Recently, I took a consent and sexual assault prevention training for school. I’ve been avoiding it for a long time because I found it triggering and I didn’t want to feel upset that these things happen. While the training saddened me at certain points, mainly the individuals’ testimonies of being raped, I found it informative.
While teaching consent is important, I also say it’s important to teach situational awareness. Situational awareness is simply knowing what’s going on around you. At first, I was reluctant to learn about situational awareness because I felt it was victim blaming. If the individual didn’t do this, if the individual didn’t wear that, or if the victim didn’t go there, he or she wouldn’t have been sexual assaulted. Talking to Mr. Squigglekins and my other friend, The Guard, I realized that situational awareness isn’t necessarily about victim blaming but how to assess an environment, the potential dangers it has and to prevent it.
Here are suggestions that someone can use to increase their situational awareness.
- Check your surroundings for any threats– Look around you and identify the type of setting. At a party, check to see how many people are drinking or if anyone is sabotaging anyone’s drinks. In a city, check both ways before crossing the street or double check to see your car doors are locked.
- Be aware of what should be normal in a situation– Determine what is considered “normal” in your view. For me, a stranger being unusually close and touchy feeling at a party is not normal unless they want something. Deciding on a normal “baseline” is created from life experiences.
- Always have a Plan B and contingencies– Imagine dangerous situations that could occur and plan solutions to avoid them. A friend is super drunk at a party, rather than leaving him at the party, take him home or if you’re not able to ask a trusted friend to help.
- Don’t give into complacency- Don’t every truly be comfortable in your environment that you’re not actively identifying for possible threats. To fight against it, remind yourself that dangerous situations can happen even in environments that are considered “safe.”
- Trust your gut feelings– This is a hard one for me because sometimes one’s “gut” can be proven unnecessary, but it is better to be safe than sorry. For instance, you drive to a party but leave early because the longer you stay, the likelier the chance you’ll drink. You could have stayed at a party and not drank at all, but your intuition told you to leave and that’s fine.
I understand there are more ways to increase situational awareness, but I chose only five suggestions to avoid information overload. If you have more ways, just add it to the comments.