What are the Risks?
Date drugs are increasingly common and ever more inventive – even cigarettes can be spiked these days. Abduction, sexual assault or threats might also be at the top of your worry list. Are these concerns substantiated?
Although every country is different a case study in the UK showed that around 45,000 women are raped each year, a figure that peaks during the party season; 50% of the victims are drunk at the time of the crime. Drug rape figures are difficult to come by; it has been reported that in 2003, more than 1,000 people reported a suspected drug rape, but only 168 cases were convicted in courts. More than 50% of victims were drugged at a pub or bar.
You can reduce your risk by using your common sense; meet your dates in busy, safe places and get home before it’s too late; guard your drinks; and, if you’re very worried, ask friends for back up. Here are six essential safety tips if you’re preparing to meet a date
- Check Online: If you haven’t met your date before, Google his or her details, including nicknames, schools and every other detail her or she has unwittingly given you. This will help you to get a good feel of how the world sees this person, and it just might save you from performing a hit-and-run at the bowling alley. Google is the dating world’s online private eye, letting you in on office pages, newspaper clippings and even Blogs related to your potential date.
- Dress Modestly: Whatever you usually wear, tone it down for your first date – women should expose no more than neck and arms. We’re sorry to be strict but it’s best not to give your date false hopes until you have decided whether or not you like him/her. Dressing modestly has a dual purpose: it’s kinder to your date, whose attention will be totally devoted to you; and it doesn’t give the impression that you will ‘put out’ before the night is over. (Some women have reported stories of men on blind dates who expect sex as a matter of course – some of whom will plan this out methodically.)
- Choose a Busy Venue: Picking a crowded bar has many advantages for the nervous first-dater. For one thing, there are too many men and women coming in the door for you to keep track of, so the only thing to do is focus on your drink and think happy thoughts. You won’t suffer the terrible turn-up-and-run fate that many first-daters report (date walks in door, date spots partner, date walks straight back out) – or if you do experience it, you’ll be too occupied talking to the bar staff to notice. Finally, a busy venue allays your safety concerns – no quiet alleyways or unknown car routes. If you can persuade a couple of friends to drink on the next table, so much the better.
- Buy your own Drinks: Unfortunately, the days of buying drinks for your date are over. It’s so easy to spike a drink or cigarette that our best advice is: always buy your own, then don’t take your eyes off it. If you need to visit the loo, then finish your drink first! And, because you’re on a date, be wary of drinking too much; it could affect your state of mind and lead to post-date regret!
- Your Emergency Get-Out Clause: Whether your friends are on the next table or not, an emergency get-out clause is definitely in order. There are several approaches to this: if you have a reliable friend, you could ask them to call you at a predetermined time. (When you take the call, if you want to leave your date, return to your seat announcing a family emergency – and get the next bus home.) You can also arrange for friends to meet nearby or even at the same venue, so that you can indicate for them to join or rescue you using a predetermined signal.
- Don't go too Far: If this is a blind date, you simply don’t know enough about the person to commit to anything in these early stages. Did you hear about Pam, the internet dater who googled her lovely new boyfriend and found that he was on America’s Most Wanted list? Take it easy, play safe, and enjoy a few more dates getting to know one another – that way all the nasty stuff has a chance to come into the open…