Dari Dyrness-Olsen, MA, LPC is nationally known as “America’s Safe Dating Coach” and is the founder of www.SafeDatingCoach.com.
The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and not necessarily those of The New Agenda.
1. Tell someone the 5W’S of your date:
Always make sure that someone close to you, like your college roommate, knows WHO you are going out with, WHAT you are doing, WHERE you are going, WHEN you will be home, and WHY you are going out with this person- is it an individual or group date or are you hanging out as “just friends”?
2. Fully charge your cell phone.
A cell phone won’t work unless it is FULLY charged. Get into the habit of charging your cell phone when you are in your dorm room or apartment before you go out. It is always wise to have a charged cell phone with you on a date,especially if you need to dial 911. Cell phone videos or audio recordings can be used as powerful evidence when crimes are committed.
3. Drive yourself.
If possible, drive yourself or meet your date wherever you are going.
Better to be safe than sorry, especially if you really don’t know this new person. If you drive yourself, then you have your own vehicle to come and go as you please. You don’t have to rely on anyone else to get you back home safe & sound.
4. Always keep an eye on your drink!
Always watch your drink being poured & handed to you – even if it is a nonalcoholic drink. Never leave your drink unattended- bring it with you everywhere you go, even to the bathroom. If your drink tastes funny, throw it away. Date rape drugs can taste salty and have excessive foam or they can be colorless, odorless, and tasteless. If you feel “weird” after having a drink, stop drinking it immediately, tell a friend, and dial 911 for an ambulance. Better to be safe than sorry.
5. Know your alcohol limit.
Always be in control of yourself on a date and know your alcohol limit. It’s better not to drink alcohol at all, especially on a first date. Don’t ever let someone pressure you into drinking more than you want to. More often than not, people make choices they later regret under the influence of alcohol.
6. Never be afraid to say NO.
Never be afraid to say NO, even if you have started something you don’t want to finish. You are in charge of your body and you need to have boundaries. If someone really likes you, whether you say no or not, will not determine the future of the relationship. Healthy relationships are based on mutual respect.
7. You don’t owe anyone anything.
Never feel pressured to do anything you don’t want to do. You never “owe” anyone anything, even if they buy you a present or pay for dinner. You are in charge of yourself and your body. Never let anyone make these decisions for you. Your body is a temple and your sexuality is a special gift. Don’t give it away to just anyone.
8. Avoid isolated places on a date.
Try to stay in a public place or around a group of people when you are on your date. Never go into a room alone or a car alone- this is how women get raped. There is safety and protection in numbers.
9. Be ready to avoid sexual pressure.
Always have some good excuses to avoid sexual pressure. Here are a few failsafe ones – “No, I don’t want to”, “I have my period”, “I’m waiting for marriage”, “It’s against my religion”, or in an extreme situation “I have a contagious STD”.
10. Learn how to defend yourself.
Sign-up for a self-defense class to learn how to defend yourself when and if you ever need to. The U.S. Dept of Justice reports that a woman is raped every 2 minutes in the United States. 20-25% of college women will experience attempted or completed rape during college according to the CDC. Please don’t become a statistic. Safe dating is smart dating!