Sexual assault: don’t become the next victim

Sexual assault is a crime all about control. No one ever deserves to be assaulted and anyone can become a victim of rape. The following tips are in no way a guarantee of safety. They are just suggestions given by the Hutchinson County Crisis Center you can use in your day-to-day routine that will increase your safety and decrease the opportunity for a predator to attack.1. Travel in groups. If you are going out with your friends or just walking to a class on school campus, to the park, or up and down Main Street, it is always safer to be in a group of people. Common sense will tell you that it is easier to attack a person that is alone. The attackers do not want witnesses.2. If you are unable to go with a group, park your car in a well-lit area. If the parking lot is dark with little activity, park somewhere else. Avoid parking lots that are next to alleys, have no lighting or that are in unsafe neighborhoods. Plan to meet your friend or family at a specific lot. That way you can park your cars and walk to your destination together.3. Be aware of your surroundings. Think to yourself, “Are there suspicious people loitering around?”4. Let a friend or family member know where you are going and what time you plan on arriving. Call that person when you get to your destination. If someone knows your plans and you have not arrived, this will alert them you are possibly in need of help.5. Always carry a cell phone. Even if your cell is out of minutes, you can still dial 911 from the phone.6. Trust Your Gut! If something does not feel right, it probably isn’t. Get out of the situation.7. Drink responsibly and know your limits. Don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know or trust and never leave your drink unattended. If you have left your drink alone, get a new one. Always watch your drink being fixed. Stick to drinks you got or prepared yourself instead of common open containers like punch bowls. There has been reporting of “date rape drugs” in Hutchinson County. 8. Be careful when leaving status or away messages online and when using the “check-in” feature on Facebook. Leaving information about your whereabouts reveals details that are accessible to everyone. If you wouldn’t give the information to a stranger, then don’t put it on your online profile.9. Watch out for your friends. If a friend seems out of it, is way too intoxicated for the amount of alcohol they’ve had, or is acting out of character, get him or her to a safe place. If you suspect that you or a friend has been drugged, call 911. Be explicit with doctors so they can administer the correct tests.According to Hutchinson Crisis Center Director Norma Luginbyhl, sexual assault happens at all ages. “We need to be educated and know that every day there is someone out there capable of committing this crime, they just haven’t yet,” said Luginbyhl.Only 16 percent of rapes are ever reported to the police. In a survey of victims who do not report rape or attempted rape to the police, the following was found as to why no report was made: 43 percent thought nothing could be done, 27 percent felt it was a private matter, 12 percent were afraid of police response, and 12 percent felt it was not important enough.Remember, sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. Just make sure to keep yourself and your loved ones safe by using and sharing these tips. You can never be too careful.