This morning there was a story on “The Today Show” about a woman who was raped and during the trial “her Google search history [was subpoenaed] to learn what information she had looked up before and after her assault.” Overall, it didn’t seem like a outlandish request since the defense lawyers could have requested the phone transcripts if she’d called a rape phone hotline. As a viewer, I was interested to know what was searched on the internet, so a jury might have been, also.
But, what really caught my attention during the story was that despite years and years of information on rape prevention in the media and on college campuses, women are still not heeding the advice on how to protect themselves. After a date with a stranger she met on a dating website, the woman from this story went to his home for a “nightcap.”
I have two younger sisters and it is so important that they feel able to take measures to prevent being raped. There may be situations beyond their control, yet in most situations, there are actions that they can take to protect themselves! Sometimes when this idea is voiced, people act like rape victims are being blamed for being raped. Uhhh, no, but as women we have an unbelievable amount of power to use proven methods to protect ourselves and one another!
During my last years of college, I was continually surprised by how many female students were assaulted when they walked by themselves to the their cars or at off campus bars when they got separated from their friends. In one case, a group of girls were walking to their car and one girl was steered away from the group by a guy they’d just met at a bar. Her friends didn’t notice she was no longer with them and she didn’t alert her friends. I remember just shaking my head and not understanding how this could happen.
I just wonder what we can do to get our sisters and friends to better use proven tactics to prevent being sexually assaulted? Also, do women not use these tactics because they think that it won’t happen to them? I once told a male friend that women have to act like all men could be rapists. He thought that was crazy, but then I asked him how are women supposed to know who isn’t a violent pervert? Rapists don’t wear a scarlet “R!”
That doesn’t mean that women have to be paranoid, but it does mean that we can take reasonable precautions that according to the National Institutes of Health should include:
When out by yourself:
- Avoid becoming isolated with people you do not know or do not trust.
- Be aware of where you are and what is around you. Do not cover both of your ears with music headphones.
- Keep your cell phone charged and with you.
- Stay away from deserted areas.
- Try to appear strong, confident, aware, and secure in your surroundings.
At parties or in other social situations, take the following steps:
- Go with a group of friends, if possible, or keep in contact with someone you know during the party.
- Avoid drinking too much. Do not accept drinks from someone you do not know, and keep your drink or beverage close to you.
- Do not go somewhere alone or leave a party with someone you do not know or feel uncomfortable with
More than anything, I just want women to be as safe as possible. The conversation on how women can be more safe shouldn’t just start when they are in starting their freshman year of college. This is a dialogue that parents, older siblings, friends, and high schools need to have with young women starting in high school and revisit. If we talk about what women can control, we give each other the strength and confidence to put these measures into action.
Here are two websites that had more helpful information and strategies for women to use:
New York State Police — “Crime Prevention: Date Rape”
Wikihow — “How to Prevent Date Rape”