It’s very unfortunate, but times are changing, and much to my dismay, things are becoming more dark and grim. I’d love to be calling out April Fools today when I talk about the high risk of contracting HIV/AIDS from being sexually assaulted, but this is no joke. Every month has its own awareness campaigns and April is no different, this month its sexual assault awareness month.
What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault is an act in which a person intentionally sexually touches another person without that person’s consent, or coerces or physically forces a person to engage in a sexual act against their will. From reading this definition you can understand why it plays a role in the amount of people who contract HIV on a yearly basis. The fastest rising age group contracting HIV (18-25) is also the age group most at risk for being sexually assaulted as well, these correlations are not by accident.
What can I do to protect myself?
Sexual assault can happen from one of many ways. The number way to protect ourselves is to educate more people on sexual assault and why it’s wrong. The clothes you wear, what you drink (or how much) don’t play a role in sexual assault, and no one is “asking for it”. However, there are some things that you can do to protect yourself.
- Learn basic self-defense – some people got in a lot of fights when they were younger and learned how to handle their own. But for many of us, we are conflict avoiders and never engaged in such activities. Taking a basic level self-defense class can give you the skills you need to protect yourself in the face of danger, and also give you a little confidence boost to stand up for yourself in other areas of your life as well.
- Stay aware of your surroundings – whether you are walking down an alley alone or smack dab in the middle of a party, keeping a eye on your surroundings is important. As tempting as it is to shove our faces in our phones while we are walking home, I urge you not to do this. If your in a party, stay interactive with the people around you and look around occasionally, or if you’re walking home put on a playlist or an audio book so that you don’t have to keep looking at your phone. You will be better prepared to fight (or flight) if a situation arises if you are paying attention.
- Buy a Sip Chip – Sip Chips are a coin sized drug test that can help you determine if your drink has been drugged or not (Buy one here). Imagine feeling safe to step away from your drink on a date to run to the bathroom real quick. With sip chips you can test your drink with just a drop of liquid. They are so small they can fit in any clutch or wallet, check them out and stay safe.
So that is a bit more information on sexual assault in the US, and some simple ways to stay safe. Also, if you have experienced sexual assault, make sure to take PrEP right away to minimize your risk for contracting HIV. If you don’t know what PrEP is, read my article here. You can also get more information on HIV/AIDS from the U.S. National Library of Medicine here at their MedlinePlus website.
Live your best life sis, and do everything you can to stay safe while doing it!