While the responsibility of ending sexual violence is the perpetrators, here are some general safety tips and resources to help travelers prepare for and prevent the possibility of sexual assault abroad.
General Safety Tips
- Use the buddy system and always travel with friends.
- Be aware of social and cultural norms. For example, looking someone in the eyes when you speak to them is perfectly normal in the U.S. but in another country may signify that you are interested in that person.
- Recognize controlling behavior when beginning a relationship. Many sexual assault survivors recall feeling uncomfortable about some of their partner’s behaviors, such as degrading jokes and language, and refusing to accept “no” as an answer.
- Avoid secluded places where you could be more vulnerable. Meet new people in public spaces and let a friend know where you’ll be.
- Trust your gut. Many survivors have a “bad feeling” right before an assault takes place.
Alcohol and Drug Awareness
- Always watch your drink being poured and carry it yourself, even to the bathroom.
- Be aware of “roofies” or “club drugs” and other drugs used by perpetrators to facilitated sexual assault. This may turn your drink blue, cloudy, or salty tasting. These can cause impaired judgment or a loss of sight, sound, or consciousness within 15 minutes and up to 4 hours.
From “A Guide to Keep You Safe Abroad” Provided by Sexual Assault Support and Help for Americans Abroad (SASHAA).
Have a Backup Plan
You can’t plan for every situation, but thinking through the following scenarios might prevent you from winding up in a tough spot.
- Are you familiar with your surroundings? Take note of local landmarks, like stores or restaurants, that can help you feel more oriented. If something happens, you’ll know where to turn for help.
- If you get lost, do you have the address of your lodging written down or memorized in the local language?
- If you are separated from the group, is there a designated place where they would go to look for you?
- If your phone dies, do you have a portable backup charger and a few phone numbers memorized?
- Do you know where the nearest hospital or police station is and how to contact them?
From “Safety Tips for Traveling” provided by RAINN.