Although we cannot control the actions of others, we can take measures to keep ourselves safe. Here are a few tips to stay safe in both physical and virtual environments:
Know your resources. Who should you contact if you or a friend needs help? Where should you go? If you are experiencing an immediate threat of harm or danger, call 911 first. If you find yourself in dangerous or compromising situations on campus, you can contact campus security at (801)524-2771 for assistance and support. You might consider putting this number in your contacts on your personal phone.
Stay Alert. When you are walking around on campus, as well as to and from campus, be aware of your surroundings. Avoid being alone. If you do find yourself alone, consider things like using headphones in only one ear so you can hear and respond appropriately to the environment around you. Avoid locations that are secluded, and void of other people.
Think about Plan B. Spend some time thinking about back-up plans for potentially sticky situations. If your phone dies, do you have a few numbers memorized to get help? Do you have emergency cash in case you can’t use a credit card? Do you have the address to your dorm or college memorized? If you drive, is there a spare key hidden, gas in your car, and a set of jumper cables?
Be cautious with new relationships. Do you respond to ads online or use social media and dating apps to meet new people? If so, be very cautious. Don’t go alone. Meet in public places. It takes time to build healthy relationships and to truly get to know an individual. When dating someone new, arrange group or double dates to give you time to get to know the individual well. Make sure your friends and/or family members know with whom you are meeting, where, and when. Never accept a ride from someone you do not know.
Lock up. Lock your car and residence doors even when you are in the car or at home. This will reduce the risk of having unwanted visitors.
Make a plan. If you’re going out, go with people you trust. Agree to watch out for each other and plan to leave together. If your plans change, make sure to touch base with the other people in your group. Don’t leave someone stranded in an unfamiliar or unsafe situation.
Protect your drink. In social settings, don’t leave your drink unattended, and watch out for your friends’ drinks if you can. If you go to the bathroom or step outside, take the drink with you or toss it out. Drink from unopened containers or drinks you watched being made and poured. It’s not always possible to know if something has been added to someone’s drink. In drug facilitated sexual assault, a perpetrator could use a substance that has no color, taste, or odor.
It’s okay to make something up. If you want to exit a situation immediately and are concerned about frightening or upsetting someone, it’s okay to lie. You are never obligated to remain in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, pressured, or threatened. You can also make something up to help a friend leave a situation that you think may be dangerous. Some excuses you could use are needing to take care of another friend or family member, an urgent phone call, not feeling well, and having to be somewhere else by a certain time.
Stay safe online. What you choose to share on social media is completely up to you, but how others use what you share isn’t always in your control. Take charge of your personal safety by following these tips:
- Adjust your privacy settings to your comfort level. Maybe you don’t want a public account where everyone can see your photos.
- Pause before you post. Are you comfortable with others seeing this? Does it indicate your location and do you feel okay with that?
- Turn off geolocation on apps where it isn’t necessary. That is if you don’t want people you don’t know to know your location.
- Let your friends know how you feel about public posts and respect others’ decisions if they don’t want you to share photos of them.
- Use a private Internet connection. Avoid public Wi-Fi connections, like those offered at coffee shops or airports, when using a website that asks for a password. Limit your social media usage to personal or private Wi-Fi networks.
- Report it. If someone is making you feel uncomfortable online you can report the interaction to the host site. You can use the “report” button near the chat window, flag a post as inappropriate, or submit a screenshot of the interaction directly to the host site.
Follow your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, chances are, it’s not. Pay attention to your feelings, and respond to them appropriately.