BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – According to the Rain Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN), every 68 seconds another American is sexually assaulted.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adds that one in four women and about one in 26 men have been victims of rape or attempted rape. The agency also states that, “women and racial and ethnic minority groups experience a higher burden of sexual violence.”

Some may find such statistics so shocking that they’re inclined to dismiss them.

But for the sake of one’s own safety, it can be beneficial to remember that crimes of sexual violence are frequent and can happen to anyone.

Though authorities don’t want anyone to live in fear, they do encourage citizens to take precautions that may help reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim.

That said, should a sexual assault occur, this doesn’t mean the victim is to blame. And the suggestions listed below aren’t meant to infer such a notion.

How communities can help

There are precautions that the CDC and related organization recommend for communities. These typically involve:

  • Teaching boys and men to act as allies when they witness an attempted assault
  • Teaching teens about healthy relationship/dating skills
  • Improving safety and monitoring in schools
  • Teaching people not to participate in behavior that degrades or stereotypes girls and women
  • Teaching people to immediately interrupt and shut down jokes about sexual assault
  • Reducing images of violence against women in advertising, pornography, and other forms of media.
  • Strengthening leadership and opportunities for girls
  • Strengthening economic supports for women
  • Creating more victim-centered services
  • Consistently applying related workplace policies
Image Credit: CDC

Precautions an individual can take

Hold on to your drink – If you’re at a bar, club, or party, don’t leave you drink unattended. If it’s out of your sight, even for just a few minutes, get a new one. Along those lines, only accept drinks from other people if you’re able to watch the bartender pour it.

Tell a friend where you’re going – If you’re going out alone or meeting someone you don’t know well for a date, it may be a good idea to tell a trusted friend where you’ll be. Just in case an emergency arises, bring your phone with you and make sure it’s charged.

If someone crosses a line, firmly state your limits – As soon as someone becomes aggressive or crosses a line that you’ve set for yourself, tell them firmly and early. Firmness is key because a polite request to be left alone might be misunderstood or ignored. If the person doesn’t respect your wishes, immediately remove yourself from the situation. If necessary, push the person away or take other physical action that will allow you to leave.

AT HOME

  • Make sure all windows and doors in your home are locked securely and keep entrances well lit.
  • Before letting any unknown sales or service person into your home, check their identification.
  • If you do your laundry off-site, try to do so during an active time of day when you won’t be in the laundromat alone.
  • If you come home alone and see a door/ window open or signs of forced entry, immediately call the police and leave your house.

WHILE WALKING

  • Be aware of your surroundings and the people around you.
  • Stay in well-lit areas.
  • Walk confidently at a steady pace on the side of the street facing traffic and stay close to the curb. Try to avoid doorways, bushes, and alleys.
  • If you are find yourself in danger, yell for help, or even scream,”Fire!”
  • If you feel you’re being followed, walk into a store or other public place with people. 

WHILE DRIVING

  • Keep your car well maintained and the gas tank at least half full.
  • Park in well-lit areas and lock the doors, even if you’ll only be gone a short time.
  • When you return to your car, have the key ready and check the front and rear seats and floor before getting in.
  • Drive with all the doors locked.
  • Never pick up hitchhikers.
  • If you have a flat , drive on it until you reach a safe well-lighted and well-traveled area.
  • Use extra caution in enclosed parking garages.
  • If you are being followed, don’t drive home. Go to the nearest police or fire station and honk your horn. Or drive to an open gas station or other public place with people where you can safely call the police from the safety of your car.

For more information about how to prevent sexual violence, it may be helpful to refer to The Women and Families Center’s website.

Anyone who’s experienced sexual assault and needs assistance can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or reach out to Baton Rouge’s Sexual Trauma Awareness & Response (STAR) program at (225) 615-7093.