Going to university for the first time should be an exciting, memorable experience for you, but it can also be daunting.
While it’s easy to get caught up in the fun, eager to impress your new friends and have a fresh start, it’s important that you stay level headed and safe. At Safeline, we’re here to offer guidance on how to make the most of your university experience and keep yourself safe at the same time.
In recent news, there has been an abundance of stories detailing the rise in sexual assaults on university campuses and cities. Despite this, most universities still don’t actively record reports of sexual assaults and sexual harassments. Moreover, 20% of Russell Group universities don’t even have a specific procedure to report such attacks.
These figures are made even more shocking when it’s revealed that one in four students have suffered unwelcome sexual advances during their studies. These recent findings have brought to light a nationwide problem that needs to be tackled however, there are ways in which you can help yourself and others stay safe and unharmed when you’re on a night out.
1. Stick together
University is full of nights out with your friends, and we certainly don’t want you missing out on the university experience! It’s important though that you go out at night together in groups. Make sure you don’t head out in less than threes and that you stick together throughout the night. Keep an eye out for each other, and never think about leaving a venue alone. It’s true what they say, you are stronger together!
2. Make a plan before you go out
In busy bars and clubs, it’s only natural that staying together with your original group of friends may not always be practical, and you’ll become separated from some members of the group. Make sure you always arrange to stay within view of each other. If you plan on going somewhere else, try to let everyone that you came with aware of this. Also make sure you all have each other’s numbers so that you can find each other again.
3. Watch your drinks
It’s natural that people around you will be drinking alcohol to have a good time, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s important to monitor exactly how much you’ve been drinking; consuming excess amounts of alcohol can make you incredibly vulnerable. Also, remember to keep hold of your drink at all times. It’s only too easy for someone to slip something into your glass if you’re not watching. You can avoid this by only drinking out of bottles, not leaving a drink unattended (by you or a close friend) and covering it with your thumb when you’re not drinking.
4. Remember that no means no
If you do meet someone that you like, you may start dancing and things may seem like they might be about to go further. Once again, we won’t tell you how to live your life. Just remember that you can draw your own boundaries. Don’t be pressured into doing anything you don’t want to and be firm. If you say no, make sure you say it clearly and confidently. There’s nothing to be ashamed of and you are more than entitled to change your mind.
5. Trust your instincts
Remember, that you are an adult, and your instincts at this point in your life will usually be accurate. If something doesn’t feel right, even if you can’t pinpoint why, walk away. You shouldn’t let yourself get into uncomfortable situations, and if you do, you should not feel awkward, just leave.
6. Personal alarm
Consider purchasing a personal alarm. These are often very subtle and easy to pop into a handbag on a night out. Some come in key-ring form, and there are even alarm apps you can download direct to your phone such bSafe and React Mobile. This way, if something does go wrong or you are in danger, you can raise the alarm.
7. It can happen to anyone
Anyone can be at risk. Whether you are male, female, heterosexual, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender or queer etc., you are in potential danger. It doesn’t matter what you wear or the way you act, everyone should take extra care because “that won’t happen to me” is unfortunately never the case.
There’s no need to go to university worried and scared, as you’ll no doubt have a great time but should you become a victim of sexual assault, remember it is not your fault and you are not alone. Safeline operates a confidential helpline for you to talk about what you’ve been through and offer support and guidance. If you want to talk to one of our team, call one of the numbers below for impartial advice.
Safeline are here for you #BelieveInYou.
Confidential Helpline No: 0808 800 5008
Confidential Men’s Helpline: 0808 800 5005