College Students Beware of The Red Zone

College Students Beware of The Red Zone

It's called the red zone, a time when college starts until the days before the Thanksgiving holiday break.

Most incoming freshman women have no idea that this concentrated period of time, the first three months of their freshman experience, will also be the time when they are most vulnerable as potential victims of sexual assault.

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Across America, incoming freshman are attending seminars like one at West Islip High School in New York.

Former police officer and self defense expert Steve Kardian says many girls entering college are utterly naive about what to expect on college campuses, and offers these tips.

Tip No. 1 - Don't be too trusting.

“You're a little bit too young, you're a little bit too trusting and you haven't dealt or developed the tactics to deal with the predator, Kardian explained to the young women.

Tip No. 2 - Don't drink to excess

Kardian says alcohol is a factor in 90% of college rapes.

And it was almost certainly a factor in the disappearance of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham.  Police say the 18-year-old was intoxicated when she left a party late Friday night, wearing a crop top and black pants.  Surveillance video shows her wandering alone in Charlottesville, outside a pub, running past a gas station for no apparent reason. She was clearly a prime target for a predator.

Which brings us to tip No. 3 - Use the buddy system. Never leave a friend behind.

Video of Graham has surfaced and in it, she is all alone. In one clip, a man, wearing shorts, stood in a doorway. Then, she passed, and he followed her.

The outdoor mall in Charlottesville, Virginia, where that surveillance video was taken showed Graham walking past the stores.  During the day, it is bustling but at 1a.m. Saturday morning, the mall was deserted. Cops say Graham was intoxicated and disoriented. Shortly after she was seen at the mall, she sent a final text to her friends telling them she was lost.  She hasn't been heard from since.

The man seen in the video following Graham has came forward and told police that she appeared "distressed" and "visibly intoxicated.” He said he followed her because "he wanted to make sure she was okay."  He says he saw another man putting his arm around Graham.

Now tip No. 4 - Get involved if you see someone is in a potentially dangerous situation  

Kardian said, “Merely stepping in and saying,l ‘Is everything ok?  Is there anything I can do to help?’ changes the dynamic of that encounter and often it will break it up.”

And finally, tip No. 5 – As a last resort, fight back.

Kardian showed the freshman girls some simple moves to get out of a dire situation, including being held down.

Kardian said, “Ladies, what if you are pinned down here?  She thinks that she can't move.  She can still scoot the hips out.  Foot into the hip, foot into the hip.  She switches her hands and kicks, she gets up and goes.” 

Click here to see video of this and other self defense tips.

An eye opening lesson for these young women who now find themselves in the red zone. Advice that would have served Hannah Graham well.