Sexual Assault Awareness Month

*Disclosure:  This is a compensated post.  I am a survivor of domestic violence, this story touches me and I hope will touch all of you.  

April is Sexual Assault month.  What better time to talk about it, than now.  With so many college kids on spring break, it's so important to get your defense up and be ready!  These days it can be scary, there is no typical "bad guy" face.  Do you really know the guy you are going on spring break with?  Do you know your neighbor, or babysitter or even your co-worker as good as you think you do?  Probably not.  Now, while I was not the victim of sexual assault, I was the victim of domestic violence.  I jumped right into my relationship with my ex-husband not knowing anything about his background and just trusting him, living life, having fun and assuming everything would be just fine.   Boy was I wrong!  Little did I know, he was a drug addict and had been in and out of prison his whole life.   If I just would have been smart and had a back ground check ran on him, those ten years of my life would have turned out so different - who knows where I would be!  One thing I do want to encourage is writing down any information you know about this person you are going on vacation with or even just going out on a date with.  If something does happen, you will have something, and a little something can go a long way!

Doing a background check on someone can also be an excellent way to protect yourself.  Erik Knight, creator of saw the importance of access to information and created the website to present an easy to use and completely free platform.  Below are the top six people you should be running those background checks on -

1) Yourself: Approximately 15 million US residents have their identities used fraudulently each year with loss
  totaling upwards of $50 billion. The numbers just go up during the holidays. In addition, have you ever considered that the reason you didn't get that job or apartment is because someone background checked you? It is important to know what information about you exists on the web and to ensure it is accurate. Maybe you have the same name as someone with a sketchy past or maybe someone has stolen your identity without you realizing it. Search yourself often to know what information is assessable about you.

2) Your Date: The potential dangers of dating in today's world are clique for a reason. When you meet someone off an online dating site, knowledge is power. When you have someone's phone number,   username, and first name you can often find additional information including someones last name. Always meet up in a public place - but beyond that, take a little time to protect yourself. This is not just about safety, make sure that you know the background of someone before you enter a committed relationship, move in with someone, or get married.

3) Your Co-Workers/Clients: Shoplifting and fraud cost American retailers 8.9 billion last holiday season. The average small business owner loses $1,000's of dollars in outstanding invoices. Most people spend more time everyday with your co-workers than your family. Know who you can trust and who has dirty laundry. Any time money is involved in a relationship, know who are you getting involved with.

4) Medical Professionals: There are very few professions where honesty and reputation matters more than in the medical field - from a nurse, a plastic surgeon, or a general care doctor. Background checks for medical professionals can be very revealing, showing any malpractice suits as well as revealing any red flags. In today's day and age, medical care is expensive and the market is very saturated, everyone is trying to stand out. There is no reason to trust any medical professional or give them the benefit of the doubt - do your research and find what they don't want you to see.

5) A New Roommate: A roommate or a tenant can present problems - they might pay late, damage your property, or bring unwanted illegal activity into your home or onto your property. Background checking any potential roommate will ensure your new roommate has a clean financial and criminal history, it is an excellent way to ensure the overall integrity and honesty of the person sharing your home.

6) The Babysitter: Entrusting someone with your children and your home means putting major trust into another person. Do you research and ensure that your applicants 'all smiles' attitude is not just a facade.