Headed Out To a Bar? 5 Tips To Keep You Safe

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If a fun-filled night at the hottest bar in town is on your agenda this weekend, make sure you pack your common sense… and safety tips… along with your lip gloss.

Remember, drinking spots can be a great way to let your hair down and meet people, but it can also bring along risks, including unwanted sexual advances. 

 According to data released recently from “Blurred Lines?” Sexual Aggression and Barroom Culture, a study conducted by senior scientist Dr. Kathyrn Graham of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health at the University of Toronto, and colleagues from Western University and Curtin University, more than 50 percent of women experienced sexual aggression after a bar setting—and 90 percent of the incidents involved male initiators and female targets.

Unfortunately, sexual aggression has become something that’s normal — and even expected —in bars, but there are certain things you can do to stay alert and protect yourself from inappropriate and potentially aggressive situations. Here are five ways to stay safe without sacrificing a good time.

1. Be wary of strangers. You’ve been warned about ‘stranger danger’ your whole life and it’s especially true in a sexually-charged atmosphere like a bar. Bar-based aggression is almost certainly more likely to involve people who don’t know each other very well or at all, according to Jeanette Norris, a senior research scientist with the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute at the University of Washington. This unfamiliarity deems the perfect condition for sexual aggression and could have at least two consequences, she says. “First, perpetrators might be more likely to depersonalize and dehumanize the targeted woman, and second, it might lead them to believe they are less likely to suffer any consequences for their actions.”

2. Drink less. It’s probably not surprising that an aggressor often chooses their targets based on their alcohol consumption. “Women who are more intoxicated may be seen as easier or more blameworthy targets—or as targets less able to resist,” says Dr. Graham. Norris also agrees: “Other research has shown that women who drink are often seen as more sexually available than women who do not drink. They may also be seen in generally negative or derogatory ways – as sluts, unfeminine, or generally not worthy of respect – which may provide an excuse for attacking women sexually.”

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