Contents

Domestic Violence

The problem of domestic and relationship violence on college campuses and in our country is of great concern. Each year, thousands of people are injured, threatened and even killed as a result of violence perpetrated by someone the victim knows. Because of the scope of this problem the University of Florida Police Department provides a Crime Victim Advocate. The Advocate’s role is to assist anyone who is the victim of a crime while on campus, particularly violent crime. The advocate can be reached 24 hours a day by calling the police department at 392-1111. To help curb this problem here are some steps you can take.

Seven Steps to Escape Domestic Violence

  1. Get To A Safe Place!

    It’s a crime to threaten or hit another person. If you are the victim of domestic violence, you have the right to protect yourself and to expect help from others.

    Don’t stay in your home. Doing nothing solves nothing. Go to a friend, neighbor, or relative.

    Temporary shelter is available for battered persons, even those with children. The important thing is to get to a safe place as quickly as possible!

  2. Call The Police!

    If you are in an abusive relationship, you cannot control the situation; therefore it is important to report any assault or battery to the police or sheriff’s department by calling 9-1-1 immediately.

    In Florida, officers will arrest a batterer if there are any physical signs of injury or there is reason to believe violence has or will occur. The sooner you report a battering the better. By allowing others to become involved you are helping yourself, and helping the batterer.

  3. Follow Through!

    Once a report to the police is made the legal process will begin. The victim advocate will aid you at each step and explain what will happen.

    Once you have made the step to report abuse, stick with it. There are many people and agencies available to help you.

  4. Don’t Believe… “I’ll Never Hit Again”

    Criminal prosecution and/or civil action (divorce or separation) are options for any battered person. Often the batterer is unable to admit there is a problem. Counseling is only helpful if both partners want help and are motivated to work together. If the abuse is habitual or extremely violent, the batterer may need long term therapy.

    Information on counseling and therapy for a victim or batterer is available through referrals from the Crime Victim Advocate.

  5. Consider Your Future Safety

    If the batterer refuses to seek help, it is unlikely the beatings will stop. Statistics show the beatings will become more and more severe. Protect yourself.

    The Victim Advocate can assist you in obtaining a restraining order requiring your batterer to stay away from you, your residence, and your workplace.

  6. Look For Help!

    You’re not alone. There are many places in Alachua County where a battered person may seek help. If you are planning to set up a separate residence, do some planning in advance and locate resources to support you in the first few weeks. Check with private social service agencies, churches or the battered women’s shelters.

    Don’t be ashamed to ask for help!

  7. Provide For The Future!

    Even if you’ve never worked before, you can become self-supporting.

    Community education classes are open to those who would like to complete high school or who want to learn job-related skills.

    Assistance such as help with registration, academic counseling, support groups, and childcare is also available for men and women returning to school for further education. Contact a counselor at your community college.

    You can receive support from a University of Florida Police Department’s Victim Advocate with regard to all aspects of victimization and recovery to include:

    • Crisis counseling
    • Support in court appearances
    • Information about your case
    • Property return assistance
    • Assistance during court proceedings
    • Witness waiting room
    • Referral to community agencies
    • State victim compensation assistance
    • Restraining Order assistance

    Remember you are not alone. Domestic and relationship violence is dangerous and won’t just go away. Seek help and protect yourself from violence

Sexual battery

The State of Florida uses the term sexual battery; others call it sexual battery or rape. It is all the same thing, a violent crime that uses sex as a weapon, that effects our communities and universities nationwide. Some people have the wrong idea about sexual battery. They think the attacker was overcome with sexual desire, the victim was dressed too seductively, or the victim asked for it. These ideas assume that sexual battery is motivated by sexual desire. It is a violent crime, a hostile attack, and an attempt to hurt, humiliate, and control the victim. Sex is only the weapon.

Sexual Battery is defined by Florida Law as oral, anal or vaginal penetration by or union with, the sex organ of another or oral, anal or vaginal penetration by an another with any object. Sexual. Rape is sexual intercourse with a person against her/his will through force, threats, or intimidation. There is a big is a difference between consent and submission out of fear. If you fear for your life, your physical safety, or the life and safety of a loved one, you may sincerely believe you have no other alternative than to submit to a sexual act. This does not mean that you have consented to it. The decision to resist or not to resist can only be made by the person who is attacked.

The Victim

You are a victim of a crime if you have had unwanted sexual contact. Sexual battery is no less serious if you know your attacker. Previous sexual contact with your attacker does not justify or excuse the crime. If you think sexual battery is motivated by passion or happens because the victim asked for or wanted it, look at the facts. Sexual battery can happen to anyone – you, your children, co-workers, or friends, or other members of your family. The victim can be any age, race, have any income level and live in the city or in the country. It can happen to anyone.

Anyone May Become A Victim

Sexual battery awareness is based on environmental alertness. Remember alcohol and drugs dull your senses and judgement. When uncomfortable, trust your instincts!
The Situation – Perhaps you think sexual battery happens only in certain high-risk situations such as hitchhiking, walking alone at night, or going out socially alone. It’s true that sexual battery can occur in such situations, but it also takes place in ordinary, seemingly safe places. In fact, about one-third of all rapes occur in or near the victim’s residence. About one-half of the rapes are by first or casual dates or romantic acquaintances.
The Assailant – It is important to be aware that most sexual offenders don’t look abnormal or act strangely. In fact, perpetrators of rape and battery are not always strangers to their victims. In many cases, the assailant is an acquaintance, neighbor, friend, or relative.
Acquaintances – Date rape prevention involves educating both young men and young women. Men need to understand that NO means NO. The only thing they are owed for a date is thank you. Men need to understand that they have the right and responsibility to communicate clearly–to say what they mean and want. They need to trust their instincts and learn to stay out of risky situations.

Plan Ahead

  • Find out about a new date. Ask others who know or have dated the person. Date with friends before accepting a single date. Make definite plans in advance. Inform a friend, roommate or someone else you trust of your plans, who you will be with and when you plan to return.
  • Take your own vehicle or meet at the destination. Carry money for a phone call or fare home.
  • Avoid parties where men greatly outnumber women. Don’t leave a group setting with a person you don’t know.
  • Attend parties in small groups where possible.
  • Be wary of behavior that makes you feel uncomfortable. If it persists, leave. Stand up for yourself.
  • Avoid secluded places where you are put in a vulnerable position.
  • Be careful when inviting someone to your residence or accepting an invitation to theirs.
  • If someone is pressuring you, say that you don’t like it-and mean it.
  • Women need to learn that it’s O.K. to refuse a date. They need to trust their instincts.

Prevention Strategies

Prevention of any crime begins with awareness. Become aware of your surroundings and stay tuned in for possible danger or threats to your safety. Here are some tips for adding this awareness to your daily life.

At Home

  • Be sure the doors of your residence are locked when you are there as well as when away.
  • Use peepholes to identify people before opening the door.
  • Make sure that all windows are properly secured.
  • Never indicate to anyone that you are alone.
  • Never let strangers inside your residence to use the phone. Offer to make the call for them.
  • Use blinds or draperies for privacy.
  • Avoid being in isolated areas such as laundries or parking areas alone, especially at night.
  • List your initials instead of your first name on your mailbox and in the telephone directory.
  • Always have your key ready for quick entry.
  • Have a telephone with a lighted keypad readily available near your bed for quick use at night.
  • If you find a door or window open or signs of forced entry upon arriving at your residence, don’t enter. Go to the nearest phone and call the police.

When Walking

Avoid walking alone! On campus, use the Student Nighttime Auxiliary Patrol (SNAP), a free campus safety escort service. Request a ride from the “TapRide” app found on both Google Play & iTunes or via telephone at 392- SNAP (7627). SNAP operates from 6:30 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. during the Fall and Spring semesters and from 8:30 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. during the Summer semester. SNAP does not operate during UF breaks or during official holidays.

UFPD & UF Student Government also offer another free safety app. “TapShield” is full of features designed to help keep you safe and offer you a way to text with UFPD dispatch if you need assistance. Find more information here: TapShield App

  • Stay in well-lighted areas, away from alleys, bushes, and entryways.
  • Walk on the side of the street facing traffic.
  • If a driver stops to ask directions, avoid getting close to the car.
  • If a car appears to be following you, turn and walk in the opposite direction and find a populated location to get assistance. Also be sure to call police.
  • Don’t hitchhike and only accept rides from people you know well.
  • Always be alert and aware. If someone bothers you, don’t be embarrassed to attract attention to yourself. Yell!
  • Always try to let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.

Traveling in Your Car

  • Have your keys ready when you approach the vehicle.
  • Check inside your vehicle before entering.
  • Always lock your doors, both when driving and when parked.
  • Park in well-lighted areas.
  • Avoid isolated roads and shortcuts.
  • Keep your vehicle in good repair and make certain you have enough fuel.
  • If your vehicle breaks down, raise the hood or display a sign. Stay in the vehicle with the doors locked and the windows rolled up. If someone stops to offer you help, roll the window down slightly and ask the person to call for assistance.
  • If you are followed, drive to the nearest open business for help, or go to a police or fire station.
  • If involved in a minor collision at night or in an isolated area, do not exit to inspect the damage or contact the other driver. Signal the other driver with your lights, and proceed to the nearest lighted and occupied business or police station.

Know Your Defenses

Anyone can be a victim of sexual battery. You should think about the kinds of defense you would be willing to use. A 1989 FBI study shows that there is no correlation between a victim who resists and the amount of physical injury she sustains. 71% of victims avoid being raped by taking self-protective measures, whereas of the remaining 29% only 8% escaped without being raped.
Because all people and all situations are different, there is no ONE way for you to protect yourself. People have different capabilities, and you must decide for yourself the best defense method for you.

Ways to react to a sexual battery

Passive Resistance

The goal of passive resistance is to think and talk your way out of the situation. With passive resistance you can:

  • Try to calm the attacker. Try to persuade him not to carry out the attack.
  • Try to discourage the attacker. Pretend to faint, cry hysterically, and act mentally incapacitated or insane.
  • If you are at your residence, tell the attacker a friend is coming over or that your spouse or roommate will be back soon.

Active Resistance

Active resistance is intended to distract or temporarily injure your attacker to create an opportunity for escape. Nobody can tell you whether or not active resistance will be the right thing to do. A decision to resist actively, however, is irreversible. Your goal is to escape. Here are some considerations regarding the most common types of active resistance:

Yelling

Yell don’t scream: Screaming comes from the throat and can be mistaken for playful banter. Screaming is also associated with fear. Yelling comes from the diaphragm, the center of a woman’s power. It is an empowerment action, attracts attention, and cannot be mistaken for a playful scream. Yelling also prepares her body to accept a blow, if necessary, without having the wind knocked out of her. A yell can surprise or frighten an attacker away if he fears people will come to help.

Fighting Back

A forceful struggle may also discourage an attacker. If you are not afraid to hurt someone, and can land a strong kick or kit, fighting back may give you the opportunity to escape. All hits and kicks must be forceful and aimed at vulnerable areas, such as the groin, eyes or the instep.

Could You Effectively Defend Yourself If Attacked?

Self Defense
Have you trained enough, are you fit enough to successfully defend your self if attacked? Only you know your capabilities. Take a self defense course. Learn, practice and then decide if it is for you. You can obtain information on locally available self-defense classes in the campus and local telephone directory.

WEAPONS
Some people carry weapons to ward off attackers. Unless you are trained and not afraid to use these weapons, they can be very dangerous. The attacker might be able to turn them against you. Also weapons are prohibited on the University of Florida campus.
Chemical sprays have become available as a means of self -defense. Unfortunately, they can provide a false sense of security. Consider the following:

Wind direction is a factor (the wind could blow the spray on you);

Effective range is questionable;

As with any weapons, user may be liable for its use;

The possibility that these sprays may not work on all assailants;

Shelf life of products should be considered;

Must be available in potential victim’s hand at all times;

Effectiveness of individual products is questionable.

Submitting to an Attack
If you believe you might get hurt defending yourself or if you’re afraid to fight back, don’t. Victims who do not resist should never feel guilty; it is the assailant who committed the crime.

IF YOU HAVE BEEN ATTACKED . . .
Many victims of sexual battery don’t know where to turn for help or what to do. You may be afraid or ashamed to talk to anyone, or want to act as though nothing has happened.

If You’ve Been Sexually Battered

Go to a place of safety.

Do not douche, change clothes, shower, or do anything to change your appearance. If you do, you may destroy evidence (seminal fluid, hair, clothing fibers, etc . . .) that the authorities may need to arrest and convict your attacker.

Do not disturb the physical surroundings in which the attack took place. If you do, you may destroy valuable evidence.

Report the crime to law enforcement. This does not mean you must proceed with prosecution.

Contact a Crime Victim Advocate.

Seek counseling. Even if you don’t report the battery to police and press charges, you should contact any local crisis center that can provide you with assistance and and other services.

Stalking

Florida Statutes define stalking as:

Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or harasses another person commits the offense of stalking. This is a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by a maximum fine of $1000.00 and or 1 year in jail.

Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or harasses another, and makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in fear of death or bodily injury, has committed the offense of aggravated stalking, a felony of the third degree, punishable by a maximum fine of $5000.00 and/or 5 years in state prison.

To “harass” means to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that causes substantial emotional distress in such person and serves no legitimate purpose.

The term “stalking” is commonly used to describe specific kinds of behavior directed at a particular person, such as harassing or threatening another person. Virtually any unwanted contact between a stalker and their victim which directly or indirectly communicates a threat or places the victim in fear can generally be referred to as stalking.

A recent study by the National Institute of Justice found that stalking was far more prevalent than anyone had imagined. The report found 8% of American women and 2% of American men will be stalked in their lifetimes. The majority of stalkers had been in relationships with their victims. However, significant percentages had never met their victims, or were acquaintances, neighbors, friends or co-workers.

Stalking is not new. What is new is that, until recently it was not seen as a distinctly separate crime. Previously, stalking was referred to as harassment, annoyance or, in some cases, simply as domestic violence. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, numerous high-profile cases involving celebrities began to catch the attention of the media. With the release of films such as Fatal Attraction, Cape Fear, and Sleeping with the Enemy and coverage by the news media, “stalking” has become a household word.

Stalkers tend to fall into two distinct categories.Simple obsession stalkers are distinguished by the fact that a personal or romantic relationship existed between the stalker and the victim before the stalking behavior began. Simple Obsession Stalkers represent the second category and comprise 70 -80 percent of all stalking cases. While this kind of stalker may or may not have psychological disorders, all clearly have personality disorders.The Love obsession stalkers fixates on a casual acquaintance or a person unknown to the perpetrator. This type of stalker is often seen when celebrities are stalking victims.

Unfortunately, there is no single psychological or behavioral profile for stalkers. Every stalker is different. This makes it virtually impossible to devise a single effective strategy that can be applied to every situation. It is vital that victims of stalking immediately seek the advice of local victim advocates and law enforcement who can help to devise a safety plan and work to halt the harassment. Any persons who suspect or believe that they are currently being stalked should report all contacts and incidents to their local law enforcement authorities.

Personality Traits and Behavioral Characteristics of Stalkers

  • Socially maladjusted and inept;
  • Emotionally immature;
  • Often subject to feelings of powerlessness;
  • Unable to succeed in relationships by socially-acceptable means;
  • Jealous, bordering on paranoid; and
  • Extremely insecure about themselves and suffering from low self-esteem.

Just as with most domestic violence cases, stalkers are the most dangerous when they are first deprived of their source of power and self-esteem; in other words, the time when their victims determine to physically remove themselves from the offender’s presence on a permanent basis by leaving the relationship. Stalking cases that emerge from domestic violence situations constitute the most common and potentially lethal class of stalking cases.

How Do I File a Complaint Under Florida’s Stalking Statute?

Contact your local law enforcement agency to report a suspected stalker. You will need to provide dates and times of specific behaviors in order to establish the pattern of harassing activity. This will establish “probable cause” the stalker engaged in conduct that is illegal under Florida’s stalking law. If a law enforcement official does not witness such conduct first-hand, it may be up to the victim to provide the evidence necessary. Documentation of stalking should be saved and given to law enforcement. Documentation of the actions of the stalker may be useful in future complaints, for evidentiary or to establish credibility. Documentation may take the form of photos of destroyed property, photos of any injuries inflicted on the victim by the perpetrator, answering machine messages saved on tape, letters or notes written by the perpetrator. A victim should keep a written log of any crimes or suspicious activities committed by the stalker.

What Can I Do?

While a stalking victim may not be in imminent danger, the potential always exists. Making a contingency plan may help. Suggested items to include in such a plan are:

  • Take all threats seriously.
  • Travel with others or inform a friend of your departure and expected arrival times.
  • Report all suspicious activity to law enforcement.
  • Keep notes, answering machine tapes or other items that document the stalkers actions.
  • Alert critical people, who may be useful in formulating a contingency plan, such as: law enforcement, employers, family, friends, or neighbors, and security personnel.

Preventive Measures

  • Install solid core doors with dead bolts on all exterior doors of your home.
  • Install adequate outside lighting.
  • Trim back bushes and vegetation around residence.
  • Maintain an unlisted phone number.
  • Notify local law enforcement, but also keep a written log of harassing calls and any answering machine tapes of calls with the stalker’s voice and messages.
  • Treat any threats as legitimate and inform law enforcement immediately.
  • Vary travel routes, stores and restaurants, etc., which are regularly used. Limit time walking, jogging, alone etc.
  • Inform a trusted neighbor or coworker about the situation. Provide them with a photo or description of the suspect and any possible vehicles he/she may drive.
  • If residing in an apartment with an on-site property manager, provide the manager with a picture of the suspect.
  • Have co-workers screen all calls and visitors.

For assistance with this crime or ant other occurring on campus contact the University Police Department at 329-1111 or 911 for emergencies. The Department’s Victim Advocate is also available 24 hours a day and can assist with dealing with a stalker.

How to prevent a carjacking

Unlike the vehicle theft where a criminal takes a vehicle when the driver is not present, carjacking is a violent crime where a vehicle is taken directly from the driver. If someone demands your vehicle, let them have it. No item of property is worth injury. After all, your property can be replaced.

  • Always be aware of your surroundings.
  • Leave several car lengths between your car and the car in front of you.
  • Drive in the center lane when possible, not at the curb.
  • When shopping, park as close as possible to the entrance in a well-lighted area.
  • When approaching your parked car, check the area; if you see something suspicious, don’t go near it.
  • Act with certainty; know what you are doing. Most thieves select a victim who acts timid, frightened or unsure.
  • Keep your car keys separate from your other keys and have them ready for a quick entry.
  • Keep your car doors locked at all times. Keep the windows up.
  • If you are approached while you are in your car, lean on the horn to create a commotion until the danger passes.
  • If you get bumped from behind do not get out of you car. Signal the other driver to follow you. Go to the nearest police or fire station or some other area of safety where there are other people.
  • When riding in your car do not keep purses, cell phones or other valuables on the seat and visible through the window.
  • If you are pushed into your car try to escape out the other side and then move away from the car.
  • Avoid areas you know or feel are unsafe and when possible travel with a friend.
  • Don’t be a hero. No property is worth your life.

Remember that safety precautions should be used at all times. If something should happen to you use your head, stay calm and take care of yourself.

How to protect yourself in a parking garage

  • Utilizing parking garages is often a necessity on campus. Floowing these safety techniques could be your best defense.
  • Look around your vehicle for any suspicious activity. If you see someone loitering around your vehicle, walk past until they leave.
  • Don’t park next to a van’s sliding door.
  • Change from high heels to low flats or even sneakers when leaving work. They are better to run in.
  • At night, leave your office or building in the company of others. Don’t leave alone after dark. If possible, have someone from your building security escort you, or call for police assistance.
  • Approach your vehicle with your keys already in your hand.
  • Do a quick scan of your vehicle’s interior before unlocking the door. Be sure to look in the back seat.
  • Keep your doors locked and your windows shut.
  • Be suspicious of anyone approaching your vehicle, whether passing out leaflets or asking for donations. Always leave the car windows up.
  • If you must leave a key with a parking attendant, leave only your vehicle’s ignition key. Do not leave anything attached to it with your name and address.

How to protect yourself while using an automated teller

Safety precautions when using outside automated tellers is a must. Utilize these safety techniques. This information and your common sense may be your best defense.

  • Avoid using an ATM when by yourself. Either take someone with you or only use an ATM when others are around.
  • If possible, avoid using an ATM after dark. If you must, choose one that is well lighted and does not have tall bushes nearby.
  • When you arrive at an ATM, look around. If you see anything that makes you uncomfortable or anyone who looks suspicious, do not stop. Either use an ATM at a different location or come back later. Notify the authorities.
  • Have your access card and any other documents you need ready when you approach an ATM. While you are fumbling with a wallet or purse, you are easy game for a thief.
  • If someone else is using the ATM when you arrive, avoid standing right behind them. Give them enough space to conduct their transaction in privacy.
  • Even while using the ATM, stay alert to your surroundings. Look up and around every few seconds while transacting your business.
  • Protect your Personal Identification Number (PIN). Do not enter your PIN if anyone else can see the screen. Shield your PIN from onlookers by using your body.
  • When your transaction is finished, be sure you have your card and your receipt, then leave immediately. Avoid counting or otherwise displaying large amounts of cash.
  • As you leave, keep a look out. Be alert for anything or anyone who appears suspicious. If you think you are being followed, go to an area with a lot of people and call the police.

Robbery prevention for individuals

When someone by force or threat takes property from you, that is a robbery. Many people will say, “I’ve been robbed” when referring to property taken from them when they were not present. The distinction is a small one to the lay person. However it makes a big difference in the way the police will respond to your call for help. When you report a robbery it is seen as a potentially life threatening incident and will get highest priority.

Personal robbery prevention can be summed up by a list of common sense tips. These suggestions may seem simplistic but they work!

  • Stay tuned in to your surroundings. Being aware of what is happening around you.
  • Walk briskly and confidently. Give an appearance of “don’t mess with me”.
  • Avoid going to ATM machines after dark.
  • When you are traveling on foot or in your car stay tuned in to your surroundings. If you sense something wrong leave the area immediately.
  • Don’t flash large sums of cash, jewelry or other expensive items. They attract unwanted attention and may give a potential robber his target.
  • Travel in groups to and from clubs. Avoid isolated areas, short cuts and deserted parking lots.
  • If you have to use isolated areas, such as when you leave work late, have someone walk with you to your car. This applies to men and to women alike. Anyone can be the victim of a robbery.
  • If you see someone suspicious, walk away. Go to an area where there are other people, bright lights or a telephone. Don’t be afraid to call the police if you suspect you are being followed. It could be the prelude to a robbery.
  • If you are the victim of a robbery follow the instructions of the robber.
  • Do not argue or attempt to fight with your assailant.
  • Try to remember what the robber looks like, what he/she was wearing and call the police as quickly as possible.
  • If you need a safety escort, please call UFPD 24/7 at (352) 392-1111, or the Student Nighttime Auxiliary Patrol (SNAP) between the hours of 6pm-3am at (352) 392-SNAP
  • Please follow UFPD on social media for safety information & other police services info: @UFPublicSafety on Twitter  & UFPublicSafety on Facebook
  • Please also follow UF Alert (@UFAlert) for emergency information. Even if you are not a UF student, you can subscribe to the system to receive alerts.

These tips can not anticipate every possible situation. They can give you a basis for a plan to avoid personal robbery.

How to protect yourself while running

Running is a fun activity that benefits the mind and the body. When you jog, run or walk remember and practice some simple safety precautions.

  • Avoid running at night if possible. Your ability to avoid danger and vulnerability to traffic accidents is increased after the sun goes down.
  • Always carry identification or write your name, telephone number and blood type on the inside of your running shoe. Include any medical information.
  • Always run with a partner.
  • Carry money for a telephone call.
  • Run in familiar areas.
  • Always remain aware of your surroundings. Stay alert. The more aware you are the less vulnerable you become.
  • Act with certainty; be confident. Most criminals select a victim who acts timid, frightened or unsure.
  • Avoid unpopulated areas, deserted, dark streets and over grown trails. Run clear of parked cars and bushes.
  • Don’t wear headsets. Use your ears to be more aware of your surroundings.
  • Avoid verbal harassment. Use discretion in acknowledging strangers. Look directly at others and be observant.
  • Wear reflective materials when running at night. The ability of others to see you at night is directly related to the amount of reflective and light color material you wear.
  • Trust your feelings. If an area feels bad or a person makes you uneasy, listen to your feelings and get away.
  • Carry a whistle or noisemaker. If you are harassed or bothered use the noisemaker to attract attention. An attacker does not want attention.

Remember that safety precautions should be used at all times. If something should happen to you use your head, stay calm and take care of yourself.

How to protect your children

Our children are our greatest assets. Protecting them and teaching them safety techniques is our responsibility.
Teach children never to talk to strangers.

  • Teach children never to ride their bikes alone; always ride with a buddy and always wear their helmet.
  • Teach children to never play in the street.
  • Teach children to always look both ways and watch for cars before entering or crossing the street.
  • Establish neighborhood boundaries in which a child may play.
  • Teach children to never open the door to a stranger when home alone.
  • Teach children that, when answering the telephone, never give out any personal information or let the person who calls know if they are alone.
  • Teach children to be sure to let their parents know exactly where they will be and for how long, and to always call and let them know if they decide to go somewhere else.
  • If a child should see a gun, teach children to stop, don’t touch, call an adult.
  • Teach children to never get into a car with someone they don’t know.
  • If a child feels threatened, teach children to run away as fast as they can.
  • Develop a secret password that must be used if someone unfamiliar is to pick them up from school or play.
  • If a child comes home and something about their house doesn’t look right, teach them to go immediately to a neighbor’s for help.

Date Rape

A national survey indicated that 15% of women students on college campuses reported being victims of rape and 12% reported being victims of attempted rape.  Fifty-seven percent of the incidents occured during dates; and 75% of the assailants and 55% of the victims had used alcohol or other drugs prior to the assault.  (Warsaw, R. I Never Called it Rape. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1994.)  Other studies have produced similar results.  More than half of all rape and sexual assault incidents occurred within one mile of the survivor’s home or in the survivor’s home. (Greenfield, L.A. Sex Offenses and Offenders: An Analysis of Data on Rape and Sexual Assault, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1997.)

The most current statistics published in Florida are the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s (FDLE) numbers collected from law enforcement agencies throughout Florida.  These statistics only reflect sexual offenses that were reported to law enforcement.

Forcible rape occurs once every 1 hour and 38 minutes throughout the state of Florida. (FDLE Crime Clock, 2010)

Total Forcible Sex Offenses Reported in Florida, 2010*

  • Forcible rape: 5,074
  • Attempted rape: 295
  • Forcible sodomy: 1,173
  • Forcible fondling: 3,343
  • Total Sexual Offenses Reported: 9,885

Total Forcible Sex Offenses Reported in Alachua County, 2010*

  • Forcible rape: 121
  • Attempted rape: 9
  • Forcible sodomy: 24
  • Forcible fondling: 32
  • Total Sexual Offenses Reported: 186

(*Florida Statistical Analysis Center: FDLE, Crime in Florida, Florida Uniform Crime Report; Tallahassee, FL)

Unfortunately, sexual battery, also known as rape, is a subject surrounded by misinformation. The information presented here is intended to help you understand the facts. Armed with facts you can make the best choices for your situation.

Date/Acquaintance rape describes when an individual is forced by someone he or she knows to participate in unwanted sexual activity. Threats and intimidation, administration of alcohol or other drugs, as well as physical force or restraint is often present in an acquaintance rape situation. Acquaintance rape is the most common form of rape on college campuses. Acquaintance rape occurs most often during or after social events such as parties at bars, fraternity/sorority parties, or other places where students may congregate while using alcohol or drugs. It can even occur on a date.

There are expectations about what men’s and women’s roles should be, and at times these expectations conflict with true feelings. It is the responsibility of both men and women to communicate their feelings directly and to respect each other’s right to say NO. Always remember, “No Means No”!

Myths and Reality About Date Rape

Myth: Date rape only happens between people who just met or don’t know each other well.

*Reality: Rape (sexual intercourse with a person against his/her will through the use of threat, force, and/or intimidation) has nothing to do with how well the person knows the assailant. It’s not uncommon for a person to be raped by someone he or she has been dating for a long time, or by a former lover, or by a spouse.

Myth: There are many false reports of rape, especially date rape.

*Reality: In the article False Reports: Moving Beyond the Issue to Successfully Investigate and Prosecute Non-Stranger Sexual Assault (Lonsway, K., Archambault, J., Lisak, D., 2009), the research suggested that the rate of false reporting for sexual assault is in the range of 2-8%.  Additionally, in the 1996 National Criminal Victimization Survey, the Bureau of Justice Statistics proposed that only 30.7% of all rapes are reported to the police. 

Myth: Women can easily avoid situations that can lead to rape.

*Reality: Most women who have been raped were in an environment they considered safe and were raped by someone they thought they could trust.

Myth: Women are more likely to be raped by black men than by white men.

*Reality: Ninety-nine percent of people who rape are men, and 60% of male perpetrators of rape are Caucasian.  (Greenfeld, L. A. Sex Offenses and Offenders: An Analysis of Data on Rape and Sexual Assault, Washington, D. C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1997.) http://www.oneinfourusa.org/statistics.php

Myth: Only women can be raped.

*Reality: Men can be and are sexually assaulted, and not only by men who are gay. Rape is not about sexual orientation or sexual desire; it is an act of power and control, in which the victim is brutalized and humiliated.

Tips for preventing Date Rape

  • Know your sexual intentions and limits. You have the right to say “No” to any unwanted sexual contact. If you are uncertain about what you want, ask the person to respect your feelings.
  • Don’t get stranded.  If you don’t know your date well, consider driving your own car and asking to meet your date in a public place – if your date hesitates, don’t waiver. If you do accept a ride from a date, always carry some money so that you can call a cab if you need to cut the date short.
  • Communicate your limits firmly and directly. If you say “No,” say it like you mean it. Be careful of mixed messages. Back up your words with a firm tone of voice and clear body language. Remember that some people think that drinking, dressing provocatively, or going to a private room indicates a willingness to have sex. Be especially careful to communicate your limits and intentions clearly in such situations.
  • Don’t rely on ‘ESP’ to get your message across. Don’t assume that your date will automatically know how you feel, or will eventually “get the message” without your having to tell him/her.
  • Stay sober on a date. Alcohol impairs judgment and memory. A victim of rape who was intoxicated may have his/her credibility attacked in court.
  • Listen to your gut feelings. If you feel uncomfortable or think you may be at risk, leave the situation immediately and go to a safe place.
  • Don’t be afraid to ‘make waves’ if you feel threatened. If you feel you are being pressured or coerced into sexual activity against your will, don’t hesitate to state your feelings and get out of the situation. Better a few minutes of social awkwardness or embarrassment than the trauma of sexual assault.
  • Attend parties with friends you can trust. Agree to look out for one another. Try to leave with a group, rather than alone or with someone you don’t know very well.
  • Decide whether you would fight back. Most experts agree that this is a choice that each person must make for himself/herself. If you are confident, consider learning self-defense techniques that provide you with an option if you are attacked.

Additionally:

  • Listen carefully. Take the time to hear what your date is saying. If you feel he/she is not being direct or is giving you a “mixed message”, ask for clarification.
  • Use common sense. Realize that you do not have the right to force anyone to have sex just because you paid for dinner or drinks.
  • Don’t fall for common stereotypes. When a person says “No”, don’t assume that he/she really means, “Yes.” No means no. Always.
  • Remember that date rape is a crime. It is never acceptable to use force in sexual situations, no matter what the circumstances.
  • Don’t make assumptions about a person’s behavior. Don’t automatically assume that a man/woman wants to have sex just because he/she is drinking, dresses provocatively, or agrees to go to your room. Don’t assume that just because a man/woman has had sex with you previously he/she is willing to have sex with you again. Also don’t assume that just because a man/woman consents to kissing or other sexual intimacies he/she is willing to have sexual intercourse.
  • Be aware of your date. Having sex with someone who is mentally or physically incapable of giving consent is rape. If you have sex with someone who is drugged, intoxicated, passed out, incapable of saying “No,” or unaware of what is happening around him/her, you may be guilty of rape.
  • Be especially careful in group situations. Be prepared to resist pressure from friends to participate in violent or criminal acts.
  • Get involved if you believe someone is at risk. If you see someone in trouble at a party or see a friend using force or pressuring someone into sexual contact, don’t be afraid to intervene. You may save the person from the trauma of sexual assault and your friend from the ordeal of criminal prosecution.

Protecting Yourself

  • Avoid excessive use of alcohol or drugs.  They interfere with your ability to communicate and increase your chances of being assaulted. 
  • Trust your instincts.  If a situation feels wrong or dangerous, it may be.  Get away, call for help, and listen to your instincts.
  • Pay attention to what is happening around you.  Do not put yourself in a vulnerable situation.
  • Make conscious and active choices.  Say what you mean and express what you feel.
  • Be assertive and sure of what you want to do.
  • Do not imagine that because someone has spent a lot of time, attention, or money on you that it obligates you sexually.  You have the right to say “NO”.
  • Make plans ahead of time so that someone will know where you are.
  • Most of all do not be afraid to say “NO”.

So-called Date Rape Drugs, such as GHB, Roofies, Ketamine and others, are chemical compounds that amplify the effect of other drugs, usually alcohol. These drugs pose particularly significant problems because they are colorless, odorless, and easy to place in an unsuspecting person’s beverage. If you or a friend find you are intoxicated beyond what you might expect based on what and how much you have consumed, or if you become confused, dizzy, or ill for any unexplained reason, seek medical assistance, tell a friend, and get help.

If you have been raped or drugged, report the crime immediately to the police and seek medical attention. On campus the University of Florida Police will provide assistance to you including contacting the department’s Office of Victim Services.

How to protect yourself while shopping

Shopping can be a positive or negative experience depending upon what takes place while you visit the various stores. By following the safety tips listed below, we hope your next shopping trip will be a positive and enjoyable experience.

  • Avoid shopping alone. Try to shop with a friend or relative.
  • Park your vehicle in a well-lighted area. Put radar detectors and cellular telephones out of sight.
  • Know your surroundings. Keep an eye on the people in front of as well as behind you.
  • Carry your purse close to your body. Don’t swing it loosely. Don’t flash large amounts of cash.
  • Walk with confidence. Avoid talking to strangers.
  • Approach your vehicle with your keys already in your hand.
  • Try not to carry too many packages. Place all packages out of sight in your vehicle, preferably in the trunk.
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and your windows shut.
  • If you see anything suspicious or if something just doesn’t feel right, leave immediately and contact security or the police.

Robbery prevention for businesses

Robbery is the unlawful taking of property from someone by the use of force or the threat of violence. This is different from theft because the property is taken directly from a person and there is a threat directed toward the victim. The measures described may not be applicable for every business; however, there are certain basic preventive measures that apply to all cash handling situations.

How to Prevent a Business Robbery

  • Maintain visibility throughout the store. Keep all doors and windows clear of signs and posters that can hinder visibility. Maintaining a clear field of vision allows people outside to see inside the store. This fact alone may deter some potential robbers. Also, keep aisles clear of signs and displays. Robbers don’t like to be observed and the elimination of hiding places help to ensure they stay away.
  • Greet customers as they enter your store making direct eye contact. This serves two purposes. It improves customer relations. More importantly, it sends a message to any person entering the store that they have been recognized.
  • Keep the facility well lit. Poor lighting can hamper visibility and can create an environment that may be inviting to a robber.
  • Develop a cash control program. There is no better way to help prevent a robbery than by keeping the smallest amount of cash on the premises. No more than $50.00 should be kept in a cash register at any given time. Post a notice to that effect visible to the public.
  • Inform employees not to accept large bills during transactions. If money must be kept on the premises, store it in a locked safe and make frequent safe drops or bank deposits.
  • Make bank deposits on a routine basis utilizing either an armored car service or, if this is not feasible, vary routes to the bank and times of deposit. Take a second person along whenever possible.
  • If an alarm system is in use, clearly post a warning on the outside door of the facility. If the facility also has a duress alarm, do not use it during a robbery unless the situation is life threatening. Always report a non-life threatening crime over the telephone.
  • Remain alert and watchful for suspicious activity. If a suspicious person is observed, notify the police. Be cautious about answering questions concerning the facility. Questions relating to opening and closing times, the facility alarm system, how many employees are on duty at any given time, etc., Such questions should be red flags and should be a warning signals.
  • Keep side and back doors locked to prevent undetected entry. The person in charge of the facility should have the only keys to these doors.
  • Take precautions during opening and closing of the facility. When opening the facility, always have two persons present. One person should enter the facility and conduct a visual check and then signal to the other using a predetermined sign that all is okay or another sign that there is trouble. During closing check all back rooms, restrooms, and closets to ensure that no one remains in the facility.

What to do and what not to do during a Robbery

DO:

  • Remain calm.There is no need to bring undue attention to the situation. To do so could cause panic and endanger lives.
  • Cooperate with the robber. Robbers seldom hurt people who are willing to cooperate.
  • Handle the entire procedure as if you were with a customer. Slowing down your actions in the hope that the police will arrive before the robber leaves only endangers lives.
  • Observe what the robber looks like and develop a mental picture so that an accurate description can be given to the police.
  • Tell the robber about any possible surprises such as a second employee who is working in a back room. Also, inform him/her if you must move in an unanticipated way.

DO NOT:

  • Don’t argue or fight with the robber. Any amount of money is not worth personal injury.
  • Don’t try to persuade the robber to give himself/herself up. Once a robbery has started, it is too late for a robber to change his/her mind.
  • Don’t chase or follow the robber. Police could mistake you for the robber.

What to do after a Robbery

  • Protect the crime scene. Leave everything as it is. Don’t try to clean up or touch any possible evidence.
  • Discontinue business and lock the facility.
  • Call the Police immediately at 911 or 352.392.1111.
  • Ask witnesses to stay until an officer arrives. If unable to do so, write down their names, addresses, and phone numbers.
  • Write down a description of the robber including sex, race, height, weight, build, eye and hair color, scars or tattoos, jewelry, approximate age, and clothing. If possible, note in which direction the suspect fled.

Armed with these tips you may be able to prevent a robbery of your business. You also have some basic guidelines for what to do if a robbery occurs.