Teach Teen Girls to Avoid Rape
The belief that most rapes occur at the hands of a faceless stranger in a dark alley couldn’t be further from the truth. Most rapes involve someone the victim knows. Unfortunately, date rape is far too common among teenagers. It is very important that parents discuss sexual violence and date rape with their teens. Parents should cover these basic ideas:
- Explain that date rape is when somebody you know—a boyfriend or girlfriend, a friend, a classmate, or even someone you just met—uses coercion (including drugs or alcohol), violence, or threats to force or pressure you into unwanted oral, vaginal, or anal sex.
- Make it clear that your teen should not accept any form of violence and that sexual violence is never their fault. Two common rape myths perpetuated in our culture are that a rape victim did something wrong or that she was “asking for it” – don’t let her fall for these ridiculous rationalizations.
- Warn your teen about Rohypnol, the “date rape” drug, and make her aware that this drug is colorless, odorless and will make her inhibitions low in a matter of minutes.
- Encourage your teen to make a pact with her girlfriends to watch out for each other.
- Make it clear, without a doubt, that your teen can come to you for help in ANY situation.
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, has put together a list of safety tips to help young women stay safe, minimize risk, and protect herself from situations that have the potential to become dangerous. The following tips are from RAINN:
- Trust your instincts and be yourself. If you feel unsafe, or even uncomfortable, in any situation, go with your gut. Don’t worry about what others think; your own safety comes first.
- Stick with your friends and watch out for each other. If you attend a party, arrive together, check in with one another frequently throughout the night, and leave together. Think twice about going off alone or with someone, and if, for whatever reason, you have to separate from your friends, let them know where you are going and who you are with.
- Use your cell phone as a tool. Make sure it’s fully charged before you leave home, and if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, shoot a quick text for a “friend-assist.” Make a plan before you go out just in case your phone dies, so you can meet up with your friends at a specific location at a certain time. You might consider coming up with a “keyword” with a friend so that they will know if you are in trouble. You should have phone numbers of people you can trust (sibling, parent, neighbor, etc.) to call in an emergency.
- Be careful when leaving “status” or “away” messages online and when using the “check-in” feature on Facebook or Foursquare. Leaving information about your whereabouts reveals details that are accessible to everyone. Use common sense so that someone can’t track your every move. If you wouldn’t give the information to a stranger, then don’t put it on your online profile.
- Wait for people to earn your trust. Don’t assume people you’ve just met will look out for your best interests; remember that they are essentially strangers.
- Don’t be afraid to hurt someone’s feelings. If you find yourself in an unsafe situation it’s alright to make up an excuse as to why you have to go. It’s better to make up a reason to leave than to stay in a possibly dangerous situation. Your safety comes before someone else’s feelings.
- If you see something, say something! Intervene if a situation seems questionable or if someone’s safety is at risk. By taking action, you can prevent a crime from being committed. Remember, you can also contact a trusted adult or the police if you do not feel that it is safe for you to step in.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. Despite widespread publicity about “date rape” drugs, alcohol remains the most common substance associated with sexual assault, according to law enforcement officials. You should avoid alcohol so that you are thinking completely logically. Also, do NOT accept drinks from people who you don’t know or trust, and never leave your drink unattended. If you have left your drink alone, get a new one. Always watch your drink being prepared. At parties, stick to drinks you got or prepared yourself instead of common open containers like punch bowls.
- Watch out for your friends. If a friend seems out of it, or is acting out of character, get him or her to a safe place. If you suspect that you or a friend has been drugged, call 911. Be explicit with doctors so they can administer the correct tests. If a friend seems under pressure from someone, make up an excuse why you all need to leave.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Whether you’re walking home from the library or at a party, be mindful of potential risks. Get to know your surroundings and learn a well-lit route to safe places. Think of a safe exit strategy. Are there people around who might be able to help you? Is there a business or home you can go to along your route?