Welcome Back! Tip of the Week: Personal Safety

Shared from NOVA Police Newsletter: Personal Safety Tips

The following are tips that can help you avoid becoming a victim of a crime when you are out and about, or working at your job. By taking a few simple precautions, you can reduce the risk to yourself, and also discourage those who commit crimes. Burglars, robbers, and thieves seek primarily to remove cash or property. Many such intruders are capable of harming people with little provocation, so whether at work, at home, or out on the street, these precautions should be taken.
Stay Safe with LiveSafe
 Download LiveSafe, NOVA’s free mobile safety app, through the iTunes or Google Play store. LiveSafe allows you to text issues of concern or request emergency calls for service directly to NOVA’s police, and do so anonymously if you wish. You will also have critical safety information at your fingertips. See www.LiveSafeMobile.com .


At Home:
 Become familiar with your neighborhood.
 Always leave your headlights on when arriving home after dark until you have unlocked the garage door, or unlocked the front door.
 When arriving home by private auto or taxi, ask the driver to wait unto you are safely inside.
 Have the door key in your hand so you can open the door immediately when you return home.
 If you are a woman, list only your first initial and last name on the mailbox, or in the telephone directory.
 When moving into a new apartment or residence, ALWAYS have the locks re-keyed, or changed.
 Do not hide a spare key. Burglars know where to look. Leave it with a neighbor.
 Keep doors locked at all times.
 Never give out personal information over the telephone.
 Know who is at your door before opening it. Wide angle door viewers (180 degrees or 190 degrees) enable you to identify the visitor. You can see the person, that person can’t see you.
 Never rely on chain locks. They are a privacy lock, but not a security lock.
 Never dress in front of windows, always close your drapes.
 Never let anyone into your home without proper identification. Don’t be afraid to ask for identification.
 Never let strangers into your home to use the telephone. Make the call for them while they wait outside.
 Always leave outside lights on after dark, or use motion lights.
 If you receive a wrong number phone call, don’t give out your name or phone number.
 If you receive an obscene phone call, hang up and call police.
 In an apartment building, NEVER be alone in the laundry room.
 If you suspect anyone is in your house, do not go in. Go to a neighbor and call the police.
 Keep shrubs/bushes trimmed. Avoid allowing anything to obscure visibility of windows from the street.
 If you see or hear anything suspicious, call the police.
 Have a list of emergency telephone numbers near each telephone.

At Places of Business:
 Opening the business: Have two employees together meet to unlock the business. One should stay outside, while the other checks the interior. After clearing, both may enter.
 Closing the Business: Employees should accompany each other to their vehicles– especially at night. If this is not possible, perhaps a security guard for the shopping center can escort the last employee to his/her car.
 Bank Deposits: Making bank deposits alone can be dangerous. Employees making deposits should always go in pairs. If you are alone, vary deposit times and carry the deposit inside a purse or a plain bag. Do not use a bank bag or a bag with a name on it. Never make deposits after closing, as this is an obvious for hold-ups.
 Taking out the trash: Doing this in pairs is much safer, both for the employees and the business.
 Panic buttons: Install panic buttons at the front counter. Make sure there are phones near both front and rear entrances.
 Controlling Access: This enhances personal security. Keep secondary exits locked. Limit access to secondary exits by non-employees by having doors alarmed and labeled “EMERGENCY EXIT ONLY” or limit access to the area around the door.
 Keep Restrooms Locked: Be in control of access to restrooms, storage areas, etc. This prevents assailants from hiding in waiting and “breakouts.”
 ID Badges for Access Control: T hey are only as good as the enforcement of the policy.
 Visibility: This increases safety. Keep parking and walking areas well lit, and keep the area around the building clear of debris. Stacks of boxes and pallets can be hiding places for assailants. Install mirrors or Closed Circuit TV in rooms with blind corners and in enclosed parking facilities.

Help Keep Employees Safe:
 Keep buildings locked whenever public access is not necessary.
 Watch for suspicious persons (persons not having legitimate business.)
 If you think you are being followed, find other people. Use the “buddy” system.
 Take access control policies seriously.
 If a confrontation occurs:
o Don’t be a hero. Do nothing to risk your personal safety.
o Consider all guns, or threat of guns, as loaded weapons.
o Activate alarms only if you can do so without detection.
o Attempt to alert co-workers only if you can do so safely.
o Follow directions exactly, without volunteering.
o Without seeming obvious, study attacker’s distinguishing features.

While You Are Out:
 Always have a plan.
 Do not walk (or drive) with headphones or while texting.
 Only carry as much money as you need for the day.
 If you must use an ATM, only use it during the day, do not stand at the ATM and count your money, and only use ATMs located in public/well lit areas.
 Try NOT to go out alone at night. Avoid unfamiliar areas, if possible. Walk in a group if possible.
o Request an escort from campus police.
o Tell friends and family about your travel plans, places to be visited, and expected arrival times.
 Don’t take shortcuts: don’t walk in or near alleys, and don’t walk on dark or deserted streets.
 Use caution in parking lots, and don’t walk in poorly lighted areas, or dark doorways, or near shrubbery.
 Don’t accept rides from strangers, and don’t respond to comments from strangers on the street.
 Don’t get into an empty elevator with a stranger. If you do ride with another person, stand near the control panel and if attacked, press as many of the control buttons as possible.
 Don’t hitchhike. If someone suspicious is following you, cross the street and walk into an open business.
 Watch your surroundings and be alert for suspicious persons, especially around banks, stores, street, your car, or home.
 Do not avert your eyes. Be confident. Predators choose the weak.
 If you are alone at work after business hours, keep the door locked.
 If you work late, ask the security guard or a co-worker to walk you to your car.
 Do not go into stairwells alone.
 When meeting a new friend, exchange phone numbers only, not addresses. On a first date, let family and friends know where you are going. Consider a daytime meeting rather than a night meeting, for a first date, and meet in a public place.
 It is never a good idea to go to a nightclub alone, and if you do, provide your own transportation.
 Keep your space – Intimate space: 0 – 1.5 feet, Personal space: 1.5 – 4 feet; Social space: 4 – 12 feet; Public space: 12 feet or more.
 Don’t allow alcohol or drugs to impair your judgment. If you haven’t already set a few social standards, do so and stick to them. Don’t allow an overly aggressive pursuer to change your mind.

In Your Automobile:
 Never pickup hitchhikers.
 Keep your vehicle locked at all times.
 Don’t park in the dark.
 Never leave your keys, registration, important documents, money or credit cards in the car.
o Lock these items in your trunk, out of sight, if you cannot carry them with you.
 Never allow another vehicle to follow you home.
 Have your keys in hand so you can open the car door without delay.
 Always keep your car in gear when stopped at a traffic signal or stop sign, so if threatened in any way, you can quickly drive away.
 Have an emergency kit in your car.
 If your car breaks down, do not accept a ride from a Samaritan who stops to help. Have him call for help.
 Always check the back seat of your car before getting in.
 If you stop to aid others, do not get out of the car. Ask what the problem is, and go to the nearest phone and call the police.
 Always lock your doors while driving.
 Always prearrange meeting with anyone so you do not have to wait alone.
 If you are being stopped by police, put on your flashing lights and pull into a well-lit and populated area. The police will understand you concern for safety.

Riding the Bus or Trolley:
 During off hours, ride as near the operator as possible.
 If you are going to be out late, make sure you have cab fare.
 If someone on the bus bothers you, change seats and tell the operator.
 Have your fare or pass ready in hand when boarding the bus.
 At night avoid dark and isolated intersections or stops.
 Look around when getting off the bus or trolley, and be aware of people around you.
If You Are Attacked
 Use common sense. Try to negotiate, stall for time, and talk your way out of it.
 Be verbally assertive.
 Distract or divert the assailant, then flee. Run toward an open business or a group of people. Hide if you get the opportunity.
 Scream loudly and keep it up to attract attention and help from nearby people.
 If the attacker threatens you with a deadly weapon, and you come out of it alive, you took the proper course of action. During an armed attack, you must decide the proper course of action. There is no hard and fast rule as to self defense. You must consider your physical capabilities, your location, and your perceived chances of success. If you cannot escape, bide your time and look for another opportunity, a half-hearted attempt could be worse than no attempt at all.
 Notify The Police immediately, when you get the opportunity, and if there are witnesses, ask them to stay until police arrive.
 Provide as much detail of suspicious persons as possible.
 It is not advisable to carry guns, clubs, knives, or chemical sprays. It is illegal to carry some of these weapons, and they could be used against you.
 Finally, if a crime occurs, report it, remembering no fact is too trivial. Your report will help the police to assign officers in the places where crimes occur or where they are most likely to occur. If you don’t report a crime, you allow criminals to keep operating without interference.

Purse Protection:
 If at all possible, don’t carry a purse.
 Never leave purses, backpacks or other belongings unattended.
 When possible, carry your wallet, keys, and other valuables on your person, or in an inside pocket, or other suitable place, rather than your purse. Your purse should be used to carry brushes, combs, make-up, etc.
 Credit cards and checks should be carried instead of cash. Maintain a record of the account numbers at home. Practice carrying only the cards you will be using.
 Carry a shoulder bag securely between your arm and body away from traffic.
 If you are wearing a coat, carry a purse worn over the shoulder, but under the coat.
 Watch your surroundings. Be alert for suspicious persons especially around banks, stores, streets, and your home.
 At night, stay in well-lighted areas and avoid walking close to shrubbery, dark doorways, or other places of concealment.
 Practice the “buddy system”, and shop with a friend when possible. When walking in twos, place your purse between you and your friend.
 Carry a clutch bag un-snapped and upside down between your arm and body with any valuables in the zippered compartment. If someone attempts to steal your purse, loosen your grip, thus allowing the contents to fall to the ground.
 Consider “fanny packs” whenever possible.
 If you are attacked, don’t struggle. Your purse can easily be replaced; you can’t be. If there is a witness, ask that person to stay until police arrive.
 Notify police immediately after an attack -911.
Don’t . . .
 Don’t carry large amounts of money. The first rule is to limit your losses.
 Don’t carry more than you can easily afford to lose. Many purse snatches are committed solely to finance narcotic addictions.
 Don’t carry unnecessary valuables in your purse. Avoid being ostentatious.
 Don’t let your purse hang loosely in your hand.
 Don’t carry a lethal weapon; it could be used against you.
 Don’t fight. Surrender your purse.
 Don’t announce your vacation plans on social media.

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Tip of the Week: Consent Matters









Consent Matters!

Consent is a clear and unambiguous agreement, expressed in mutually understandable words or actions, to engage in a particular activity. In order for sexual activity to be consensual, ALL individuals involved must want and agree to everything that takes place. Silence or no response does NOT equal YES. Consent is unimpaired – only someone who is mentally present and uninfluenced by external factors such as substances can give consent. A person may change his/her mind even after saying “yes” initially. Sexual activity after that point is a form of sexual assault. Just because you have engaged in sexual acts with the individual once before, it does not mean the answer is always an implied yes.

Respect your partner’s answer: NO MEANS NO

To learn more please visit:



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Tip of the Week: Warning Signs of Dating/Partner Violence

Dating/partner violence is a pattern of behaviors between individuals who are or have been involved in an intimate relationship in which an individual inflicts emotional, financial, psychological, sexual and/or physical harm to his/her partner to assert power and control. Dating/partner violence is abuse within an intimate relationship regardless of marital status and does not depend on whether the couple lives together. It happens in heterosexual and same-sex relationships. Some behaviors within dating/partner violence are considered criminal.

If you or someone you know sees the warning signs in their relationship then remember you are not alone and that you have the option to seek help. You can always reach out to NOVACares by filling out the NOVACares report or by contacting NOVA Sexual Assault Services (SAS) directly at nova.sas@nvcc.edu or 703-338-0834.


Below are a list of warning signs
 Explosive temper
 Using physical violence such as choking, pushing or hitting
 Extreme jealousy or insecurity
 Checking emails, cellphones and social media without permission
 Isolation from family and friends
 Controlling partner’s movements or decisions and/or finances
 Coercing or forcing partner to engage in unwanted or nonconsensual sexual acts
 Constantly insulting or putting down partner and/or humiliating partner in public or in front of loved ones
 Making false accusations
 Possessiveness


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Financial Resources Offered by the WSSN Program

Gaining a financial foothold at NOVA can maximize your educational and career goals. Most students today don’t have the simple luxury of just attending classes and then going home to study. Many of you have jobs, families, money worries, and car problems. We want you to know there are resources and steps you can take to gain traction, earn your degree, and achieve financial stability. NOVA’s Working Students Success Network connects your educational goals to your career goals by finding income and work supports to tide you over when life gets complicated. We also link you to financial and asset building services for the long haul. Access resources like free food on campus and fresh food to take home, emergency aid for unexpected bills, financial coaching with a certified professional, free tax preparation and filing services, resources for housing, transportation, or child care, and much more.


Rachelle Thompson, MSW

Program Coordinator, Working Students Success Network

Institutional Effectiveness & Student Success Initiatives

Northern Virginia Community College

phone: 703-503-6240

email: rpthompson@nvcc.edu


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Tip of the Week

Academic Support Services

If you are a new student or have questions, a counselor will help guide you through the sometimes confusing administrative procedures and requirements. All NOVA campuses have counselors available by appointment or walk-in.

Academic advising helps you to plan a program that will meet your educational objectives. If you cannot come to campus to meet with your advisor, Online Virtual Advising is available to you.


For more information:



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Tip of the Week: Grief Support Resources (For July 4th week!)

Individual and group therapy can enormously help individuals deal with grief. No one has a magic formula for “fixing” grief, but it is often helpful to be with others who deeply understand how you are feeling. Many people feel shy about joining a Grief Group, but support groups are a time-tested method of helping people struggling with all sorts of difficulties. A Grief group can provide members with validation and understanding of the intensity of their experience. It can combat isolation by providing members with a compassionate community that will support them in their struggle, while allowing members the opportunity to share their strengths and coping strategies. This sharing provides affirmation and hope that one can survive loss.
Benefits of a Grief Group
• Realizing you’re not alone
• Making connections
• Expressing your feelings
• Learning helpful information
• Gaining hope and strength
• Reducing distress
To learn more please visit:


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Tip of the Week: Managing Stress

Manage Your Stress the Right Way!
All of us can get stressed from time to time but it’s important to learn healthy coping strategies. Stress can affect us in many different ways. By learning coping strategies, you can learn how to reduce stress and gain your self-confidence back!
Below are common signs of stress:
• Trouble sleeping
• Headaches
• Stomach ache
• Depression
• Impatience
• Easily irritated
• Inability to focus
• High blood pressure
• Chest pain
• Poor concentration
• Anxiety
• Fatigue
If you are experiencing any of those signs, then please read the strategies below that you can use every day to deal with your stress:
• Breathe deeply
• Eat well-balanced meals
• Have a positive attitude
• Exercise–even a little bit
• Manage your time
• Listen to music
• Laugh
• Hot baths
• Mediation
• Yoga
• Massage
• Get enough sleep
• Talk to someone
To learn more please visit:







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Tip of the Week: Suicide Prevention

Support Suicide Prevention!
People who have suicidal thoughts rarely ask for help but that doesn’t mean these individuals don’t want help. Suicide has become a desperate way out for some individuals who find it difficult to deal with pain. Suicide Prevention starts by knowing the warning signs.

Warning Signs of Suicide:
• Clinical Depression
• Talking/writing about committing suicide
• Increased substance abuse
• Withdrawal from friends and family
• Calling or visiting people to say goodbye
• Writing a will
• Experiencing dramatic mood changes
• Losing interest in activities
• Making comments such as “I want out” or “It would be better if I wasn’t here”
• Feeling hopeless
Visit the website: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Why Call Crisis Link Hotline?
• talk with someone who cares about you
• talk with an empathic person if you feel you might be in danger of hurting yourself
• find referrals to mental health and other community services
• get ideas and tips about how to help someone you’re concerned about
To learn more please visit:

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Tip of the Week: Human Trafficking Awareness

Human Trafficking Still Exists Today!

Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery involving
the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain.

Every year, millions of men, women and children are trafficked in countries around the world, including the United States. It is estimated that human trafficking generates billions of dollars of profit per year, second only to drug trafficking as the most profitable form of transnational crime.

Human trafficking is a hidden crime as victims rarely come forward to seek help because of language barriers, fear of the traffickers and/or fear of law enforcement.
Traffickers use force, fraud or coercion to lure their victims and force them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation. They look for people who are susceptible for a variety of reasons, including psychological or emotional vulnerability, economic hardship, and lack of a social safety net, natural disasters or political instability. The trauma caused by the traffickers can be so great that many may not identify themselves as victims or ask for help, even in highly public settings.
To learn more please visit:






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Tip of the Week: LGBTQ Awareness

LGBTQ Awareness: Happy Pride Month!
Since 2000 June has been declared as Pride Month. NOVACares completely supports it!
NOVA is committed to providing a safe, inclusive and diverse environment for our students to achieve their academic goals. We hope that our students and staff take advantage of LGBTQ support and resources both on and off campus. There are some clubs at various NOVA Campuses; please ask your campus Student Life office for information.

To learn more please visit:


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