Tips on How to Reduce Your Risk of Cruise Ship Sexual Assault
Cruise ship sexual assault and rape incidents are increasing in frequency with each passing year, affecting men, women and children of all ages, ethnicities and sexual preferences. But while there is no way to predict the chances a sexual predator will be traveling onboard the same ship as you and your loved ones, there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of becoming a target.
- Travel in Large Groups: It is much easier for a sexual predator to target a lone passenger than to try and come between a group of travelers. Offenders tend to prey passengers that are by themselves (unaccompanied) – especially children – and will make attempts to gain their trust before they make their move. Large groups are a deterrent to predators who will try to isolate their targets and lure them away from public areas. My assailant targeted me the moment he found me alone and took me to an isolated part of the ship where he knew no one would look for us. Although it may not always be possible to have a big group of friends and family at your side at all times during a cruise vacation, do your best to stay with a group as much as possible, especially at night. Just having one extra person at your side can drastically reduces your chance of becoming a cruise ship sexual assault victim. For groups traveling with children, it's important to never let them out of your site. I was only 12 when I was raped on a cruise ship and while some people may not think that kids are targets of sexual crimes, some predators actually specifically choose children for their attacks because it can be easy to gain their trust and easier to assault them because of their small size - or perhaps even because children are their preference. There are far too many assailants on cruise ships, so while your kids may think it's unfair that you are monitoring them 24/7, know that you are doing the right thing by protecting them.
- Be Friendly but Cautious: Cruise vacations are filled with tons of fun activities, many of which bring strangers together and lead to lasting friendships. It can be easy to get lost in the laid-back atmosphere created on a cruise ship, and many passengers let their guards down, socializing with other guests and crew members without thinking any harm may come of it. Truth is, sexual predators are among the most charismatic and friendly people you may ever come across, and they use this to their advantage. Part of the fun of going on a cruise vacation is making new friends, but it's important to be cautious of whom you confide in. Never allow yourself to be alone with strangers, especially crew members. If you are going to interact with your new friends, stay safe and keep encounters in public areas where you will be visible to others at all times and always bring a member of your own group for added protection.
- Avoid Isolated Areas: One of the most important ways you can reduce your risk of becoming a victim of sexual assault or rape on the high seas is to avoid isolated areas where it can be easy for offenders to violate your rights. My offender took me to an area on the ship that was so isolated, it was off-limits to passengers. There are many hidden corridors and areas on a ship that may not be under surveillance, which a predator may try to lure you into, just like my assailant did. Always stay within reach of other passengers and avoid dark, isolated areas where it's easier for offenders to get away with their crimes. Above all, never return to a stranger's cabin, even if you are in a group. You never know what kind of danger is waiting for you behind closed doors, so keep all interaction with new friends to areas where there are a lot of other passengers.
- Don't Assume You are Safe: Just because you are on a cruise ship doesn't mean you are automatically safe from harm. Hundreds of accidents and crimes occur on the high seas each year onboard even the newest and most state-of-the-art liners. Cruise ships may come equipped with high-tech surveillance cameras, but that doesn't mean they are always monitored. And unfortunately, even when incidents are caught on tape, prior cruise ship sexual assault incidents have brought to light the unfortunate reality that two often cruise lines fail to preserve their surveillance tapes, and to properly investigate or report crimes. Even worse, many of the sexual predators onboard cruise ships are the crew members themselves, and sometimes the cruise line to protect itself rather than detain them on the ship after a report is made allows them to get off at the next port and disappear. That is what happened to me. My attacker was a crew member and I trusted him simply because of that fact. Never let your guard down during a cruise vacation, no matter how safe you think you might be. If you suspect any passenger or crew member of being a sexual offender, always feel confident knowing you have the right to report suspicious behavior to a cruise line official and your travel companions. In doing so, you may not only protect yourself from harm, but you may also be protecting other potential victims as well.
- Maintain an Open Line of Communication: The best way to protect yourself from sexual attacks onboard a cruise ship is to prevent them altogether. One of the easiest ways to do so is to keep in constant communication with your travel mates or loved ones back home. Always inform your group when you plan to explore the ship so they know where you are going and when to expect you back. Establish meeting points and times throughout the ship where you can regroup in case you are separated or simply to stay in touch. Though cell phones may not usually carry a signal while out on the open seas, Walkie Talkies do. Walkie Talkies only require batteries to operate and can keep the lines of communication open within your group so if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation or if you are attacked, your loved ones can get help right away and perhaps even stop a sexual attack from occurring or from escalating. You can also keep in touch with loved ones back home through email to let them know you are safe. Most every cruise ship provides guests with access to computers and the internet for a small fee. Use this to your advantage and take just 5 minutes a day to email friends and family back home so they can also take action in the event you are victimized.
These are just a few steps you and your loved ones can take to decrease the chance you will be targeted by a sexual predator on a cruise ship or any where else. If you or one of your group members does become a victim of a sexual offender, remember to report the incident to the cruise officials on board and that you have a right to seek the legal help with a cruise rape lawyer.