The reported sexual abuse at Tech on Nov. 10 has Northwestern students concerned about how to stay safe, especially on campus. University Deputy Police Chief Daniel McAleer offered some simple steps he said every student should take in order to avoid or, if necessary, confront potential attackers.
1. Do not take the road less traveled
Stick to well-lit, well-traveled areas. You have a better chance of seeing a potential attacker and if you’re, say, near the library rather than all the way past the fraternity quads. And if it’s spooky (and it’s not Halloween), either avoid the area or take other people with you.
2. Telephone is more than just a game
Know the locations of emergency telephones, both on and off campus. They are the ones with the blue lights.
3. Trust your instincts
“If you feel a situation that you’re encountering may be dangerous, change directions, cross the street, [or] go into a public place like a store,” McAleer says.
4. Spice it up
If you have a can of pepper spray or mace, be sure you know how to use it. A can of pepper spray with a key ring on it is useful because it is always at hand so long as you have your keys. But having an extra weapon to use against an attacker won’t help if you don’t know how to use it. Practice taking the pepper spray out and mime spraying it at someone. But McAleer warns not just to rely on the pepper spray.
“You have to understand that it’s not always effective,” he says. “In other words, wind direction could blow the mace back or the pepper spray back and incapacitate you rather than the attacker. And the offender, if you’re not use to utilizing it, may wrestle that from your hands, and use it as an additional weapon against you.”
A can of pepper spray can be supplemented by other techniques. Run, if you can. Don’t confront the attacker. He or she may be stronger than you and could have a concealed weapon. If there is anyone around, tell them what happened. McAleer says to never be afraid of yelling, asking someone for help, or notifying the police.
“Don’t wait. Don’t ask somebody if I should call the police,” he said. “If anybody ever tells you you shouldn’t have called the police when we’re talking about these circumstances, that’s not right. The police are there for [these] situations.”
If you’d like to know specific self-defense moves, University Police offer a free Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D) class for women every Saturday and Sunday at Patten. Go to the University Police website to register or learn more.