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Preventing sex crimes

(PART 3)
Published: 
Friday, February 26, 2016

The last two articles dealt with various types of sex crimes committed against young people and adults. They also covered the range of punishments as well as the need to have greater public education and awareness in homes, schools, workplaces and communities.

This third article culminates the three-part series with critical measures people at the individual level should adopt to prevent themselves or their loved ones from being victims of sex crimes. It draws on some of the guidelines espoused by the US’ largest anti-sexual violence organisation—Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) (https://rainn.org).

1. When someone is hurting you, do the following:

• Rely on a support network, that is, someone whom you can reach out

to or trust in a crisis;

• Be familiar with safe places and shelters by learning more about them near you which can include family members’ houses. Important, know the routes to them; 

• Learn how to stay safe at home. If the person who is hurting you is in the house that you are in, try hanging noise makers like bells on your door to scare away such person, sleep in open spaces like the living room, or keep the doors inside of your house locked, etc;

• Keep computer safety in mind if someone is monitoring your computer use by regularly clearing your caches, history and cookies;

• Create a code word or code number between your children and yourself which can mean—to get out, I need help, etc;

• Prepare an excuse. Create several plausible reasons for leaving the house at different times or for exiting situations that might become dangerous.

2. When someone is stalking you, do the following:

• Tell someone that you trust including your parents, loved ones, trusted adults, police, etc;

• Be prepared to reach out but ensure that your cell phone is charged, you have emergency contact numbers stored and that you memorise some of them in the event that you do not have access to your cell phone;

• Change your routine but you need to be aware first of your existing daily routine and then alter it over time. You also need to vary the way you travel, drive or walk more often. 

3. When leaving the person hurting you, do the following:

• Make an “excuse bag” that is packed with all of your (and children if you have) important documents, medication, money, keys, credit and debit cards, etc. If you are found out with such, call it your disaster emergency bag like fire, storm, etc;

• Prepare your support network by keeping them in the loop by letting them know how to respond if the perpetrator contacts them;

• Plan a safe destination;

• Plan a safe route;

• If the dangerous situation involves a partner, you should go to the police or shelter first.      

4. If someone is pressuring you, do the following:

• Remind yourself that this is not your fault as you did nothing wrong. It is the person who is pressuring you at fault;

• Trust your gut and don’t feel obliged to do anything that you do not want to do. You should only do what feels right for you;

• Create a code word with family and friends which can mean—I am uncomfortable, I need help, etc. Have their names and numbers on your phone;

• Lie, which is okay if you are concerned about upsetting this person and you need to make an excuse to create an exit. Some of these lies can be that you need to take care of a friend or family member, you are not feeling well, you need to use the bathroom, etc—whatever you need to say to exit;

• Think of an escape route by locating windows, doors, etc. This may also involve knowing how to get the attention of people around you.

The above are just some ways of preventing yourself from being a victim of sex crimes. There are many more ways which you should become familiar with. These include:

• Know basic self-defence techniques whereby you can use your hands and feet (and possibly mouth—to scream or bite) to get away in emergencies;

• Have legal safety items like pepper spray, mace, etc; 

• Associate and move in groups as far as possible;

• Regulate your alcohol intake level;

• Be aware of your surroundings at all times;

• Be assertive if someone is giving you unwanted attention;

• Keep personal information private especially over the Internet;

• If you are meeting a person for the first time, do so in a public place or with adult friend or relative around;

• Where possible, let people know where you are at all times. 

Other measures are to be implemented at the national level include legislation, policing, magistracy/judiciary, corrections, etc. 

Contact the Caribbean Institute for Security and Public Safety at 223-6999, 222-8347. Mailto: [email protected] for almost 100 courses on law enforcement, corporate security, OSH/HSE, supervision and management courses, etc. for companies and individuals.

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