Arming yourself with knowledge

There are 11,883 female students at Oakland University this fall — about 2,377 of them will be sexually victimized while earning their degree.

According to the White House’s “1 is 2 Many” campaign against dating violence, one in five women will be a victim of sexual assault while they are in college.

This issue may seem like a distant, irrelevant one, but the truth is it’s a growing problem.

Just under two weeks ago a flier entitled “The Top 10 Ways to Get Away with Rape” was found in a men’s bathroom on the campus of Ohio’s Miami University. You may think these issues don’t affect you but guess again.

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, the nations largest anti-sexual violence organization, those who are college-aged  are at the highest risk of sexual assault and often by someone they know.

Last week, OU welcomed women’s basketball coach Beckie Francis to speak on the subject. Francis was a victim of sexual assault at the hand of her father when she was a child.

After heavy research everywhere from Cosmopolitan, to wikiHow and RAINN, I could throw more knee-weakening statistics at you, but I’d like to share my compilation of the best ways to avoid sexual assault.


Rethink weapons

Do not carry anything on you — mace, pepper spray, or even a pocketknife or handgun — unless you are thoroughly educated on its use. The simplest thing, used absent-mindedly and in a panic can easily be obtained and used against you.

Instead of carrying something, use what you were born with — vocal cords. Scream your heart out. Make yourself known. An attacker will not want to be identified.

For help, yell “CALL 911,” “POLICE,” or “GUN.” Bystanders will more than likely be confused when they hear “RAPE,” and yelling out “FIRE,” like you’ve probably been told to do so before, can just add to the confusion.

If you are attacked, do your best to leave identifying marks. A bite mark can make it a lot easier for police to identify an attacker.


Be prepared

If you are a freshman or if you live on campus, do some exploring during the day. Map out the safest, best-lit route back to your dorm or car. Do the same with any instance off campus. Parking garages and parking lots can be the easiest target for a predator.

Get a routine down. Searching through your purse or fumbling with your keys at your door gives an attacker the opportunity to come up behind you, push you inside and lock the door behind the two of you.

If you are shoved into your car and are told to drive, don’t listen to them. Drive into something large and safe. Your seatbelt and the airbags will protect you, and the crash is sure to cause attention.

Always make sure your phone is charged before you go out. It is going to be your best bet out of a situation — text your friends to pick you up from a bad date, or make sure someone always knows where you are when you go out and when you expect to be home.


Trust your instinct

Go with your gut — honestly — this is the most important thing. If a guy is giving you the creeps, don’t be afraid to leave a situation that you are uncomfortable with. Also, don’t be afraid to lie about it — fabricating a story may give you an easy out. Get out of there and get home, safely.

In the end, knowledge is protection, so arm yourself. You may feel safe making your late night trek across campus to your car armed with your keychain-sized pink bottle of pepper spray, but what would you do if the situation actually presented itself?

If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, help is always available. RAINN operates the national sexual assault helpline 24/7 at 1-800-656-HOPE or online at