Until recently, much of the discussion surrounding rape and sexual assault was served with a side of victim blaming. Questions such as ‘What was she wearing?’, ‘Was she drunk?’ and ‘Were they dating?’ often take center stage in a frantic scramble to blame instances of rape on anything but the rapist(s). As a result we’ve seen rapists evade justice time and time again. Only recently has the severity of this issue been given full attention in the media as a result of several high profile cases. By far the most prolific of these was the trial of Brock Turner who served only three months for the rape of an unconscious woman behind a campus dustbin.
The simple fact remains that women and men can be taken advantage of drunk or sober, in heels or pajamas, by boyfriends, friends or strangers and it is never their fault. Though sexual assault at university is often blamed on drinking culture the only common denominator in cases of rape is the moment when a person makes a decision to violate.
With that being said, you can still take steps to allow yourself to feel as secure as possible on a night out. Taking these 5 precautions should allow you to enjoy your night without fearing for your safety…
Charge Your Phone
Make sure your phone is always fully charged before the start of your night. It can be a vital lifeline if you or one of your friends needs help or to report a sexual assault. I’ve found from personal experience the Uber app is useful if you need to leave a place fast as it generally comes within 5 minutes of being called. You can also use it if you’ve lost your wallet as you pay within the app and it costs less than a traditional taxi.
Talk to Your Friends
Make a safety pact with the people you’re going out with. If you leave the club make sure the people in your group know where you are going and how to contact you. If you’re walking home or changing location, take your buddy with you.
Always have an emergency £10 with you in case you need to need to get home. Resist the temptation to spend it on another Jesticle as you never know when you might need it.
Stay in Busy Areas
Don’t go into secluded areas with people you don’t know well. If you choose to go home with someone, assess both of your levels of intoxication and make clear what you do and do not consent to. If you feel uncomfortable, overly intoxicated or change your mind at any point then leave and call a taxi rather than walking in an unlit area alone or sleeping in an unfamiliar place.
Keep Your Drink Close By
Don’t accept drinks from strangers and don’t leave your glass unattended at any point. If you suspect your drink may have been spiked tell a friend or a member of the bar staff immediately and ask for them to call you a taxi home.
If the worst does happen and you are sexually assaulted, Southampton Rape Crisis advise you to take the following steps:
- Get somewhere safe. Call someone to collect you or get a taxi.
- Seek support straight away: If you are willing to involve the police, call 999 immediately. They can organise taking forensic evidence should you wish to report the incident.
- Contact/Visit the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (Treetops SARC), who have crisis workers available by phone 24/7 and can provide healthcare and medical examinations as well as make referrals for additional support. If you wish to speak to a counsellor immediately call the Samaritans on 116 123 or the Local Southampton rape crisis hotline on 023 8063 6313.
- Try to resist the urge to wash yourself or your clothes until you have decided whether or not to seek medical support or report to the police. The DNA present on you and your clothes can be used as evidence against your attacker.
- Additional points of care can include:
- Accident and Emergency (A&E)
- Family Planning clinics
- Your GP
- Sexual Health Clinics
- For longer term support, you may get in touch with Southampton Rape Crisis. They provide counselling, therapeutic groups and Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs).
So please, be safe on a night out, it’s worth doing these little things to make sure that at the end of the night, you get home safely.