“I was that cute, bubbly and naïve girl. You know, the kind of girl that is so full of life and everyone loves? It was my junior year of college and I thought I had the world in my hands and everything was going so well. You know what? I had dreams so large that I knew I could become anything I wanted if I just studied hard enough.”
“Then it happened… I was not prepared for the event that changed my life… I was sexually assaulted.”
“I should have seen the red flags and known, but back then no one even mentioned anything about rape to me and I didn’t have any training in self-defense. It wasn’t even on my mind that something like that could happen to me.”
“Afterwards, I was angry and depressed and no longer that bubbly girl that everyone loved. This violent encounter changed my life like no other event and the reason I share this with you is so you will take some action and not let this happen.” –Shelby Gallagher
This could be your daughter, your friend, your niece or granddaughter. Heck, this could be your son, your nephew or grandson. Violence and sexual assault do not discriminate.
If you are reading this blog, you likely aren’t in denial about personal safety. Your acceptance of the reality that someone could possibly harm you or someone you know is the greatest asset you bring to protecting your loved ones! Mindset is everything when it comes to being empowered and protecting your life.
What You Can Do Today
Be safe and stay aware. The following information will help you, your friends and your loved ones prevent a sexual assault from occurring:
- We want to say “don’t drink alcohol”, but for many this is like telling a child not to step in a water puddle. If you choose to drink while you are out socializing, you should never accept drinks from strangers, always have your drink close at hand so nobody can drop a drug into it. Don’t drink the party punch. Rapists have confessed that they prefer to serve this to get their victims drunk fast. Alcohol suppresses your ability to assess the situation, notice warning signs and fight for yourself. Alcohol is a reported factor in many sexual assaults.
- When going to an event or party, always have one or two people that will stay completely sober and have them watch over their friends. This means the sober people will not accept a drink (even non-alcoholic) from someone at the party because that can be drugged as well.
- Keep track of your friends and never let anyone go into a secluded room with someone else if they are drinking. This is where most sexual assaults occur and it is a fringe area meaning it is a higher risk area for criminal activity.
- Trust your intuition. If you feel something is wrong, it likely is. Unlike worry, your intuition always guides you. Remove yourself from the situation and get to a safe space as quickly as you can. If you get a bad feeling about someone or a situation then leave.
- Attend parties with friends you can trust. Agree to ‘look out’ for one another. If you go out with someone you’ve just met or don’t know very well – like a new friend or roommate, then it is important you be the sober person.
- Always leave the bar or a party with a group, rather than alone or with someone you don’t know very well. When leaving work or school be sure to use situational awareness and check your surroundings.
- Respect the person when she or he says “No” to sexual activity and comply. “No” means “No”. A tactic of a predator is to disregard your “No”. You need to have strong body language and command presence when you say “No!” and show you mean it.
- If you see someone in a vulnerable position, find a non-threatening way to help (of course you may need to be threatening if the situation escalates). Don’t ignore a potential case of rape. Get involved if you believe someone is at risk.
- Take self-defense training so you know how to protect yourself and fight. Palm strike and “smackage to the package” should be in your vocabulary.
- Know how a predator operates. One of our most popular blog posts addresses this topic. Click here for the post.
- Above all respect your body and your life. Click on this link for great advice and education relating to rape.
Some people believe that complying with an attacker’s demands is a better strategy to get out of the situation unharmed. Overwhelming research suggests that this is a very dangerous viewpoint to believe in:
“Findings suggest that women who resist their attacker are significantly more likely than non-resisters to avoid rape completion. This finding held across analyses for physical resistance, verbal resistance, or resistance of any kind.” Cited here.
More specific information about the efficacy of different types of resistance are these (hat tip to Fortress Defense Consultants, research is cited here):
Victims crying or pleading were raped 96% of the time.
Victims who loudly screamed were raped between 44% and 50% of the time.
Victims who ran were raped 15% of the time.
Victims who forcefully resisted (without a weapon) were raped 14% of the time.
Victims who resisted with knives or guns were raped less than 1% of the time.
Everyone’s mindset and skill sets are different. Do some mental rehearsal starting with:
If you or your loved ones were attacked, what would you have been willing to have done, trained, invested in to have made the outcome be your avoidance of physical harm?
You’ll do whatever it takes, right? Now that you know, get out there and find the tools, invest in the training, and live the mindset of being your own first responder every day!
If rape does occur, you need to report it to law enforcement immediately. The primary reason many predators get away with the crime is that so many victims do not report the rape. The vicious cycle continues; the predator is off the radar and free to assault others.
What is the best advice Shelby Gallagher wants to give you as a result of her devastating experience?
“I needed a lot of counseling to help me heal, and I could write an entire book on the therapy that I went through. The thing that helped take my life back was taking a self-defense course. This empowerment cleaned the ghosts out that haunted me, and it helped reclaim myself. Twenty years later, I have written about my experience so it will help others.”
Look for Shelby Gallagher’s book titled A Great State that is a fantastic read. Shelby’s story will give you more detail of her tragedy, her journey, and she will share with you her wisdom on how to live an empowered life. Also, listen to our podcast with more information here. Join us as we follow her excellent work on Facebook and Twitter.
Beth is the founder of Pretty Loaded. On a mission to install strength, awareness, and confidence, Beth began her journey as an educator and speaker after a close encounter with a would-be predator. She has trained thousands of people in person, and through her online training around the world. Beth loves spending her time reading, running, cooking, and painting. She is married and has four wonderful young girls, organic chickens, and lives on an organic produce farm and vineyard.