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voices against violence

Risk Reduction

Risk reduction provides individuals with strategies to decrease vulnerability to interpersonal violence and increase safety. VAV believes the root cause of interpersonal violence is when a person makes a choice to cause harm. This means that no matter what the context or relationship between these people, violence is never the fault of the survivor. However, there are some concrete practices which help increase the likelihood of everyday safety for ourselves and people we care about.

One way to proactively reduce risk is to have a plan and look at your options. This may include knowing your environment, knowing safe ways to get home, increasing security at home and being prepared with resources should anything happen to you or someone you know.

Trust Your Gut
On- and Off-Campus Safety
Know What You're Drinking and How Much
Alcohol and Drug-Facilitated Violence
Self-Defense Courses
A Note on Pepper Spray and Other Weapons
BeVocal - Bystander Intervention

Trust Your Gut

The most important tool of self-protection is your own instincts. If it feels wrong, it is wrong. You do not need an excuse to physically leave a location or to stop engaging with someone who you are unsure of. Some people are scared to act on their intuition because they may come off as rude. An alternative to this is to practice being assertive. Many people avoid being assertive because they confuse being assertive with being aggressive. Aggressiveness violates the rights of others. Assertiveness is respectful communication of your own rights.

For more information, please see CMHC's page, How to Be Assertive.

On-Campus Safety

emergency call box

If you are worried or scared on campus, consider finding the closest outdoor emergency call box. There are 120 installed on the 40 Acres. For more information and a full map, please see: http://www.utexas.edu/police/services/callbox.html

For more information on campus safety and security, please visit: http://www.utexas.edu/safety/

Off-Campus Safety

Over 86% of UT Austin students live off-campus and are faced with important safety decisions on a daily basis. Whether you are looking for an apartment or have lived in off-campus housing for years, the Live Safe, Guide for Off-Campus Housing: offers advice to help you: http://www.utexas.edu/safety/livesafe/

Get Home Safely

One way to increase safety is to walk or ride with people you trust. If you are on campus, you may want to consider accessing SURE Walk provided by Student Government.

SURE Walk
Website: utsg.org/projects/sure-walk/
Phone: 512-232-9255
Email: orderasurewalk@gmail.com

ut shuttle buses

UT Shuttles and Capital Metro E-Bus
Make sure you know the schedule of buses. As you know, your UT ID doubles as a free bus pass. Late-nights and weekends you can access night owl buses or the E-Bus.

UT Shuttle Schedule, Map and Info:
http://www.utexas.edu/parking/transportation/shuttle/index.php

The E-Bus is a late night service that picks up passengers from UT, west campus, and Riverside areas and provides a safe alternative to driving to and from Austin's entertainment district during weekend evenings (Thursday - Saturday from 8:30 p.m. - 3:00 a.m.). http://www.utexas.edu/parking/transportation/ebus/

If you have a smart phone, consider downloading the app, Hail a Cab Austin.

If you decide to walk alone, consider staying in well-lit areas where there are other people around. It is recommended that you keep your phone in an accessible place but try not to talk/text and walk at the same time in order to remain aware of your surroundings. If you are concerned about getting home, you may want to contact your roommates or close neighbor to let them know you're on your way. You may want to consider downloading a safety app if you have a smart phone.

Safety Applications for Smart Phones

  • KiteString SMS-based service. Sign up online, then ask it via text message to check up on you in, say, 25 minutes when you are supposed to arrive in your destination. After 25 minutes, Kitestring will send you a text, checking to see if you made it. You reply via text or check-in online. If you don't (and you haven't extended the time or checked in early), it will send a message you created to your emergency contact, letting them know to give you a call. If your phone dies, you lose it, or something happens to you, it will send the message anyway -- it doesn't need your phone to be serviceable. http://www.techrepublic.com/article/can-tech-help-prevent-violence-against-women-these-tools-say-yes/

  • Circle of 6 lets you pick six friends to alert if you need a ride, help, or if there's an emergency. It's designed for college students. For more information , please see: http://www.circleof6app.com/


Self-Defense Courses

UTPD RAD's free 16-hour women's self defense class The Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) System is a program of realistic, self-defense tactics and techniques. It is a comprehensive course for women that begins with awareness, prevention and risk reduction, and incorporates hands-on defense training. For more information and to register for an upcoming class, please visit: http://www.utexas.edu/police/rad/

Know What You're Drinking and How Much

Alcohol doesn't cause sexual assault but it is a factor in more than 70% of cases. Drinking can lower inhibitions, making it more difficult to resist sexual aggression and other forms of violence. Alcohol directly impacts decision making capacity, making it more difficult to reduce risk. If you do choose to drink, pace yourself and encourage your friends to party smart. Knowing what you're drinking and how much of it can increase your overall safety.

What can you do to protect yourself while drinking?

  • Don't leave your drink unattended at the table or bar while you are dancing, talking with friends, or in the bathroom
  • Only drink from un-opened bottles or cans, or drinks that you've seen poured.
  • Avoid group drinks such as punch bowls, or containers that are passed around.

Resources for students concerning alcohol:

Know Your Line, an initiative of the Office of Health Promotion, reports that 77% of female and 60% of male UT students said they drink moderately or not at all. Choosing to drink moderately or not drink at all is associated with higher GPA. Know Your Line recommends a few tips for partying smart: including setting a limit, staying hydrated, and having a plan to get home.

Know the Signs of Alcohol Overdose Alcohol poisoning is a serious and life threatening medical emergency that results from drinking a harmful amount of alcohol. Both students who choose to drink and those who choose not to drink may encounter alcohol emergencies during their time at UT.

Student Amnesty for Alcohol Emergencies Sometimes students are afraid to seek emergency medical care when alcohol poisoning is suspected because they do not want to get themselves or others in trouble. In order to encourage students to seek emergency medical care, the University has instituted Student Amnesty for Alcohol Emergencies. This policy means that current UT students can avoid formal University disciplinary action and the creation of a formal disciplinary record when they call for help for an alcohol medical emergency.

Brief Alcohol Screening and Interventions for Students (BASICS) BASICS is designed to assist students in examining their own drinking behavior in a judgment free environment. BASICS is not an abstinence-only program. Instead, goals of the program are selected by the student and aimed at reducing risky behaviors and potential harmful consequences.

Counseling and Mental Health Center Individual Consultations Students can confidentially speak with a licensed professional counselor about their own or someone else's use of alcohol and other drugs.

Center for Students in Recovery The mission of The Center for Students in Recovery is to provide a supportive community where students in recovery and in hope of recovery can achieve academic success while enjoying a genuine college experience free from alcohol and other drugs.

Alcohol and Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault

Alcohol and drugs such as Rohypnol, Ketamine, and GHB are never the cause of sexual assault, but they can be used to intentionally make someone more vulnerable to unwanted sexual advances and aggression. These drugs often result in some level of amnesia, survivors frequently report little to no memory of what happened.

What are some signs of being drugged?

  • If you notice something is wrong with your drink - there seems to be some powder on the glass or it has a funny taste (esp. salty or bitter) - throw it away immediately. You may want to inform the host of the party and your friends.
  • If you suddenly feel really tired or really drunk and you don't know why, you may be feeling the effects of a drug.
  • Experiencing a quick onset of muscle weakness, fatigue, slurred speech, and loss of motor coordination and judgment.
  • Having a difficult time remembering what happened after your last drink the night before.
  • Waking up and feeling like you had sex but do not remember with whom or when.

What should I do if I think I have been drugged?

  • Ask a friend to stay with you and help get the help you need.
  • Preserve as much physical evidence as possible.
  • If you believe you have been assaulted, please consider obtaining a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE). A SAFE can be conducted up to 96 hours following an assault.
  • If studying abroad, contact your study abroad administrator. For emergency contact information, please see: http://world.utexas.edu/risk/emergency

Learn more about the side effects, withdrawal symptoms and dependency of party and other drugs at http://www.healthyhorns.utexas.edu/partydrugs.html

A note on carrying pepper spray and other weapons

Defensive sprays such as pepper spray along with personal protection weapons like tasers or concealed handguns are an ongoing discussion among advocates. While they can offer increased protection in some instances, it is important to ensure that users are properly trained so as not to put themselves in danger and/or have the weapon used against them. Carrying these types of weapons without proper safety training can provide a person with a false sense of security. For additional information, please consider taking a UTPD RAD self-defense course, which covers this issue.

BeVocal: The Bystander Intervention Initiative of the University of Texas at Austin

BeVocal is a university-wide initiative to promote the idea that individual Longhorns have the power to prevent high-risk behavior and harm.

Bystander intervention is choosing to respond to a potentially harmful situation or interaction in a way that could positively influence the outcome.

A potential sexual assault can look like a person taking advantage of another either through the use of alcohol and other drugs, physical dominance or threats. It may also look like minimizing the issue of sexual violence through rape jokes ("I raped that test"), minimizing an experience of sexual violence ("it was just a misunderstanding") or blaming someone for their experience of violence ("they were asking for it").

  • If your friend looks drunk or ready to pass out, don't assume "everything will be OK." Check to see if they are all right.
  • If you came together, leave together. Don't leave a friend behind. If someone tells you, "They're upstairs sleeping, don't worry about it," go find out. Don't leave without someone unless you know for sure.

For more information about BeVocal and how to get involved please see www.wellnessnetwork.utexas.edu/BeVocal

For more information on how to support a survivor please see How to Support a Survivor
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UT Counseling and Mental Health Center Voices Against Violence
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