Every two minutes somewhere in the United States a woman is sexually assaulted. One in four women is a victim of rape or attempted rape. And 57% of rapes happen when on dates. Unfortunately, date rape and sexual assault are occurring more and more often and with the popularity of online dating today, it is necessary that women arm themselves with the knowledge to avoid such attacks.
Do not jeopardize your physical and emotional well-being for a night out of fun. By observing the following tips, you can still have a great time and date rape and sexual assault can be prevented because safety is in your hands:
1) Take a self-defense class. This is a great tool for women of any age, dating or not. By preparing for the worst by learning self-defense moves, you will know how to protect yourself if you should be in a dangerous situation.
2) Choose a public place. If you are meeting someone you’ve been in communication with online for the first time face-to-face, make sure you do so at a crowded, public venue. Do not rely on the guy for transportation—if you are alone in a car with a man you don’t know, you are putting yourself at risk and have an automatic disadvantage. Meet him at the place of your date.
3) Enlist backup. Double-dating or group dating with other couples on the first few dates with someone new is a good way to keep yourself safe. Having friends around that you trust to look out for you will help you feel more comfortable and decrease your risk for harm.
4) Skip the alcohol. Sound judgment is the first thing to go when drinking and alcohol makes a date rape situation more likely to occur. In fact, of all reported rapes and assaults, alcohol was a factor for 55% of women attacked and 75% of men who raped/assaulted. So for the first couple of dates, make sure you stick to non-alcoholic beverages.
5) Pay your own way. It is also a good idea to ignore the traditional rule of the man paying for your date. Some men tend to think that just because they bought your meal, you owe them something at the end of the night. To avoid any confusion about this, consider going “Dutch” and take care of your own ticket.
6) Give details in small doses. When first getting to know someone, be sure not to dish out every little piece of info on your life. Keep things like your home address, work address and other personally identifying information to yourself until you are comfortable and the guy has proved he is worthy of your trust.
7) Define the boundaries. To assert yourself as a strong woman who is in control of the dating situation, don’t be afraid to communicate with your date about what you’re comfortable or uncomfortable with. Let him know if you find his behavior unacceptable and if this should anger him, this is a definite red flag that must be heeded. Bow out and end the date right there.
8) Keep an eye on your belongings. Watch your purse, wallet, cell phone and drink when out with someone you’ve never met before. It is especially important to never leave a drink unattended or ever take a drink from someone you don’t know—there is the chance of being slipped a date rape drug.
9) Inform your friends. Make sure you let a friend or family member know where you are going and who you’re going with. Keep your cell phone on you and have them check in on to see how things are going throughout your date. Be sure to call this person as soon as you get home to let them know you are safe.
10) Don’t be overly trusting. It doesn’t matter if the guy seems nice or not…you still don’t really know a person from just one date. Don’t let your guard down—if you are overly trusting it may signal to a man with the wrong intentions an easy target. Rely on your intuition and if your gut is telling you something is not right, then there is no need to be polite and tolerate a certain environment—leave immediately and get to safe place.