There has been a lot of recent news in the media regarding influential executives taking advantage of females. Having been a victim of sexual assault and harassment, I can say with great confidence that I never want to be in that moment again. Like many individuals who have been exposed to or experienced sexual assault or harassment, it is difficult to forget the uncomfortable experience, let alone, beating oneself up for having gone through that experience. I, myself, continue to question why I wasn’t able to stop the incident when it happened.

Sexual assault and harassment incidents happen far too much. Sometimes, it can even be viewed as normal in certain industries. Newsflash: it’s not. I was exposed to it working in the fitness industry as well as a student at an academic institution.  Depending on the severity of the incident and the individual involved, everyone reacts differently, yet the majority of victims are unable to forget the incident. In fact, the incident can affect how they live their daily life, mostly living life out of fear.   

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While you cannot completely prevent or protect yourself from sexual harassment and assault, follow these five steps in order to minimize the risk.

1) Be aware of your surroundings.

Make sure you are familiar with the area you are in and those that are around you to the best of your ability.

2) Always make an appearance that you are not alone.

If someone physically can’t be with you, pick up your phone and make it appear that you are on the phone with someone. This can give off the impression to an attacker that if they approach you someone will know something is wrong. It could lessen the likelihood of an attack.

3)  Mix up your schedule.

Try to avoid taking the same way home each day or leaving buildings at the same time each day.  People can pick up on your little habits and it can become dangerous for yourself.

4) Judge others

I understand that you may have been taught never judge. In this instance, I would disagree.  Someone you are extremely close with may be a threat to you. Pick up on little actions they make. Judge whether or not they can be interpreted as dangerous.

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5)  If you can, speak up. 

For many survivors of sexual assault, it can be incredibly difficult to share your story or speak up for a variety of different reasons, and that’s understandable. If you are in a position where you feel threatened or harassed, try to stand up for yourself. If you can, try to document everything, tell someone, or report it. 

Words of wisdom, remain cautious but live comfortably my future female leaders. Stay strong. 

If you or someone you know is in need of sexual assault support services, visit www.rainn.org or call the 24/7 crisis hotline at (800) 656-HOPE(4673).

Alexa S
CONTRIBUTOR