February 22, 2011 / Safety

Top 10 Safe Dating Tips for College Women


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!

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  • yttik

    For a change, how about 10 safe dating tips for rapists and psychos?? Like, no means no. Do not put date rape drugs in somebody’s drink. Do not lurk in dark alleys waiting for a vulnerable woman to come by. Do not get drunk. More often than not, people make choices they later regret under the influence of alcohol. If you are so fricken dangerous, drive your own self and make sure you stay in public areas for the safety of the woman you are dating. Or better yet, if you are a woman hating moron, don’t date at all.

    I mean seriously, for decades now women have had these lists of helpful hints, all about how they must alter their lifestyle and stay hyper-vigilant to prevent rape. When are we going to start making rapists accountable and demand they stand under a lit street light??

  • Henrietta

    This is a great list that I wish I had when I was a young woman. Rapists should not rape of course but young women need to be able to identify a dangerous scenario and take precautions. I grew up in the age of shouting out “no means no” but those political sentiments get lost when you are in a one on one situation with a young man who is stronger than you.

    I think this is also the sort of list that might effectively demonstrate that despite everything we are taught in terms of women having ALREADY reached equal rights, that this is not the case and our society is far from being a safe and egalitarian place for women.

  • Wendy

    I’d like to echo the other post… if we made a list of all the tips that women have been given throughout their lives on ways to remain safe in our everyday lives… and acknowledged how many of us do keep them in mind at most times, perhaps men would start to understand just how completely it is to be a woman even in the US.

  • Wendy

    I meant completely *different*.

  • Kathleen Wynne

    I agree with yttik.

    While I understand your point, Henrietta, I also know that by women always making adjustments to accommodate horrific male behavior only enables it to continue.

    Men ONLY seem to respond to the need to change their otrosious behavior when there are real consequences they cannot get a free pass, excused or a slap on the wrist for. Hell, you get more time in jail for stealing money than you do for raping a woman.

    Obviously, money has more value than a woman in our society and that’s not going to ever change if women continue to alter their lives and undermine their ability to have live lives that are truly free and unrestrained from constant fear and adjustment to bad male behavior.

    As long as men have the majority of the power politically, economically and in socially, women will have little recourse through conventional means to hold them accountable to the extent they would actually change. The primary reason men don’t respect women is imply because they know they can get away with this behavior. Much like a spoiled child acts because their parents always makes excuses for them and don’t hold them accountable.

  • Bes

    The government is never going to do an adequate job of making women safe. Women need to do it ourselves and these tips are a good place to start. But we don’t have to do it alone, we could organize. A group of women vigilantes would go a long ways toward changing things. You are right when you say bad male behavior by some men continues because they know they can get away with it. It is clear no matter how much effort is made the Government isn’t going to keep women safe but fear of well publicized vigilante vengeance could keep some male offenders in line. Others are impulsive and don’t consider consequences even to themselves. But womens safety is up to us.

  • marille

    great comments. women vigilantes, I love it. reclaim the night marches instead of avoidance counseling.
    what about a list what behavior and virtues you need to see in a men you actually are interested to have as friend?
    is he interested in equality?
    is he a fair player?
    how does he treat other women?
    how is he behaving when in male groups?
    what could be mutual interests?
    I hope my kid will not go to parties with people she does not know.