Question – What makes a good night out?

Being with friends? A special occasion? Great atmosphere? Exciting venue?

All valid answers.

If you Google the question (yes, I did. I know, I’m a sad person.), you’ll get a myriad of suggestions. Some with conflicting views, one suggesting putting deodorant or talcum powder in your shoes, drinking green tea before venturing out, and one website recommend that as part of having the best night of your life you incorporate a one-night stand!

Another sage advised not to share a taxi home with strangers or people you may know. At last, some good advice. Unfortunately, I fear, this was again written in the context of a sexual encounter, as this person went on to describe how awkward it may be waking up with someone you know the following morning!                       

This dove-tailed into an individual who advised that a perfect night out should have “perceived risk.” At this point, I would highlight the operative word “risk.” An ‘element of risk’, however exciting and adventurous it may seem at the time, can have serious outcomes. Even if you’re considering a dodgy kabab!

As we all know, alcohol lowers inhibitions and increases social behaviour. This can lead to all sorts of problems such as picking up an STD, pregnancy, or far worse dangerous and even fatal consequences. So please be extremely careful.

But this did lead me to thinking about safety, and whether this should also be considered as an important element to what makes a good night out?

I know that when we’re going out, and we’re excited, and there’s all the build up to the ‘big night out’, the last thing we want to think about is something negative such as our safety. But that’s the world we now live in.

Several websites I viewed did venture onto the topic of staying safe. Helpful tips included ideally never going out alone, and to take a friend with you. It was also advised to notify someone you trusted of where you were going, who you were going with, what time you were expecting to be back etc? There are now many apps that can help in this aspect.

One recent development in terms of added danger to a night out are drinks being spiked, and believe me, it’s much more prevalent than you might think. It’s estimated as much as one third of spiking is related to a sexual assault, with the use of drugs such as Rohypnol and Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB). Known as ‘date-rape’ drugs, they can be colourless, odourless and tasteless, and leave the body in a short space of time – making them much harder to detect. ‘Recreational drugs’ such as Ecstasy, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), Ketamine can also be applied to spike a drink.

Symptoms of drink spiking depend on many factors but can leave the victim sedated or incapacitated and more vulnerable to attack. Mixing alcohol and stimulants can be very dangerous and can cause serious problems, ranging from nausea to heart failure. Don’t forget, food can also be spiked.

Thus, it’s highly recommended not to leave your drink unattended, or sitting it down. Be wary of anyone who hands you a drink, always keep your eyes on your drink even while it’s being poured, and if you’re in a group, ask everyone to look out for each other.

You can also incorporate psychological and physical deterrents such as a drink cover that fits over most glasses, with a slit to accommodate a straw. Or a stopper that fits in the top of beer bottles, for example, that works in conjunction with a straw. Both of which are available in the Personal Safety Pack.

Femicide Census is an organisation that collects information on men’s violence against women. For 10 years up to 2018, on average,1 woman was killed every 3 days. Sadly, more deaths have taken place since, including those of Sarah Everard, and Sabina Nessa.

Latest statistics by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) up to March 2020, estimated that almost 5 million women had been victims of a sexual assault during the course of their lives. This figure includes 1.4 million victims of rape or attempted rape. Police records show miniscule number of convictions.

The ONS also recorded that sexual assault was most common among women aged 16 – 24, with 1 in 10 having been a victim. 1 in every 40 young women said they’d been victims of rape, and 1 in 5 said they’d been victims of stalking.

The 2021 UN Women UK YouGov survey clearly shows that sexual harassment in public places continues to be highly prevalent and concerning. 71% of women of all ages in the UK have experienced some form of sexual harassment in a public space – this number rises to 86% among 18-24-year-olds.

In addition, 4 out of 10 women that had been groped or had been touched without consent, and 1 in 5 had faced indecent exposure.

So, I ask myself again the question, what makes a good night out?

Having fun? Absolutely! But in order to have fun, I need to know that I’m safe.

Consider Life Centric’s Personal Safety Pack as a way of helping you stay safe.

The pack contains items that will help you stay safe in real time. For example, various alarms, a drink cover to help prevent drinks being spiked, and if required, a portable door lock.

Of course, you should always apply common sense and not simply rely on products to keep you safe.

My advice is take as much care as you can on your safety as planning your night out. As the advert says, “every little helps!”

Have fun and stay safe! Don’t become a statistic!

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