Going out for a drink is a fun and popular social activity for many people. However, alcohol can severely impair a person’s judgement, motor skills, and other important functions—which can raise the risk of falling victim to a violent crime. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), between 30% to 79% of survivors state that they were drinking alcohol at the time of their assaults.
While sexual assault is never the fault of the survivor, it is important to be smart and safe while using alcohol. If you are drinking at a social event, the following tips can help you stay safe and avoid a potentially dangerous situation.
Stay in a Group
If you are going to a public place with a group of friends, always make sure you arrive together and leave together. Perpetrators are more likely to take advantage of a lone person rather than a group. Create a plan for the night that includes the following details.
- The time you will arrive and the time you plan to leave
- How you plan to get home safely after the event
- What to do if someone wants to leave the event early
- What to do if someone finds himself or herself in a dangerous situation
Throughout the night, check in with your friends periodically to make sure that everyone is safe. If someone looks uncomfortable or in an unsafe situation, step in to make sure that he or she is alright. If something is making you feel uncomfortable, do not hesitate to inform your friends and get to safety.
Be Careful with Your Drink
In some cases, sexual assault involves the use of date rape drugs that a perpetrator slips into the victim’s drink. These drugs are often odorless, colorless, and tasteless, and it can be difficult to know whether someone tampered with your drink if you leave it unattended. To stay safe, always keep your drink on your person at all times. Avoid drinking out of punch bowls or other communal vessels.
If you need to go somewhere, either take the drink with you or throw it away. If someone offers you a drink, it is best not to accept it unless you trust them. If you do choose to accept a drink, go with the person to order the drink and watch how it is made. Always carry the drink yourself.
Know the Signs of Being Drugged
Certain drugs make people feel drowsy or disoriented, therefore making them an easier target for sexual violence. Although you may keep a close watch on your drink, a perpetrator may find a way to slip a substance into your cup. Throughout the night, monitor yourself for sudden changes in alertness and comfort.
- Extreme drowsiness
- Feeling too intoxicated for the number of drinks you have consumed
- Feeling or acting drunk even if you did not have alcohol
- Blackouts or memory loss
- Extremely slurred speech
If you notice any of the above signs, tell a friend immediately and call 911. When you reach the emergency room, tell the attending medical professionals that you suspect that you have been drugged.
Seek Help for Sexual Assault
Sexual assault can happen at any time, in any place. Alcohol is never the cause of sexual violence, but the risk of assault can grow if drinking is involved. If you are a sexual assault survivor, you are not alone, and help is available. As soon as possible after the assault, call for help and seek medical attention. After receiving immediate treatment, contact a sexual assault attorney to discuss your legal options.