Staying Safe at College (Tips for Freshman Women)

Sadly, sexual assault on campuses happen every day. With college just a few months away, I wanted to send some reminders to the young women out there about staying safe at school. Having worked on campuses for 17 years, I know the reality of what can happen, so let me give you a few practical pieces of advice.

My best piece of advice is to find a great group of friends that you can trust. Friends, who will have your back, be there for you and always protect you. Build a community, a “sisterhood” and look out for each other every day. Find this sisterhood on your dorm floor, in your sorority, through your sports team or through your campus job. I don’t care where you find it, just do it!  This is the best safety precaution you will have during your 4 years of college.

Also, here is a list of general precautions. These are recommended by schools, police and actual sexual assault victims. We all want you to enjoy college. We just want you to be safe too.

Post this list in your dorm room as a good daily reminder. 

Don’t walk across campus alone in the dark. Take the path that is well lit. Forget about shortcuts in the dark.

Know where the emergency help boxes are on campus.

Don’t go to parties alone.

Don’t leave your friend (drunk or not) alone at a party, unless she is with good friends.

Keep the number of your local cab service programed in your phone or download Uber.

Don’t leave your drinks unattended at a bar or at a party.

Bad decisions are made late at night. I don’t care how cool or interesting some new guy is… do not go anywhere alone with him @ 2am.

If you have a male study partner, meet him at the library or at a cafe.

Always let at least one friend know where you are. Text with updates often, especially if you feel nervous.

Keep pepper spray in your purse and/or room. (It’s legal in all 50 states.)

Know where campus police is located and have their number programed into your phone.

Dont wait for a bus or train at a badly lit spot and make sure you know when the last one runs each night.

Find some great male allies on campus.

Download the application kitestring to your phone.

Lastly, trust your gut. If something feels off, it probably is.

 

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Megan: Stuck in Neutral. (A girl’s struggle w/ depression and anorexia)

An excerpt from my book, Girl Talk: Boys, Bullies and Body Image

I see self-esteem as how I perceive myself in relation to others and if I see myself as pretty or fat or smart. It has to do with whether I’m confident or not.

For me, my biggest issue is weight. I was obese, clinically. I also struggled with depression and went to a therapist who gave me medication. It didn’t help that I was teased throughout school. Like in sixth grade this guy I thought was my friend asked me out, but then on the bus he told everybody it was a big joke. He told them that he thought it was funny I said yes. Can you imagine how much that crushed me? You don’t just get over something like that.

I lost like 40 pounds the summer between eighth and ninth grade. I started swimming and ate healthier, but then I began to exhibit all the textbook symptoms of anorexia. I mostly ate trail mix. I would eat those all-natural bars – Think Thin bars – but I would eat them as a whole meal. For dinner I would have an apple with peanut butter. I would count calories and keep a food journal. At the end of the day I’d look through it and be like, “Oh, I had too many of this.”

I don’t do that anymore. I know I can’t go back there, but I think about it every time I eat. Can you imagine struggling every single time you’re hungry? Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks – wanting food so badly, but not wanting it at the same time? Now I have healthy eating patterns, but people have to talk to me or distract me so I don’t know how much I’m taking in. The hard part is as I gain the weight back, I see myself as I was before. Even though I’m a healthy weight now, when I look in the mirror I feel like I’m obese compared to where I was when I was anorexic.

I think about body image a lot subconsciously, and I shouldn’t. Hopefully when I get older I won’t be surrounded by people who talk about stuff like that all the time. I feel like if they wouldn’t talk about it then I wouldn’t fixate on it so much.

When I think of what makes me happy, eating is the first thing that comes to mind. Isn’t that sad? In fact, during this whole conversation, the mention of food is the only thing that will make me smile.

Literally.

Unfortunately, I’m the person who loves food but it doesn’t love me. Then I have no choice but to hate it back. Food helped me through some difficult times though. When I was younger, I would “eat my feelings” if I was sad. Now instead of eating a lot I just have like a spoonful and dip it in ice cream, just to taste it. But there’s still this fat child within me that has that feeling, that longing. It’s the fat child that just ate and ate whenever her parents fought.

My mom and I are close but I don’t have a relationship with my dad at all. He leaves early for work, gets home late and eats dinner in a separate room. We just never really had a good relationship.

I guess he never really cared.

I don’t know.

I just accept it now.

For more from this article click here.

The story of Cindy: As Perfect as Possible.

Excerpt from Girl Talk: Boys, Bullies and Body Image 

The story of Cindy: As Perfect as Possible.

Like a year ago – I never really had anyone to talk to so I would bottle things up. That’s really unhealthy and I would explode and have really bad mood swings and really bad, um, depression. I’ve been struggling with depression for like eeeeever. Lately I had my worst depression – my WORST. I call it the “depression abyss.” I realized I really needed help from my parents. I think they knew I was sad sometimes, but not THAT depressed. I mean, I come off as really bubbly and positive when I’m just hanging out or having a conversation.

When I told my mom and dad, I was shaking. I didn’t know what their reaction would be. I was always scared to tell them because I thought they would send me to a mental hospital and get all crazy. But they didn’t. They were really supportive and so now I go to see a therapist every week (or more!). Biiiiig, big step.
What knocked me down enough to seek help? Um, well, I was actually dealing with an eating disorder and a drug issue. Now I’m being treated for both of them. Yeah, that was a HUGE step too! Oh my God, that was craaazy!

Even though I get depressed, I am like the fun party girl. I’m the one that’s like, “Heeeey everybody! Let’s go party today. I know this place.” Like I’m the girl pulling everyone else in. I’m not the one feeling peer pressure; I’m the one passing it around.

All that fun and partying got serious on New Year’s Eve though. I was dealing with bad family issues on top of everything else. I was in the middle mood-wise and then I just dropped. I overdosed. I don’t remember much. I was seizing and my eyes were rolling back. My friends were like, “OK, we’ll give you ‘til 5:30 am and if you don’t snap out of this then we’re going to the hospital,” and by 5:30 I was sleeping. Crazy, right?!

My drug of choice? Um…probably ecstasy. But I used to do like five different drugs at the same time. And I’m tiny. That’s another thing – I don’t like it when people assume the anorexia is because of my body. I’ve always been really skinny. I know I’m really skinny! The anorexia was definitely a control thing. It was like counting calories because I can control counting. It’s mathematical. Anorexia is so tangible. It’s right there………..

For more click here.