Thursday, January 13, 2011

Safety Rules for Women at Bars/Clubs

Over the last year, I taught around 8 women's self-defense classes in Vancouver. During that time, in nearly every group I taught, there was at least one woman who either knew someone personally who had had rohypnol slipped into their drink, or had had it slipped into her own drink. Back when I used to go to bars regularly, it was something that you only read about in the papers. Unfortunately, these incidents have become commonplace in recent years. Read more about rohypnol.

To avoid this type of situation, there are a number of safety rules I teach women to follow in my self-defense class. Here they are:

1. Avoid going to bars alone. You're more vulnerable to these types of situations when you're alone. No one is there to intercept if someone attempts to "take you home" in a suspicious way, nor will anyone miss you if you're suddenly gone.

2. Avoid drinking to excess. I understand that it's fun to let loose, but drinking to excess impairs your judgement. You may not recognize a dangerous situation if it happens to you. You're also more likely to take risks you wouldn't normally take when sober. If you're with friends, you might not notice if your friend is in a situation and needs help.

3. Keep track of your drinks. It's not just about staying close to your drink, but actually keeping it in sight. Many women have looked away just for a few seconds, turning around to look for a friend or put their wallet away, and have had their drink drugged in that time.

4. Don't let strangers buy you drinks. Sure, it's nice to save money, not having to buy your own drinks, but when you let someone buy you a drink it can give a man the opportunity to put something in it. Even if the guy isn't looking to drug you, he may feel that you're now obligated to him in some way, and may get angry if you don't feel any such obligation.

5. Look out for your friends (and make sure they're looking out for you). It can be easy to lose track of your friends in a crowded club. Try to stay together, at least with one other friend. Let each other know where you're going to be. It's easier to stay safe and stop bad things from happening if you're all looking out for each other.

I give this advice to women, not to scare them, or to make them feel unsafe when they go out. These are just a few simple practices one can easily make a habit of doing without having to dwell on it overly. By following these practices, women can worry a lot less about what "could" happen, and focus more on just having fun.

My next women's self-defense class is taking place on Sat. Feb. 5. More information.

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