Archive for category Campus safety

Women’s Personal Safety on Campus

Young women, aged 18-24, attending college, are 3 times more likely to be sexually assaulted or raped than the general population.

According to RAINN, 23.1 percent of female students experience rape or sexual assault via physical force, violence, or being incapacitated.

That’s a little over one in 5 young women … and those are only the ones we know of.  The real number is much higher.

This is why addressing women’s personal safety on campus is paramount.

It is imperative that we inform our daughters what they’re really up against — and how to better protect themselves.

Common sense tips such as “use the buddy system” and “don’t walk home alone at night” are valuable and have their place. However, those tips ignore the fact that, according to the University of Michigan, most sexual assaults are committed by someone we already know and trust, and most assaults happen in familiar surroundings. Hence, the term “Acquaintance Rape.”

Most young woman and their parents find this fact counterintuitive, but once they understand it, are able to put in place powerful strategies to not become another statistic.

Remember, the mind is the most powerful weapon.

When you change your “mental setting” from “prey” to “powerful” – that energy permeates though your body language, and shows up as confidence and strength.

Use your mind, body language, and strategy to develop “command presence” – this will broadcast to the world that you are not an easy target, which is the best deterrent against opportunistic, predatory fellow students and acquaintances, who are the most common offenders. (Think: entitled frat boys)

We know the buddy system is always recommended, but the larger the group, the better.  Go out together, and come home together.  Leave no one behind.  At parties or events, agree to check in with each other at pre-determined times. Use the buddy system when going to the bathroom, or to retrieve a coat from a back room. Why? This how a lone young woman gets dragged into a room and assaulted.

What is your plan if you think you or a friend have been drugged?  Do you have a pre-determined “distress code” to alert the other members of your group?  Have you rehearsed the power of your numbers, and the strength of your loud voices together to create a scene that would deter anyone with bad intent?

Walking home at night will happen.  But again, walk in a group. Carry yourselves with confident presence. Think “shoulders back, heads up” and scan your surroundings. Walk in well-lit areas and avoid darker shortcuts.  These three precautions will make you “harder targets.”

Don’t be shy to ask TWO trusted young men within your peer group to walk with you – but don’t let your guard down.

There is no one magic bullet that will keep you or your young woman 100% safe on campus.  But the more strategies you put in place, the safer you will all be.

Parents, you should all know what the Clery Act is, and why it is so critical in choosing a school that is entrusted with your daughter’s safety.

– Jennifer Kaminer, 9 February 2017

Related:

Women’s Safety On Campus: Live Webinar Training 

Women’s Personal Safety and Male-Encoded Language

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Women’s Personal Safety and Male-Encoded Language

STOPThe Department of Justice  – and common sense – tells us that gender-based violence and harassment is predominantly committed by men against women or non-binary persons.

Bearing in mind that every situation is different, the importance of using your best judgement in the moment, and keeping women’s personal safety at the forefront, learning to use “male-encoded language” can be a highly effective skill.

Broadly speaking, aggressive men best understand communication – verbal and non-verbal – when it reads as “male.”  Again, making a sweeping generalization that has some truth in it – aggressive men tend to receive what they interpret as “feminine” communication as irrelevant.

This is not to diminish the power and validity of communication styles that are traditionally “female.”  Rather, this is about knowing a few different helpful strategies in case of a confrontation between an aggressive man and a possibly intimidated or subordinate woman, female-presenting or gender non-conforming person.

Of course, the best way to avoid a confrontation is to … avoid it.  Leave the scene when you can. Women generally have an arsenal of “polite” exit strategies that allow the aggressive person to “save face.”  Unfortunately, there are times in life when that isn’t feasible or possible, so it’s best to have several different strategies at hand if confronted by an angry, aggressive, or otherwise inappropriate person.

When a woman is dealing with a confrontational man, the social contract tells us to be quiet, not make a scene, and try to the encounter end quickly.

We are told, implicitly and explicitly, that speaking up for ourselves makes things worse.

The truth is, being quiet and submissive was always a deeply flawed solution, and when faced with a non-resistant woman, many men will feel empowered to escalate the aggression or violence.

Politely asking an aggressor to stop being aggressive simply doesn’t work.

Although it goes against our collective cultural conditioning, oftentimes the best response to a confrontational or inappropriate male is to be loud and firm, in a tone that allows no room for negotiation or argument.

Even though there is nothing inherently male about speaking in this way, assertive speaking and body language is widely considered “male-encoded” – and therefore, more authoritative.

Consider the difference between a woman quietly saying, “Please stop doing that. You’re making me feel uncomfortable,” versus the same woman saying, “YOU!  CUT IT OUT!” while making a sharp jerking motion with her thumb.  It’s the difference between politely asking a waitress for a glass of water, and a drill sergeant issuing an order.

The assertive approach accomplishes two things: it puts the aggressor on notice that you are NOT an easy target and whatever he does to you will come with a consequence; and it alerts anyone nearby that you are in a precarious situation and they may need to step in or call for help.

Before you’re ever faced with a situation, think of assertive phrases practice saying them out loud in front of a mirror.  Practice until you’re comfortable saying these things firmly, authoritatively,  and are able to call them up instantly.

“YOU!  CUT IT OUT!”  “GET OUTTA HERE!”  “BACK OFF!”  “HEY YOU!  SHUT IT!” and “YOU BACK UP!” are some examples.  Drop your voice to a deeper register and deliver loud, firm COMMANDS, NOT REQUESTS, like a military commander – as if you EXPECT to be obeyed, and anything else is unthinkable.

Use male-encoded body language when you issue these commands.  Let your posture and facial expressions reinforce your words.Stand at attention – straight, with your feet shoulder-width apart, shoulders back, head up, with a serious face.  Look fearless, resolved, and stern.  At the same time, maintain your personal space as much as possible, as staying out of reach is always important.

Don’t worry about being rude or making a scene.  Go on and MAKE A SCENE.  Remember, the other person already broke the social contract; it’s not up to you to maintain the pretense.

Your personal safety always supersedes other people’s feelings.

Using assertive, male-encoded language should always be one of your strategies in maintaining your personal security.  Each one, teach one.

– Jennifer Kaminer, January 21, 2017

 

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5 tips to Enhance Parking Lot Safety if you are Working Late

If you will be working late, be sure to move your vehicle to a well light parking place that is closest to the door by which you will exit before it gets dark.

Do not leave valuables in view inside your car.

Remember to back into your parking space allowing for a more rapid egress if a threatening situation develops.

Try and leave the building with co workers if possible. The buddy system leaves you less vulnerable.

A small high intensity flashlight is helpful for illuminating the area around and under your vehicle, and allows you to check the back seat before unlocking and getting in.

Have your keys in your hands before you leave the building and remember to use the panic button on your key fob if you sense something is amiss.

Try and walk down the middle of the parking aisle keeping as much distance between you and the parked cars on either side.  Don’t take shortcuts between vehicles.

Always walk with purpose and scan your surroundings.

Once in your vehicle, lock the doors immediately and get underway.

Always trust your instincts. If you get a bad feeling about walking out to your vehicle don’t!

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Personal Safety: Dating Abuse and Dating Violence

During our training for young women in high school and college, I will often ask how many of them have boyfriends dom-violence2who:

  • Always rifles through their purses
  • Scroll through their call list and text messages.
  • Continuously call in to find out where they are, etc.
  • Convince them that a location sharing “emergency app” should be installed on their smart phones.

A predictable percentage of hands go up. What is disturbing is how few of these young ladies recognize these behaviors for what they are. But how could they?  Most have no frame of reference.

Additionally, most thought that these and other actions were signs of how much their boyfriend loved them. “He must love me. Look at how focused he is on me.”  And “It‘s only me he must care about.”

Once we explain these behaviors for what they really are, all the lights come on.  They now have a reference point.

This is when the other set of hands go up and young ladies start asking why their boyfriends:

  • Belittle them amongst friends
  • Marginalize the value of friends and family
  • Seem to want to cut them off from their friends and loved ones.  (To mention just a few)
  • Denigrate them only to soon flatter them and shower with gifts and affection

Once we get them to stop “compartmentalizing” , they begin to understand domestic violence or abuse is not the exclusive domain of married couples.

We remind them that in fact dating abuse and dating violence IS domestic abuse and domestic violence.

Knowledge and recognition of behaviors for what they are is a crucial first step. Strategy on how to deal with an abusive boyfriend is the next area we cover. This includes encouraging  dialog with parents and others close to the young lady at risk. … And most importantly of all, is that if a man hits you once he will hit you again.

  • We need  to remind our daughters that quite often what ends up as domestic violence within a marriage started out as dating abuse and violence long before vows were exchanged.
  • We all need to remind ourselves that dating and domestic abuse and violence are not always “other peoples problems” that  “happen somewhere else”. Denial will not make this problem go away.
  • We need to be proactive and empower our daughters with the knowledge to spot abuse and abuse pre-indicators early.
  • We need to continue to build their self esteem and confidence so that they may extricate themselves from a potentially negative relationship before the cycle of abuse sets in.

Domestic Violence/ Definitions

Dating Violence Statistics

National Coalitions Against Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence and the Workplace

The Nicole Brown Foundation

Stephanie Angelo (SPHR) talks about the cost of domestic violence to companies (45 minute interview)

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Stop Signs. A Domestic Violence Resource

 

I had the opportunity to read Stop Signs authored by my friend Lynn Fairweather who is a threat assessment and domestic violence expert. As a personal safety trainer and consultant and father of two daughters, I was particularly eager to read this book and share the “golden nuggets” with them and those I interact with on a professional level.

 

I found this book to be well balanced. While I have read several books on domestic violence, I have never seen one as comprehensive as Stop Signs. The book is segmented into three equal parts devoted to recognizing, avoiding, and escaping dating / domestic abuse and violence. It therefore applies to all women: those who have never been abused, those who are currently being abused, and those that have left an abuser.

 

This book serves as a resource, a safety plan, and offers self-help empowerment all in one. It is an intuitive read and also gives voice to survivors in dialog boxes that are strategically placed to drive home the teachable moments.  This style is in keeping with Lynn’s “lived experience” as she too is a survivor of domestic violence and is therefore able to bring a personal as well as a professional perspective to the topic.

 

Who should read this book and keep it on the shelf as a domestic violence resource? Anyone from a mother with young daughters, to someone in an abusive relationship all the way over to a threat assessment / security professional or HR personal in the corporate sector.

 

The book is available at Amazon.

Lynn is the founder and president of Presage Consulting & Training, an Oregon based organization specializing in fatality reduction through threat assessment and management.

Lynn’s contact details appear below.

 

Lynn Fairweather, M.S.W.

Presage Consulting and Training

Portland, OR

www.presagetraining.com
www.stopsignsbook.com

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