I Said No, Now What?

By Katie Golway

With a 136% increase in assaults happening in UK bars, 11.2% of all college students experiencing assault on campus, and 43% of sexual assault related crimes unreported in the United States  - I do not want to hear jokes about women going to the bathroom in groups.

The first time I went to a club, my friends and I established an obnoxious whooping call in case one of us got separated. It was loud, distinguishable, and earned very strange looks. Having fun and prioritizing your safety are not mutually exclusive. When it was time to leave the club for the night, we asked a group of guys to walk us to our friend’s car. We realized about halfway there that we were being followed by a different group of men. They were heavily intoxicated and shouting obscenities at us as we hurried to lock the doors.

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Yes, I understand that not all men behave like this. However, the group who brought us to our car would encourage everyone to protect themselves. We did not speak to the men who stalked us. We did not see them until after we left the club. I do not remember if I made eye contact or smiled, but there was no offered invitation.

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I highly recommend maintaining an exit plan as well as a fully charged phone. Do not be afraid to call an Uber or demand that your friends drive you home. Some bars, such as one location in Tampa, has various drink options that are coded to alert the bartender of your situation. These options are advertised discreetly. They can be found in bathroom stalls, or you can seek out an employee in private.

In addition to these codes, there are options on the iPhone meant to keep you safe. The methods vary depending on what version of the phone that you have. Once those buttons - usually on the side - are pressed, you will be given an option to automatically notify the emergency services nearest to you. This can be set automatically in the “Emergency SOS” option in settings. These emergency options are also available on Android phones under the settings option.

While I do agree it is a shame that we have to go to these lengths, it is validating to consider that people are looking out for people. We have the technology to use to our advantage. Be observant, trust your gut, and be safe.

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