Ask Dr. Tech: Tech tips to address, avoid assault

Jon Dorbolo

The good news is that violent crime in the United States has declined steadily since the 1990s.

The bad news is that violent crime still harms millions of people every year and the college campus is no exception to that reality.

The good news is that Corvallis is consistently rated as the safest small city.

The bad news is that in 2012-13, 48 OSU students reported violent crimes committed against them and others have been reported this fall term.

I count violent crime to include aggravated assault, sexual assault, domestic violence and dating violence.

To grasp the meaning of these statistics recognize that every violent act harms an individual human being.

Statistics tell important stories but individuals suffer pain and harm, and the cost of violence is personal.

Think of a class that you have been in with 48 other learners – then imagine that every one of those people suffered violent assault in the last two years.

If you have not been subject to violent crime, it is important to know how you may protect yourself and those around you.

If you are among the people who have been assaulted, it is important that you know what resources are available for you because there are good people here who will help.

Links to the resources noted in this column among others are available on my blog:

I met with Judy Neighbours to learn about a new resource for OSU members – Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Alliance.

Neighbours is the Coordinator of SARPA, which was created this year and is available to counsel on a range of issues related to assault, violence, harassment, stalking and bullying.

Neighbours observed that in some parts of OSU culture sexual force is not discouraged, but talking about it is; she intends to change that and we should all help to achieve that aim.

SARPA was created partly in response to revelations this year about past sexual assault issue at OSU.

OSU President Ed Ray and Provost Sabah Randhawa spoke to the press and community about making change for the better.

That they put actions to their words and invested resources to support those who suffer sexual assault and any form of violence is an impressive act of resolve by our university leadership.

The problems of violence and sexual assault are complex and require an intelligence grounded in reality to increase your own safety.

Nationwide, 82 percent of sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone known to the victim. About 50 percent of sexual assaults involve alcohol.

Being drunk or high makes you vulnerable.

This is not to claim that alcohol causes sexual violence, but intoxication is clearly a contributing factor in both perpetrator and victim accounts.

To gain a professional perspective on the role of alcohol in assault I spoke with Sarah Cubba who tends bar at American Dream.

Cubba had a lot of important thoughts, bartenders are good at that, but the standout message she had was that awareness and moderation are crucial to staying safe.

Cubba advises setting limits when drinking, such as the amount to spend or number of drinks, and to talk to your server about those limits because their job is to help you enjoy yourself and part of having a good time is staying in control and safe.

Technology can be a friend to you when out on the town through mobile apps that help you set limits, enter your weight, count drinks, tally costs, estimate blood alcohol content and notify you when you exceed a limit.

Apps for phone and tablet include IntelliDrink (iOS $0.99), BAC Alcohol Calculator (iOS $0.99), R-U-Buzzed (iOS free), ALCulator (Android free), AlcoDroid Alcohol Tracker (Android $2.99), Alcohol Calculator (Android free), BAC Calculator (WIN free), Alc Calc pro (WIN $0.99) and Drinking Buddy (WIN $0.99).

When you are out and about, staying in contact with your social support system may help you stay safe and several apps can help.

Circle of Six (iOS, Android free) lets you set up a contact group and easily update them with a few taps.

Kitestring (web and SMS based free) lets you set up outings and alerts friends if you do not respond at a set time.

My personal favorite security communication device is the 5Star from GreatCall ($50 plus $15/month).

I prefer this small device because it is dedicated to a single purpose; press the one button and you are immediately connected to a trained operator that will help with many issues, even just someone to talk to while walking home.

The 5Star operator can locate your device by GPS and will call emergency responders if you cease responding.

I believe that using a phone in a personal emergency is complex and unreliable, while a dedicated device supports direct and immediate action.

I have a 5Star in my pocket right now and bought one for my daughter.

Immediate relevant communication will be normal in our future and devices such as 5Star foreshadow these emerging technologies.

5Star is not cheap, but perhaps someone who cares will help with the cost – send this article to them and highlight the following sentence: “Hi. I am Dr. Tech and I encourage you to invest in your loved one’s safety.”

There are similar products and I am promoting the functionality that they provide, not a particular product.

Some people rely on self-defense products such as pepper spray, stun guns and key chain gadgets.

Honestly, thinking that an untrained person can effectively fight off an aggravated attacker with any weapon is fantasy.

My view is that you feel a need for self-defense tools, you should review your activities to avoid trouble rather than fight it.

Possibly the most important technology advice for some people is to unplug so that you can give full attention to your environment.

The most important point that I can make about violence and assault is to appeal to men to take responsibility for the problem. Most men never perpetrate assault, but men commit the vast majority of violence.

Brothers, let’s step up to the issues of violence and sexual assault together to bring the truth to light and work together to solve it.

Everyone should all take informed action to avoid assault, but we should not avoid addressing the topic.

Practicing respect for others opens new values to subjective experience.

I invite all of your responses on these issue and will post relevant technologies that you inform me of on my blog.

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