I know that being assaulted is never the victim's fault, but are there measures I can take to protect myself?

  • Know when you want to stop. You have the right to say "No" to any unwanted sexual contact. If you are uncertain about what you want, ask your date to respect your feelings.
  • If possible, communicate your limits firmly and directly. Sometimes saying "No" strongly could make a difference.
  • Don't assume that the other person will automatically know how you feel, or will eventually "get the message" without your having to tell them.
  • Listen to your gut feelings. If you feel uncomfortable or think you may be at risk, you probably are. Leave the situation immediately and go to a safe place.
  • Don't be afraid to "make waves" if you feel threatened. If you feel you are being pressured or coerced into sexual activity against your will, don't hesitate to state your feelings and get out of the situation. A few minutes of social awkwardness or embarrassment is preferable to the trauma of sexual assault.
  • Be mindful that alcohol or other drugs may decrease your ability to make quick, clear and unequivocal decisions.
  • When on a first or blind date, it can be helpful to go out with a group of friends. Go to a public place like a movie, a concert or restaurant. Carry money for a taxi and a charged cell phone. Have a plan if things go wrong.

You always have the right to say "no," even if...

  • You have been drinking
  • You have been making out
  • You have had sex before
  • You said yes, then changed your mind
  • Your partner says, "You owe me."
  • You're flirting or wearing sexy clothes
  • You think he or she will get mad

Sometimes I go out to bars and parties. What can I do to decrease the possibility of an incident?

  • Try to avoid being alone with someone you don't know well or who makes you feel uncomfortable.
  • Suggest staying with a group. Be mindful not to wander beyond where everyone is sitting. If you go to the bathroom away from the bar, take a friend with you.
  • Avoid accepting a drink at a party or bar that you haven't seen prepared. It is best to buy your own beverages. If someone offers you a drink at a bar, club, or party, go to the bar and watch the drink being prepared. Carry the drink yourself to avoid having something placed in your drink without your knowledge.
  • Avoid exchanging or sharing drinks with others, and/or leaving your drink unattended. If you realize that your drink has been left unattended, throw it away.
  • Beware of people's behavior. If a person does not listen to you, stands too close, or seems to enjoy your discomfort, s/he may not respect your desires or limits.
  • Always let someone — a friend, roommate, etc. — know when you are going out and when you will be home.

I want to watch out for my friends. How can I do that?

  • Go to events with friends. Stay together! Make sure everyone in the group gets home safely.
  • Have a designated "sober" person when you go out to parties, clubs, or bars. Have a plan to check up on each other.
  • Take steps to ensure your friends' safety. If one of your friends appears very intoxicated, gets sick after drinking a beverage, passes out and is difficult to awaken, seems to be having difficulty breathing, or is behaving in an uncharacteristic way, get emergency medical assistance immediately.
  • Always be aware of your friends. Don't leave them alone or with someone they don't know.
  • Make sure your friends know about predatory drugs, which could be slipped into their drinks.
  • Warn friends about bars, clubs or parties where aggressive behavior is known to have occurred.