Nayor said it’s important for young people to watch out for each other in these circumstances. Have a buddy with you, he said, and let someone know when you are leaving and when you expect to arrive. That way, if you don’t show up, they’ll know something is wrong. Nayor said he believes the current generation of young people are smart and have grown up hearing about “stranger danger.” Now, he said, they are putting that knowledge into practice and making good decisions that could very well save their lives.
But what if you’ve done everything right, made all the “right” decisions and something still happens. How can women defend themselves from a would-be attacker?
Many people suggest carrying pepper spray, Nayor said, but he is personally not a big advocate of this because it can be used against the victim.
“If you’re going to use it, you should know how to use it correctly and it has to be justified. If it makes you feel better, that’s great,” Nayor said, “but there’s a responsibility that comes with it.”
Rivera said the Violence Intervention Program teaches individuals to travel as a group and also teaches bystander training so other people can know how to intervene if they see an assault in progress.
According to Rivera, survivors of sexual assault are three times more likely to suffer from depression, six times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, 26 times more likely to abuse drugs and four times more likely to contemplate suicide. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and dissociation are also common effects.
More than anything, Rivera said, we mustn’t place blame on anyone who has been a victim of assault.
“You shouldn’t have been walking alone” is not an acceptable statement of response to a victim, he said.
According to Rivera, showing perpetrators that we, as a community, will not accept abuse while showing victims that we support them by participating in an event, such as Take Back The Night, is a much more compassionate and useful response.
Said Rivera: “We’re there to empower them.”