IMPORTANT BACK-TO-SCHOOL MESSAGE
Today's the first day back to school for many U.S. kids, so I thought I'd post an important message for all you guys and gals out there who are heading off to college for the first time. My message is:
BE ON THE LOOK OUT FOR PERVS!!!
I know you're laughing right now, and that's OK, but I really am serious.
As someone who worked in an undergraduate university dormitory for ten years (and lived in one for several years before that), I know how many freaky guys there are out there (I would also like to mention that as a female author, I have had, on more than one occasion, pervs show up to my book signings with “a puppy in their pants” to present to me. Charming! Proving that even AFTER school, you still have to be on the lookout for pervs).
So I suggest you all start doing what my friends and I have been doing since our college days to protect ourselves. Because no matter how much sensitivity training we give them, or how many Omega 3 fatty acids we cram down their throats to quell their icky impulses, there are always going to be pervs.
And party princesses like ourselves are always going to have to take steps to protect ourselves from them.
Remember when you were in the second grade and your class went on a field trip, and your teacher made you all choose partners, and that partner was your “buddy” for the day, and you were not to let your “buddy” out of your sight, so neither of you would run afoul of pervs (your teacher said it was so you wouldn't “get lost,” but believe me, she was thinking about pervs)?
Well, when I was in school, my friends and I used the buddy system, only at parties and bars, to steer clear of pervs.
That is right. My friends and I looked out for one another–still do! Just like Daniel Day Lewis in Last of the Mohicans, our mantra was that no one ever got left behind! Stay alive, no matter occurs! Your buddy WILL find you!
If one girl drank too much at a party and started barfing her brains out and had to go to the hospital? We all went with her.
If one girl wanted to go on the swings in the abandoned kiddie park after midnight, and none of us could dissuade her from it? We all went on the swings with her.
If one girl wanted to go to the midnight showing of a really boring foreign film none of the rest of us wanted to see? We all went with her (providing she paid for our popcorn).
If one girl wanted to go off with (or accept a drink from) a guy we did not know, no matter how much the girl in question drunkenly begged to be allowed to go off with said guy or accept said drink (because sometimes pervs can actually look kinda hot. You don't find out he's a perv until it turns out he doesn't have a puppy in there after all), we did not allow her to do so.
“Give him your number and let him call you in the morning,” we'd say. “If he's really that into you, he'll call and ask you on a proper date.”
My girlfriends and I were very strict about dating. We all required our dates to come up to our dorm floor to meet our friends (including our RA) before we went out with them. That way, we got the date's vital statistics, in case we needed to track him down and kill him–I mean, identify him to the police–later, if our friend didn't come home when she was supposed to.
Like all college students, my friends and I occasionally needed to blow off steam by partying. But we tried to be smart about it. When we went out, it was ALWAYS on foot, never in cars, and ONLY in packs. One girl was always designated the “sober” one. That way, there was one person who could make rational decisions.
Who got designated the “sober” girl generally depended on who had a test the next day. I was often the “sober” girl because I was always writing a novel for fun and usually had a chapter or two I wanted to finish before bed.
But even the designated sober girl had to look out sometimes! At the first real college party I ever went to, thrown by an entire floor of a dorm, a different drink was served in each resident's room, and the guest's goal was to visit as many rooms as possible before passing out.
I happened to be the designated sober girl that night. That's why I hit the “alcohol free” room and drank copiously of the punch while I kept watch over my friends…until I found out the “alcohol free” punch had actually been laced with Everclear, a flavorless grain alcohol that is 190 proof!
Which of course explained why I threw up so much for the next three days. But, hey, my buddies got me home safe!
Do you see how the buddy system saved me? It can work for you, too, as it has worked for countless others in history.
But wait, there's more. Here is some advice from a police officer who has been arresting, interviewing, and investigating pervs for 10 years—my brother, Officer Matt Cabot.
According to Matt, the first, most important, and easiest way to avoid a sexual assault is to pre-plan your activities. Don't get yourself into a situation where you must walk alone in a deserted area at night (see above, re: Buddy System).
If you DO end up having to walk alone somewhere deserted late at night, CALL 911! Explain what is happening to the dispatchers. Tell them you are alone and that you saw a creepy guy lurking around outside. They will seriously be there in two minutes flat.
Direct quote from my brother: “We cops love walking girls to their cars, it makes us feel macho and cool. When we get there and ask where the guy is, just say, I don't know, he's not there?…hmmm, can you walk me to my car? PROBLEM SOLVED.”
I myself have called 911 LOADS of times. Do not be shy about calling 911. The police would much rather have you call them and it turn out to be a false alarm than have you NOT call them, and you turn up dead. Got it? PROTECTING YOU IS THEIR JOB, and, based on my brother Matt, anyway, they enjoy doing it.
Truthfully, however, you are three times more likely to be sexually assaulted by an acquaintance than you are by a stranger. My brother says he has taken hundreds of reports where women who were drinking at a dinner party got assaulted in the garage or a bedroom by a fellow guest, someone they knew. If you do not have a sober buddy on duty to look out for you, do not let your guard down (i.e. drink too much). Pervs can look JUST LIKE NORMAL PEOPLE. Stay alert….
…and always stay away from drinks you did not actually see being prepared–such as “alcohol-free” punch. Try to drink only beverages you prepared or opened yourself—and then keep an eye on them! If you get up to dance, GET A NEW DRINK when you're done dancing. Do not go back to the drink you left unattended (and if you are in a bar with those little paper things that you stick on the side of your drink while you're dancing to let the wait staff know it's not an abandoned drink, ESPECIALLY don't trust that your drink wasn't messed with while you were gone).
Case in point: When I worked in the dorm at NYU, a famous celebrity's daughter who lived there left her drink unattended in a bar, and the next thing anyone knew, she was unable to walk…from what was later determined to be rohypnol (or “roofies”) someone slipped into her drink. Fortunately, she practiced the buddy system, and her friends got her to the hospital before anything bad happened to her.
But this goes to show why you should NOT accept a drink from ANYONE, even a “friend,” unless you WATCHED it being opened and prepared, and know that it is safe. THEN KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR DRINK AT ALL TIMES.
Finally, there's a reason your mom told you not to speak to strangers–more of
ten than not, they are out to scam and/or hurt you. Common scams from the campus I worked on included the old “I got locked out of my apartment and I have an important job interview in two hours. Can I come over to your place to use your shower?” and “Hey, did anyone ever tell you that you're so pretty, you could be a model? I'm a professional photographer. Why don't you come up to my studio so I can take your picture?” and of course the tried and true, “Hey, want to come see my new puppy?”
Pervs will come up with all kinds of totally believable stories as to why you should come to their apartment or get into their car, or why you should let them into YOUR dorm room or car. Remember: Pervs LOOK like normal people. Often, they can even be cute. How do you know if a guy is just a cute guy or a perv? If he wants to do something with you RIGHT THEN, and not make plans for a future date, especially a group date, you should be suspicious. And a perv will often try to make you feel bad or guilty for not trusting him enough to do something with him RIGHT THEM. Some of them are such good actors, they will even CRY.
DON'T FALL FOR IT.
JUST. SAY. NO.
Then call the cops.
So, guys and girls, the fact is, you CAN have fun in school, and do it safely…if you follow the tips above. Don't forget the buddy system; when in doubt, dial 911. And never, ever say yes to seeing a stranger's puppy.
Now party on.