Missoula has recently become an unsettling location for violent sexual attacks. How can we protect ourselves?

The Department of Justice recently revealed that most rapes occur on college campuses. Generally the victims, according to the report, are young freshman and sophomores. And while this makes sense due to the new and unfamiliar environment coupled with being introduced to the potentially dangerous new people they come across, it's not just our local campus that women, and yes, even men have to worry about.

There are numerous (arguably common sense) methods that can help individuals protect themselves from rape, some just may not be aware of what they might have at their disposal to stay safe. Here a just a few ways that citizens of Missoula can prevent an attack from occurring.

  • 1

    Party Environments

    Whatever you do, never accept a drink from anyone you don't know. Sure, you may know that person from a mutual friend, or perhaps share a class with them, but it's anyone's guess as to what their motives might be. Fill up you own cup, get the drink from the waiter or walk directly up to the bar and get your own beverage. Also make sure not to leave your drink away from your eyesight, not even for a second. If by chance you do step away from your drink, don't take any chances. Just toss it.

  • 2

    Outdoors

    If you are on foot, walk with a purpose. Don't give any indication that you are lost or just killing time. Something as simple as this kind of body language will cause the potential rapist to think that you might be near friends, or are not far from your destination. Also, steer clear of any dark streets and avoid walking alone in the dark at all costs. Stay in well lit areas. It is also recommended that you have your friends keep tabs on your location. Tell them you are on your way, or where you are heading.

  • 3

    At Home

    Always have your lights on outside, and make sure that there are little to no shaded obstacles within your front or back yards that a possible rapist can seek cover near. Lock your windows, and close the blinds at night. If anyone comes knocking, never open it without asking them to identify themselves from behind the door. We also suggest that you install a peephole in your door if one is not already accessible.

  • 4

    Arm Yourself

    You don't necessarily need a gun, but perhaps a small knife or something even as simple as hairspray can deter a rapist. If you can, have mace either in your purse or on your key chain. Small cans of mace can easily be found in most Missoula department stores like Ace Hardware and Wal-Mart.

  • 5

    Outside Your Workplace or School

    It might not be a bad idea to go in pairs to ensure that each of you are able to make out to your cars safely. Perhaps you can request that a security guard oversees your travels outside the building. If you are totally alone with no one to help then make sure you have your car keys in hand, possibly with one key between each of your knuckles to create a useful weapon in self defense. Make sure you don't open your car doors remotely unless you are right next to the vehicle.

  • 6

    Don't Wear Headphones In The Dark

    This safety rule is all the more important especially if you are walking in areas with less people around. Even in densely populated environments it's not a bad idea to keep the volume low enough so you can be a little more aware of your environment.

  • 7

    Use Your Gut

    You know that sinking feeling you get when you feel like you are in a bad place? Or that uncomfortable feeling when you are around a certain person or people? Follow those instincts. If it just feels wrong, get out.