It's that time of year - the leaves are changing colours, the air is getting cooler, and Halloween is fast approaching. With Halloween, there are parties to go to, drinks to drink, and the chance to dress up. It is with increasing popularity that women are gravitating towards revealing and sexy costumes, so I think that this is a great time of year to keep in mind some important safety tips when you're out and about, enjoying your Halloween festivities:
1. Watch your drinks - Keep your drink with you at all times. Walk around with your hand covering the top of your cup so that it deters someone from slipping something in it. If someone is going to buy you a drink, walk with them to the bar and have the bartender pass you the drink personally. If you have to put your drink down even for a second, just buy a new one (it's not worth the risk). Roofies are surprisingly easy to acquire and they're cheap. According to one American study, date rape accounts for almost 60% of all reported rapes (Vis-A-Vis, USA, 1992.).
2. Buddy System - Do your best to party with a friend, and make sure that you each look out for each other. If your friend is taking an inordinately long time at the bathroom, go check on her;
if your friend appears as though she's had too much to drink or things seem out of sort, get her to safety; make sure that you each get home safely; go to and from the party together if possible. Also, where and when possible, take a cab together. There have been a surprising number of sexual assaults in cabs, especially of inebriated women. If you are drunk and by yourself, make an obvious phone call to a friend or boyfriend, "I'm going to be home in 10 minutes. I'm in a cab at Queen W and Dufferin St." Small acts like this can prove to be powerful deterrents.
3. Cover up while in transit - I have no problem with wanting to dress in your sexiest costume, but just remember that there are inherent risks that are associated with choosing to do so. Firstly, while you will garner attention, you will also attract unwanted attention, which you need to be prepared for. I wish the world was different, but it isn't. As part of your preparation, do what you can to minimize this unwanted attention by throwing on a jacket or sweater over your costume while getting to your destination tonight. When you are in a controlled environment (i.e. the party), it is easier for you to rely on the help of friends, security, and (hopefully) other party-goers if you need help.
4. Communicate boundaries effectively - If you're chatting with a cute guy, and it's the end of the night, and he is looking for more action than you are prepared to give, make sure that you communicate that appropriately and effectively. "No. I don't feel comfortable doing anything tonight." If he presses you, be firm and simply say, "No" with your voice trailing down at the end, to show that you mean business. It is important that the words that you say match your vocal pitch. If your voice goes up at the end, or shows flightiness or flirtatiousness, then he will disregard the words you are saying in favour for the pitch that you are communicating. Words and pitch always have to match, so if your words mean business, make sure that your pitch also communicates that.
5. Put your phone and earbuds away - predators rely on the ability to exploit vulnerabilities, and the fact that your eyes are on your phone, or that you can't hear him approaching you from behind because you're listening to music puts him at a marked advantage. If you are traveling by yourself, it is especially important to put your phone away so that you can use your eyes to scan around your environs and know where people are in relation to you. Keep your ears open - do you hear someone walking behind you? Turn around and look. Many women ignore the urge to turn around and see who's walking behind them out of the misguided fear that they will hurt the man's feelings or seem silly for looking. It's always better to look - if he's a nice guy who means you no harm, he'll probably just feel bad for scaring you; if he's a potential threat, now he knows that you a) know what he looks like, b) can identify him in the future if you have to, and c) he no longer has the element of surprise working for him.
Have fun, and be safe!