|Safety in Numbers for WomenShortly after graduating from Sarah Lawrence College, I moved to New York City, where I went out exploring neighborhoods alone and primarily on foot. A lot of my friends from school had been from out of state, and so that first year I was pretty much on my own to experience the city. It was actually a lot of fun to walk around at my own pace, not having to worry about whether I was moving too fast or slow for someone else. I felt confident and comfortable, even though I was alone, and perhaps this showed on the outside as well. Then I made a few good girlfriends, and life became even better. We’d go out on Sunday afternoons, and Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights when we weren’t working our gallery jobs. The guys we met at bars, clubs, and restaurants were sometimes really nice, and would ask us out, but we always made it clear to them that the group would be staying together for the entire night.To tell you the truth, staying safe wasn’t really the number #1 thing on our minds, just that it wasn’t right to leave our group of friends if we’d all gone out together. We just figured that if some guy liked one of us enough, he’d try to get our phone number and call us for a proper date. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were staying safe in numbers.
Whenever drinking is involved, there is more of a danger for women: “The percentage of male sexual offenders under the influence of alcohol at the time of the assault is in the high 90s, and at least three quarters of women victims had been drinking,” says Cornell University professor Andrea Parrot, PhD, coauthor of Forsaken Females: The Global Brutalization of Women. This is such a startling statement, but one that we can easily remedy by not only cutting down on our intake while in the company of men, but also sticking with our girlfriends. Drinking tends to make everybody a lot more uninhibited than they would be normally, and this is fine when we’re with friends, but can be a serious liability when you’re among guys. That’s why it’s always best to not only have a designated driver for nights of partying, but also never, EVER let a girlfriend separate from the group and go off with some hot guy she just met. She might not like it when you have to play Mommy, and remind her that she promised to go home with the group, but I have just two sad words for you to remember: Natalee Holloway. She was a beautiful, young high school student who got separated from her school group in Aruba after a wild few days of partying, and was never seen or heard from again. One way that you can curtail something like this happening, is to cut in when you see a girlfriend drinking too much. Pulling her away from the guy and into the ladies room for a few minutes usually works just fine.
Another crucial reason to stick with your girlfriends when you go out is so you can monitor each other’s intake. This means you never have to leave your drink unattended when you’re with a guy you don’t know. It’s a scary fact that 5% of sexual assault victims have been given a “roofie” or date rape drug, like rohypnol. These drugs cause dizziness and even amnesia-like symptoms, and can easily be poured in powder-form into your drink. Choices that you ordinarily wouldn’t make while you were sober, like going to another bar with that pushy guy, or even accompanying him and his friends back to his apartment, can happen in the blink of an eye when you’re under the influence. Don’t compound the danger by trusting your drink with someone (or a group of male someones) who could mean you great harm.
Predators are much less likely to see you as a target when you’re with a group. But what do you do if you’re drinking on a date with a guy, have already gotten a somewhat shady/creepy vibe from him, and you have to go to the ladies room?
- you can go to the rest room, and come back, pretending that you just checked your voicemail, and there is an emergency which demands your presence at home (or better yet, a friend’s house, if you don’t want to show him where you live), or
- if you decide to go through with the date after the restroom visit, you can take the wise precaution of ordering a fresh drink (you could say the first one didn’t taste good), or just not continue drinking. If you do this, watch for El Creepo’s reaction: Is there disappointment? Frustration? He might’ve been trying to get you drunk, or worst case scenario, even slipped you a roofie.
We’ve got to be safe out there, and watch out for each other.