School can be stressful and sometimes you need to unwind with a night out. Going to a club or bar can be a lot of fun but sober or not, you need to know how to stay safe. Here are a few tips to have an enjoyable night out while staying safe.
1. Always Stay in a Group
When going out to a bar or club, make sure you always take a group of friends. Surrounding yourself with people that you trust is one of the best ways to prevent any unsavoury encounters you may experience while unaccompanied. Agree on a friend to be the Designated Driver (DD) and have them attend the bars with everyone. It’s best to have a sober friend in the group as they can shut down bad behaviour and get everyone home safely.
2. Have a Reliable Ride Home
If you’ve been out drinking, under no circumstances should you get behind the wheel. The best thing to do is have a completely sober friend or relative pick you up and get you home safely. It’s best to organize this beforehand. The next option is to take an uber/taxi or a bus. You should still stick with your group as much as possible, even on your way home. If necessary, arrange to have some of your friends stay at your place or vice versa, negating the need to separate before arriving home safe. If you are riding solo, know how to defend yourself. On a bus, sit as close to the driver as possible or make sure they can see you clearly in the rearview mirror. In a taxi or rideshare service, sit directly behind the driver to easily fend off any potential attacks. Check your driver’s info and make sure it matches the car and the person. Don’t ask “Are you (name)?” Instead, ask “What is your name?” Screenshot their info and send it to a friend. Always let people know where you are, how you are getting home, how long it should take and notify them when you are safely inside.
3. Be Careful With Alcohol/Watch Your Drink
While drink specials and peer pressure may make it tempting, don’t lose control of your drinking. Switch between water and alcohol throughout the night and be sure to eat both before and during drinking. Never leave your drink unattended even if someone says they will watch it for you. Assume the worst if you haven’t watched your drink. In most instances, a person would not be able to see, smell, or taste a difference if their drink had been spiked. There are tools that can be used to test the integrity of a drink with high accuracy, but in a dangerous situation where there is no room for error, it may be best to toss the beverage out.
4. Stay Observant
It can be hard to stay aware of your surroundings in a dark and noisy area like a club or a bar, especially if you’ve been drinking. Avoid becoming too intoxicated to be aware of your surroundings (spilling drinks on people, tripping or other accidents may be an indication that you’ve gone too far and it’s time to go home). Always know where to get a security guard or bouncer if needed.
5. Plan Your Night
Before going out, organize a plan for the evening and stick to it. Make sure you have trustworthy friends to go with you, agree on a designated driver, set a maximum number of alcoholic drinks as well as a minimum of water. Establish a time to leave and don’t stay any later. Make sure that someone not attending the evening knows where you are and will be able to pick you up if necessary.
1. Get Tested/Vaccinated
STIs and STDs can fall anywhere from an inconvenience to life-threatening so it’s best to get tested regularly, especially if you have multiple sexual partners. Talk to your sexual partner(s) about when they were last tested. Make sure they know what they were tested for and when their last test was. Be sure to know if they are sexually active with people other than you. Certain STIs/STDs have vaccinations available, while this does not negate the need to be tested, it is a helpful step in staying safe.
2. Make Sure You and Your Partner(s) Understand Consent
Discussing sexual boundaries with sexual partners may seem intimidating at first but it doesn’t have to make you feel uncomfortable. The ability to ensure everyone involved is on the same page is the best way to avoid problems. Always ask before attempting anything, never assume the other person will be fine with it. Listen to their answer and pay attention to their body language. If they say “no,” don’t give an answer, or say “yes” with apprehension or while clearly being uncomfortable, you have not received consent! Remember, consent can be withdrawn at any time. If a sexual partner says “yes” to something at first, they are still free to say “no” or “stop” at any time. Never be embarrassed to state what you are not comfortable with. Don’t have sex if either you or your partner(s) are intoxicated. Intoxicated people are not capable of giving informed consent.
3. Don’t be Afraid to Discuss/Establish Boundaries
The best way to avoid any misunderstandings in the bedroom is to discuss sex beforehand with your partner(s). Set boundaries for yourself and respect your partner’s boundaries. If you want to try something new, use this time to discuss it before, rather than during sex. If a sexual partner does not want to discuss your boundaries or seems not to understand consent, safely get out of the situation as quickly as possible.
4. Know How to Avoid STIs
If you have more than one sexual partner and it’s been less than six months since testing negative for STDs/STIs (you and your partner(s)), you should not have unprotected sex. Use condoms every time you have sex. If someone is allergic to latex, other materials are available. Never double-up condoms, rather than adding extra protection, the friction will increase the chance of the condoms breaking. If you are using lubricant make sure it is water-based rather than oil or silicone.
5. Understand Contraceptives
For people with wombs that don’t wish to conceive, there are several birth control options: implants, IUDs, shots, pills, patches, condoms and operations. With such a long list of options ranging from free to rather expensive, it may seem overwhelming to try and decide which one is best for you. There is plenty of medical research online which is a great place to start, but talking to your doctor or a licensed medical professional about your options is ideal, as well as necessary for things like the Birth Control Implant and the IUD.