your friend has lied or done something wrong. She/he will need your support.

• Listen carefully and do not laugh. People often laugh if they are embarrassed or nervous.

• Help your friend to report the rape to someone who can help – a counselor, school nurse, parent, child protective service worker, teacher, or police officer.

• Let your friend know it is not her/his fault. People who have been touched inappropriately often feel that they have done something wrong.

• Be confidential and protect your friend’s privacy. Talk to a trusted adult if this situation is bothering you.

• Be verbal in letting your friend know that you care and that you support her/him and whatever choice they make.

Dating Violence

Myth: Abuse means physically hurting someone.

Fact: Abuse does not only mean physically hurting someone. Abuse also includes hurting someone psychologically/emotionally, verbally or sexually. Dating violence is aggressive, abusive and controlling behavior.

A Few Warning Signs That Your Date

May Have an Abusive Behavior



Bad tempered/easily angered

Isolates you from your friends or family

Blames others for his/her problems

Threatens force or violence

Uses force during arguments

Verbally abusive

Is Your Relationship Unhealthy?

Ask Yourself These Questions

Are you afraid of your partner?

Does your partner choose who you hang out with?

Is your partner making decisions for you?

Does your partner humiliate you?

Has your partner’s jealousy limited your independence?

Has your partner ever kicked or punched or slapped you?

Are you afraid your partner may do these things?

Answering “yes” to these questions is a definite sign of an unhealthy relationship.

Ways to Prevent Dating Violence

• Consider double dates or being with a group when first going out.

• When going out, let a friend or parent know when you will be back. Tell your date that you have done this so he/she will acknowledge someone is expecting you back at a certain time.

• Be assertive and direct. Be able to be straightforward about what you want, like or dislike in a relationship. Having these goals or plans will help create a positive outlook on the relationship.

Help is Available

Remember that no one deserves to be abused or threatened. Turn to someone you can trust such as a friend, teacher, family member, a counselor or nurse at Health Services or the local rape crisis center whose resources are there to specifically help you.

Help Someone Else

If you know someone who might be in an abusive relationship:

• Tell them you are worried.

• Be a good listener.

• Ask how you can help them to seek help.

• Encourage them to call the local crisis center whose resources are there to specifically help them.