Safety tips for the graduate!

You’ve seen this past week’s CTV segment for young women on protecting themselves when out partying at this year’s grad. If you missed it, here it is:

As sad as it is that women still have to be vigilant about their safety, we will never be able to ignore the real threat of sexual predators. Education and deterrence simply don’t stop all of them. Moreover, many young men, driven by impulse, hormones, peer pressure and a poor set of values, will make bad judgment calls about social and sexual situations, not considering how their actions can harm young women.

The first line of defence against both intentional and ill-informed and incompetent malice is always awareness. Teach your daughters these tips! An ounce of prevention…

Never leave a drink unattended

Whatever it cost, it’s still not worth the risk of assault – let the drink go if you have to. Trips to bathroom, for a smoke, to dance, or even just turning away for a moment all signal that this drink is done. Either finish it or discard it. It only takes a fraction of a second to slip something in a drink. A skilled manipulator can distract the mind, senses and attention of his target deftly without being detected.

Have a plan to get there and get home, and a backup plan if the hotel/sleepover goes wrong

If you sense that you’re feeling ill, have had too much to drink, or are receiving unwanted attention that makes you uncomfortable, leave. Before you even go out, decide how you’re getting there, who’s with you, when you plan to go home or to the hotel, how you’ll get there, and make sure all of your friends are on the same page.

A signal that indicates “Get me out of here!” is a good policy too; something that will spur a friend to interject and pull you away from the conversation or situation that is causing you trouble.

At all times, remember that “No” is a complete sentence. Refusing a drink, an invitation to leave or a sexual advance is a completed act with “No.” If your proposer persists, he/she is disrespecting your boundaries and you can, if you feel comfortable doing so, look him right in the eye and say “you have your answer. Do you plan to assault me in front of all of these people?” Say it loudly. Then walk away.

Have a safety buddy for the situations that might emerge (excessive drinking, drugs, violence, unexpected guests, sexual coercion)

We all have that one friend that we tease for not drinking, not smoking up, being lame, etc… But that friend is the one among you who may have the advantage on awareness, judgment and reaction time on prom night. Alcohol, drugs and hormones alter the senses and the judgment machinery of the brain.

Having a switched-on, sober friend can be a big help in seeing situations develop before they become dangerous, and in preventing us from making decisions we might regret once the haze wears off.

Focus on the event and your friends, not on the pressure that you're "supposed" to do certain things on grad night.

You’re here to celebrate your accomplishment with your friends! You came to play, not to get played! Dress up, go out, have a good time and enjoy yourselves. There are no rules written anywhere that oblige you to doing any drugs, getting hammered, sleeping away from home if you don’t want to, partying with older dudes, or having sex – for the first time or at all. Grad is about celebration; don’t start your life as a young adult with trauma, shame and the potential a lifetime of regret. Say NO if that’s what you feel is right. Nobody that matters will judge you for having self respect.

Remember: NOTHING that you do with anyone is private anymore. From Snaps and Instagrams being taken in fitness club locker rooms, to young men covertly filming and sharing their sexual encounters with unaware partners, you can expect that anything you do sober will end up in someone else’s hands. Imagine what you’re missing when you’re smashed. Pay attention. Be aware. Respect yourselves. Set boundaries. And if someone wishes to attempt to assault you…. Let him have it with both barrels.

About that last part… I can teach you how to do that!