My niece is going to college today. She is a freshman at Virginia Tech. I remember the day she was born. She is fantastic…smart, fabulous, fun. And I want her to stay that way. I had an interesting chat with my friend Andrea Erard, an attorney who practices in the area of child protection in Richmond, Virginia, whose own daughter is also going away to school. Andrea had a couple of suggestions, and I thought of some of my own, and sent them to my niece. I’ve decided to share them with everyone else as well, in the hope that they will help keep our young women as safe as possible.
The woman who was sexually assaulted by Brock Turner wrote in her statement that she was the “wounded antelope in the herd.” This list is designed to help keep everyone in the herd healthy. There will always be predators. All we can do is make it more difficult for them to succeed.
Below is my note, with very little editing. Missing from it, as I had already discussed it with her mother, is Andrea’s first suggestion: TAKE A SELF-DEFENSE CLASS. Of all the things I have done to take care of myself, that was the most empowering. If only I had taken it when I was seventeen.
I want to mention a few things to you regarding your safety in college. You might already know these things, but they are important.
Everyone usually has a night when they drink too much when they go away to school. So. It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT that you have at least one friend with you when you go out, and that you have an iron-clad, non-negotiable agreement to never leave the other alone at a party. It may be as inconvenient as all hell to be around someone for two hours longer than you want, especially if they get drunk and stupid. But it could save their life. And vice versa.
Also I’m sure you know this but never ever leave your drink, even going to the bathroom, unattended. Unattended means your eyes, no one else’s, on it at all times. Always get a new drink if you lose sight of it. Sadly there are predators in this world and some of these predators come armed to parties with the intention of knocking you out. It takes a split second to drug your drink.
Also. TRUST YOUR GUT. The second you get a bad vibe anywhere, and I mean anywhere, remove yourself from the situation. One of the most important things about having a friend with you at all times at parties is you never have to rely on someone you don’t know for help.
And, before you leave for a party, text a friend a photo of what you are wearing. Let them know where you will be.
Never, ever, be afraid of hurting someone who is about to hurt you. Aim for the throat or crotch.
Also, don’t ever worry about hurting a guy’s feelings or being called a bitch. The most important thing is your safety, always. Women historically have been taught that they have to be nice no matter what the cost. This is misogynistic bullshit.
Tech is a big school. There will be some crazies there. Simple math.
From personal experience…just don’t do shots. The best outcome you’ll have from doing shots is a crippling hangover and vomit all over your shoes.
I love you dearly. xo