Everyone seems to give women great--and by "great" we mean terrible--advice these days for how to prevent college rape. And as you probably know, college rape isn't abating--indeed, it seems a new story breaks weekly that's more horrifying than the last. Because there's a good chance that you or someone you know will be raped while you're in college, we decided to provide some actually useful advice.
Content Warning: The following tips may look shockingly similar to the terrible advice that women are routinely given to avoid getting raped. That's on purpose.
1. Put on your Rape-Reporting Face
Since your anti-rape face failed to prevent your rape, it's time to work on your rape-reporting face. A rape-reporting face must convey a variety of emotions at once, so getting it right is going to take some practice. You must look sad, but not so weepy that you're unreliable. You must seem frightened, but not so frightened that you might have traumatic memory loss. If you come across too cold, your listeners might think you're inventing the rape because you're vengeful.
If you cry too much and seem out of control, you might be headed for a psychiatric facility. This is why we recommend the ten-to-twenty tear rule. Keep your number of tears in the ten-to-twenty range, and you'll be fine.
If figuring out the correct rape-reporting face seems difficult, you're right! Basically, it's nearly impossible to get a rape-reporting face right unless you're Meryl Streep with multiple Oscars. You should still try, though, because how you come across to the police and school administrators often determines whether they take your case seriously. Be sure to practice in the mirror before you go.
2. Dress Appropriately
Nothing you were wearing last night, not even your anti-rape nail polish, could prevent your rape.
Now you need to think about what to wear when you report your rape. Definitely avoid yoga pants and dresses. You won't want to feel like anyone is looking at your body because after you are raped you will want to feel like you are dead. Additionally, if you "look pretty," the people at the rape reporting office might say that "you were asking for it" and tell you to dress more modestly.
Remember this rule: Old sweats = rape wear. Find the largest, most shapeless sweatsuit that you can, ideally one cut for a man. Furthermore, the sweatshirt will need to be of the hoodie variety. That way, when you pass your rapist on campus, you can pull up your hood and hide your face.
Don't have a hoodie? It's OK! University police have suggested that certain hats work just as well for fending off unwanted attention from rapists.
3. Bring a Buddy
The buddy system obviously failed you when you got raped. Where was your buddy during your date with the guy you thought was kind and trustworthy? Couldn't she have sat on the edge of the bed and read Marie Claire while you guys got it on and made sure nothing rapey happened?
Well, too late now. It's time to break out the rape-reporting buddy system. Reporting your rape is easier when you bring a friend. But what friend should you bring? This is a tough decision. Let's start with your buddy's sex--do you bring a girl friend or a guy friend? You're going to be talking with total strangers about violent sexual acts that happened to your body. Having a guy friend there might make you even more uncomfortable. But, people listen to men--men have "gravitas"--so bringing along a guy might make your rape report more credible.
But if talking about sex acts in front of a guy friend is just too much for your post-assault-self to handle (it was for us), then you have to select a girl friend. But which one? Your friend who could take on three drunk guys in a bar with her bare hands and leave them crying on the floor? She'll stand up for you if you get bullied during the reporting process. But--here's a strange thing--college administrators are secretly afraid of you. You can make their school look bad or start a media firestorm, which is their worst nightmare. Bringing an intimidating friend along might actually make them be less helpful to you.
So do you bring your quiet, meeker friend, who will let you do all the talking and hold your hand? She's loyal and kind. But what happens when they blame you and ask you how rape is possible without proper lubrication? Will she stand up for you?
If you're starting to feel like you can't win, that's because you can't! Administrators really don't want to hear about you being raped. They wish it didn't happen almost as much as you do--just for different reasons. They might try to talk you out of reporting to the police. They might try to convince you that it didn't happen like you thought it did--especially if your rapist is a famous athlete.
So whatever you do, don't go alone.
4. Ask for a Better Rape Whistle
You will want to show the people at the campus rape reporting office that you are serious about not making yourself a target. So ask for a better rape whistle. According to at least one college, the best rape whistles are made of a "high-quality brass." If you blew yours before your rape, and no one came to your aid, perhaps it was because of your whistle's poor metallurgy. Request a high-quality brass whistle right away.
Reminder: Be sure to also ask whether you will be subject to "disciplinary action" for blowing the whistle outside of a narrow band of what your school's administrators perceive to be "threats." After all, you don't want to get in trouble for violating a whistle policy. As a rape victim, you already have enough to deal with (like victim-blaming, slut-shaming, and terrible hearing procedures).
5. Replenish Yourself After Being "Used Up"
Feeling "used up" after being raped? Apparently using up women is totally normal--normal enough to talk about during a male university president's convocation speech to female students.
So, after being used up, it's time to replenish! You have two ways to go here: there's wine, and then there's ice cream. Both work. We recommend having an ample supply of each on hand for post-rape emergencies.
For example, you might get an email from your school telling you how much they "care," but there's nothing they can do about your rape. Therefore, you will have to see your rapist on campus every day for the rest of your college career. A container of chocolate chip cookie dough or mint chocolate chip is usually the best way to replenish after seeing one's attacker, whereas Belgian chocolate tends to be a better choice in cases of retaliation.
Pro-tip: Avoid the Cabernet on the day of your rape-reporting, as it's best not to be tipsy when you report your rape. Your listeners already tend to not believe you, since, you know, hardly anyone believes rape victims. Plus, school administrators love to blame rapes on alcohol--instead of on rapists--so don't give them any extra chances to do so. Dulling the pain with a little vintage should be saved for after the meeting.
Of course, we sincerely hope that you never need to use our list of helpful tips. But if you do find yourself needing to report a sexual assault some day, perhaps the list will come in handy--at least as handy as all of the terrible how-to-not-get-raped advice that we've all been given lately.
Co-Authored by Annie E. Clark, Huffington Post blogger and co-founder of End Rape on Campus
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-656-HOPE for the National Sexual Assault Hotline.