Protecting Yourself

Let's be clear, if you are sexually assaulted, IT IS NEVER YOUR FAULT. The person who harmed you is the one responsible for the assault. On this page are things everyone can do to increase awareness and reduce the likelihood that someone else will take advantage of a situation for their own control.

When going out:
  • Trust your instincts: Trust that gut feeling. If you feel unsafe or uneasy in a situation, always trust your instincts. 

  • Go in a group and watch out for your friends. When you go to a social gathering, go with a group of friends, check in with each other throughout the night, and leave together. Don’t be afraid to let your friends know you’re worried about their safety.

  • Lock your door. If you live on campus, close your door and always take your key card when you leave -- even if it is just to go down the hall.

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Always know where you are and where you could go for help if you were to need it. Stay in areas that are well lit and populated.

  • Carry your cell and some cash. Before you leave your housing, make sure you have your phone and that it is charged. Also, it is important to carry some cash in case you need cab/bus fare or gas for your car.

  • Only place one bud in your ear. This will allow you to be more aware of your surroundings, especially if you are walking alone. 

When alcohol is present

You should never feel pressured to drink. Not drinking is always an option for you, at any time. (It is the only legal option for those under the age of 21.)

If you choose to drink, follow these guidelines to reduce your risk:

  • Listen to your body: Think about whether or not you want to drink before you go out. Even if you choose to drink one day it doesn't mean you need to choose to drink the next. Only do what feels comfortable and right for you.

  • Get comfortable saying no: If you are offered a drink and don't want one say, “no thanks.” It is always OK to say “no.” Listen to your body.

  • Eat and hydrate: Drinking on an empty stomach can make you intoxicated faster. Before going out, have something to drink. And while you are drinking, alternate an alcoholic beverage with a non-alcoholic drink.

  • Know what you are drinking: Be sure you watch it being poured and keep it with you. Avoid taking drinks from large punch bowls or other open containers where you don’t know what was mixed in or how much. 

  • Spread drinks out: The body can metabolize about one drink per hour. Spread your drinks out over a period of time to give your body a chance to keep up.

  • Don't mix alcohol with other drugs: If you are taking any non-prescription medications, prescriptions, or illicit drugs avoid adding alcohol to the mix.

  • Know who you are with: Be suspicious if someone is urging you to drink beyond your comfort level or trying to get you alone.

  • Know your personal limits: You don't have to drink as much as your friends or the people around you. Know what your personal limits are and stick to them.

When Sex is a Possibility
  • Pay attention to how much your partner is drinking.
  • Consent to sexual activity before drinking is helpful but never final. Consent can be removed at any time.
  • Keep in mind that impairment of judgment can begin with the first drink.
  • Remember that the probability of miscommunication is high when people have been drinking.
  • Warning bells should be going off in your head if you see an opportunity in hooking up with an intoxicated person.

If you're in doubt - wait!

Who is Responsible?
  • When alcohol is involved in a sexual assault, it is always the fault of the offender -- regardless of whether or not the victim had been drinking as well. Society often blames victims of sexual assault who have been drinking because it is assumed that their choice to drink led to the assault. In reality, it is an offender who chooses to take advantage of another person's level of intoxication.
  • If someone chooses to drink alcohol, that choice never equates to "asking" to get hurt.
  • It is always a best practice to avoid engaging in sexual activity while drinking or drunk.
  • If consent is unclear, stop immediately and clarify with your partner.
  • Remember, those who are incapacitated by the use of drugs or alcohol are unable to consent to sexual activity. Engaging in any sort of sexual activity with a person who is incapacitated is AGAINST THE LAW.

¹Task Force on the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (2002). A call to action: Changing the culture of drinking at U.S. colleges. Washington, DC: National Institutes of Health. ²Knight, et al. (2002). Alcohol abuse and dependence among U.S. College Students. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 63: 263-270. ³Abbey, A. (2002). Alcohol-related sexual assault: a common problem among college students. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Supplement No. 14, 118-128.*The Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention (2005). Sexual violence and alcohol and other drug use on campus.

²Adapted from

³Adapted from "RAINN's Top Safety Tips for Safe Drinking"