College is an exciting time. New people, a new town, and lots to learn about yourself and life. It can also be a dangerous time for young women away from home for the first time. Muggers, rapists, and guys looking to take advantage of women who have had too much to drink are commonplace in many college towns. Then there are other dangers like drunk drivers and burglars than men and women both have to know about. Thankfully though there are a few easy ways to make sure that these risks are lowered to a minimum.
There will be times that you will need to walk across campus or somewhere in town at night. You will encounter this potentially dangerous situation when you are coming back from a late night study group, going back home after working out, getting off of work at night, or going out to a bar with friends. Make sure that you never make these trips alone. When leaving from a study group there will probably be someone in the group going in the general direction you are. Ask them to walk with you to your car or the bus. Many times you will not have to even ask, especially if they are males. Many college guys are actually very protective of their female friends and would hate to see them end up on a crime alert because they were walking alone. (Contrary to the popular opinion, chivalry is not quite dead yet!) When going to work out at night you should always have a workout buddy or group of women that you work out with, especially if you are walking or jogging back when you are done. There is strength in numbers, and a rapist or mugger is less likely to assault someone who is in a group. It just would not make sense for them as there would be too many witnesses. When you get off of work you should always ask someone to walk with you to your car, preferably a large, muscular male coworker. If you are going out at night it is always best to go with a group of friends so you can walk together, make sure no one has too much to drink, and keep a watchful eye on everyone’s drinks.
If for some reason you have to go alone then it is best to find an escort service. Many schools will have one. My school offered an escort through the Corps of Cadets (the military school program on campus) and the school my sister is attending provides an escort from the campus police. An escort or ride from someone wearing an Army uniform or in police blue carrying a gun is a very big deterrent from someone who has plans for attacking you. The men who provide this service are generally very glad to perform escorts, as it gets them out of sitting around the office they are in all night and it allows members of student organizations performing this service an opportunity to play the “knight in shining armor”. Remember though that they are there to protect women who are walking across campus though. They are not there to help you carry your groceries. Calling them for this or other manual labor tasks could mean that a woman in need of an escort does not get it.
When you are out at bars, dance clubs, or house parties you should always use the buddy system. This will not only give you that group of people to walk with when you leave, but it will also keep everyone safe while they are there. College parties inevitably involve alcohol, and odds are that one girl in your group (maybe you) will have too much to drink. That girl may have thoughts of drinking much more or hooking up with someone, both things she would know better than doing if she was sober. Being in a group can let their more composed friends stop them and get them out of there. There is also strength is more people being able to judge a situation and keep an eye on things. While one or two friends may think that a party or bar is great, there is a chance that the third or fourth girl may notice that there is a suspicious looking guy in the corner. More girls in your group can also help you keep your drinks safe. There is the constant danger of someone slipping date rape drugs into a drink and then taking advantage of the helplessness that follows. One of my friends was once at a party and a guy slipped something into her drink when she was not looking. The next thing she knew she was laying on a bed with that guy kissing her and taking off her clothes. She was unable to move or shout for help because of the drugs. Thankfully her friend she was with stepped in, saw what was happening, and called the police.
Drunk driving is a constant danger in college towns. When driving at night you should always drive slowly and be scanning the streets for people driving recklessly. Try to avoid the bar districts if at all possible. If you have had too much to drink and are considering driving then you should call a friend instead. Odds are they will be happy to give you a ride. If this fail there are always taxi cabs, and some schools have student groups who provide designated driver services for free. Call them, they would rather be amused with a drunk person and risk the slight chance that someone may throw up in their car than know that you are risking your life as well as the lives of others.
Home invasion is always a threat if you are living off campus. Someone may break in to your home, steal your possessions, rape you, or possibly take your life. These risks can be minimized though. First, never give out your address to someone you barely know. If you are going out on a date with someone then the first one or even two dates should involve meeting them in public places like restaurants or coffee shops. Also never answer the door unless you are sure who it is. Look through the peephole, and if you do not know them or they are not the pizza guy you should call the police. They may not harm you but they may find another girl who is less aware. You should also put up extra defenses such as a second lock, chains on the doors, and dark curtains that prevent anyone from seeing inside your home. Finally, consider purchasing a firearm. Yes, this can be a frightening proposition, but if someone kicks in your door with the intent to harm you then there is nothing that you can do to stop them unless you are armed. A pistol or shotgun can often scare away an intruder just by yelling “I have a gun!” or the distinct sound of chambering a round into the gun. Gunfire will almost certainly make them flee. Remember to keep it in a place such as a nightstand under some clothing where it will be hard to find and to keep a lock on it. A gun that is found in usable condition can be turned on you if you come home to a break in.
Following these precautions will probably just be extra steps that you will take and never actually need. However, you should still use them to prevent the possibility of becoming a statistic.