It’s so important to help our fellow women stay safe and and protect themselves.. Do you have a story to tell or any dating safety tips to share? Would love to hear about them below.
Please note that this topic may contain sensitive information and may be cause for triggers.
FACT:Real Girls Have to Take Their Safety Seriously Everyday Before Walking Out the Door
If I had to take a guess, I’d say that we already have one thing in common. We both want to protect the women that we love and can’t stand to see them (and ourselves) be just another statistic.
I don’t know about you, but I finally had to stop watching Law and Order SVU because of all the very realistic scenarios that would also come to life on the news… It bothered me a great deal… especially since people close to me have experienced situations similar.
There’s a reason the show has to put a disclaimer at the beginning of each episode… because many of them are ripped straight from the headlines.
Femininity = Responsibility
Being a woman has many great advantages but some disadvantages too. Every day when we walk out that door, we are a potential victim.
Perhaps you or someone you know has been assaulted. Many women are still alive to tell the tale, but many of them sadly, are not.
At first, this bothered me because there was nothing that I could do. Or, so I thought… Then, I had the idea for this blog.
My younger sister just started college and dating, so this conversation as well as my newly single foray into dating life has made this REAL TALK very personal and relevant for me again.
With each new woman tragically made the victim, I become more aware of the fact that as females, we are physically vulnerable and must use everything that we have at our disposal to protect ourselves from those we may encounter who may want to attack us, such as in dating.
We want to enjoy our lives, meet new people, and go on dates. But, at what risk to ourselves?
In this blog, I give a real girl’s guide to dating safely with tips passed down from my mom to me with some pointers from my own experience (and a scary dating story of mine).
Even if you think you already know all the basics, there is no harm in reading to see if there is a step you haven’t considered yet.
According to a 1998 survey taken by the National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women, 1 in every 6 American women have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.
Since we can’t always predict when or how an incident will occur, it’s best to take every possible precaution we can ahead of time. It can be as simple as screening your date on video chat beforehand or meeting in a public place.
Later in this blog, I go into more detail and share a list of tips my mom has shared with me over the years. I hope they’re passed down to many more women.
SEXUAL ASSAULT HOTLINE
If you, or someone you know has suffered from sexual assault and you’re too afraid to tell the police, a friend, or family, you can call RAINN, the National Sexual Assault hotline. Visit their website here for more info. You can also get 24/7 help here.
They also have an app that offers victims support, self-care tips, and a mood tracker after to help them heal post-assault.
Safety Dating Tips Passed Down From One Woman to Another
DISCLAIMER: The tips in this blog were passed down from my mom to me. I don’t claim to be an expert or a professional on the subject matter. Use the tips at your own discretion.
Unlike my last blog where I encourage women to date while keeping health in mind during COVID, in this blog, I encourage you to date while keeping your safety in mind.
My goal is to reach as many women as possible that could benefit from these dating safety tips. If I could help even just one female to not become a victim, I would be so happy.
There are many warning signs that we should take into account before we go on a date with someone or while on a date with someone.
Some of the tips you’re about to read may sound fairly obvious. But, you’d be surprised how many women are aware of what to do but don’t for fear of embarrassment or coming off rude.
Knowing these things is just part of being a woman, unfortunately. But, we must keep them in mind if we want to stay safe! Having knowledge is power.
I’m very fortunate that I have an amazing mom who taught me these things early on. When she was my age and dating, they helped her avoid (and get out of) a lot of potentially life-threatening scenarios. They’ve also helped me and I’m hoping, you too.
Before You Read the Tips, Please Know…
I don’t mean to sound dramatic or like I’m trying to scare you… I’m also not trying to tell you what you should do, just giving you helpful tips to make you aware so you can make an informed decision. Because I want you to be safe and live to tell the tale of your awesome (or horribly awesome) dates!
A lot of the tips below apply to the first initial dates until you become more comfortable and trust them. I’m hoping these tips can save the life of you or someone you know. Feel free to share them with someone you think could benefit from them.
No one likes to feel that they’re being paranoid or have to be skeptical toward someone they like… So, these tips may be initially off-putting especially when thinking about actually going through with them.
But, I always think about how a bad situation could have been different had any of the woman went through with the steps like we’re about to discuss. Better to be safe than sorry..
I may scare off any potential dates once they read my secrets… but it’s worth it to me if it benefits you. We have to support our fellow women. And that’s what I’m here to do. So here they are…
20 Dating Safety Tips
Each tip has been modified for current times.
Tip# 1: Meet on Video Chat First
Before even meeting in person, a video chat is always a good idea so you can not only feel them out but screenshot their face as well just in case God forbid, something bad were to happen to you on your date, at least their face is on your computer.
Tip #2: Verify Them
How many times has a girl been on a date where the guy looked nothing like his profile picture? Luckily, this hasn’t happened to me.. and I hope you either. But, it’s a reality we must face.
It’s not only embarrassing and a waste of time to be catfished like that, but it’s also incredibly dangerous to be on a date with someone different from his profile picture.
If you haven’t video chatted with them before your date, have them take a picture of themselves doing what you tell them (i.e. holding up 3 fingers) so you know they’re not pretending to be someone else.
Any guy I’ve asked to do this has been understanding. Just joke and say, “Hello, I’m a female. Gotta stay safe out there”… Most of the time, they’ll understand and want to meet you enough that they’re not bothered by it.
It should be no problem for them. If they don’t want to take a quick pic of them, that’s a red flag. Say, “Goodbye”.
Tip #3: Meet in a Public Place
A restaurant is perfect as a lot of them have cameras and constant wait staff checking in on you. I once had a bad date where the guy was creepy and I let my waiter know on the way to the restroom so he could check on me till I exited safely from the date.
Most in the hospitality business are very understanding of “date nights”. Bartenders, waiters, and hostesses can really be amazing allies on dates.
Tip #4: Look Out for Red Flags
Does their story change a lot? Are their facts not matching up? Do they withhold simple, basic information that any normal person who wasn’t hiding something would be willing to share?
Pay attention to these details as they make all the difference in the end and don’t be afraid to call them out on it. Let them know you’re no fool.
If you don’t feel comfortable doing so, just end the conversation and don’t continue communication.
Tip #5: Don’t Leave the Public Meeting Place
You’re on a great date, you’ve just finished a delicious meal, and already you can sense there’s chemistry. It’s all too tempting to let our guards down completely and just enjoy the moment… throwing all logic and common sense out the window. Girl, don’t I know it.
But, no matter how much fun you’re having, I personally would never leave my “public meeting place” on the 1st date. Not to be funny, but it’s too soon to tell if they’re a serial killer at worst or a serial one nightery at best.
Once you’ve left your safe environment in the public eye, there’s no knowing what the other person can or will do.
What to say?
If your designated “public meeting place” is at the restaurant, stay at the restaurant. At least until after the first few dates or until you’ve gotten to know the person enough to feel safe with them.
So, let’s say your restaurant date is over and he wants to take you for a walk or to a place outside of the restaurant, whether or not you want to see him again, make up some excuse and politely decline.
You can say you’ve had a great date but you’ve been running around all day and you’re getting a bit tired/have an early morning tomorrow/insert excuse here.
If there are any red flags, they’re more likely to come up during these initial dating encounters so you’ll get a good feel for what their intentions are and whether they’re sending creepy vibes.
Tip #6: Who’s Your “Designated Date Attendee”?
What I’m about to say may sound extreme.. lol.. but, I’ve done it on multiple occasions and it’s always made me feel comfortable so I can enjoy my date while staying safe, because isn’t that what all this is for?
Have a friend or family member be your “Designated Date Attendee”, present in the public meeting place.. and watch your initial first date(s) until you feel comfortable to meet this person without them being nearby.
They don’t have to be at the next table and stalk you… Just somewhere around, having a meal themselves or something. The point is for them to keep an eye on you. (i.e. if he slips something in your drink while you’re in the restroom) ** see below for drink test kits.
If you can’t have someone there, befriend the bartender or waiter. They might know this person and give you a heads up. Or, they at the very least can make sure you’re ok. Tip them extra beforehand to watch out for you and look at your date.
They’re in the industry of knowing people and it’s their job to remember not just orders but faces and behaviors as well. Notice how on shows like Law & Order, they always ask the server for an account of what happened, what the person looked like? 😉
If you’re not going to have a “DDA” watch you on your date, the next two tips are important.
*** If you read until the end of this blog, I’ll share a personal story of how a waiter/bartender probably literally saved me from who knows what. ***
Tip #7: Share Your Date’s Info with Someone
Tell a loved one you trust the name, phone number, address, and any other info you have of your date. Also, send a picture of what he looks like and where you’re meeting.
Tip #8: Communicate with Your Designated Contact
Assign someone in your life the role of “Designated Contact” when you’re about to go on a date. Keep in contact with them before, throughout, and after your date. (i.e. mom)
It’s important to not forget that you’re supposed to communicate with them. Leaving them out of the loop might alarm them to call the cops. Or conversely, they’re going to assume you’re still on your way to the date.. not knowing that you’re in danger in the meantime.
Your contact should know the following:
- When you’ve left for your date
- When you’ve arrived
- When you’re leaving
- When you’re home safely
- Hi mom, I’m leaving for my date.
- Just arrived at the restaurant.
Agree that every __ minutes/hours you check-in. Set your alarm as a reminder. If they don’t hear from you after a certain amount of time, they can call 911.
Tip #9: Call, Don’t Text Your Designated Contact
It’s all too easy for your attacker could pretend to be you by texting your “DC”. Make sure to let them know to expect a call from you, not a text. And that if they get a text instead of a call like you agreed upon, to call you. If you don’t pick up, then they should be concerned.
Tip # 10: Have a Plan A, B, & C with Your Designated Contact
Having a plan of action for each of the scenarios that could happen is a good idea. Plan this with your “DC” ahead of time.
Your “DC” is expecting a call from you at 9 PM and your phone alarm is set for that time. But, when that time rolls around, they don’t hear from you. You agree ahead of time that they should be worried and take action at Plan C.
Plan A: They text you to call them.
They don’t hear from you. Go to Plan B.
Plan B: They call you.
You don’t answer. Go to Plan C.
Plan C: They give you 30 minutes then call the cops.
Tip #11: Take a Call in Front of Your Date
Arrange for someone to call you while you’re on your date. After you’ve sat down at the public place, text them that you’re ready to receive the call. Then, answer in front of your date. The point is for them to hear you on the phone.
Then, say out loud, “Hi ___, I’m with so and so now at the restaurant. I’ll tell you when I’m leaving.”
You can play it off in a humorous way so it’s not so rude that you’re taking a call on your date. “I always let someone know when I’m on a date. You could be a serial killer”.
It lets your date know that you have people keeping track of your whereabouts. They are less likely to try anything that puts you in harm’s way if they think someone knows who they are and where you are.
Tip #12: Watch Them Get into Their Car
This does 2 things:
1: Let’s you know what their car looks like so on your way back home, you know if they’re following you.
2: Gives you the ability to take a quick snap of their license plate.
I would even go a step further and make sure they leave first so they can’t follow you. If he’s a gentleman, he’ll probably ask if you want him to wait with you. You can say, “That’s ok, I appreciate you being a gentleman but my rides running behind.. I’ll use it as an opportunity to go to the ladies’ room.”
To ice the burn… you can say, “But, I had a great night and would like to do it again soon…”
Tip #13: Enable Your Phone’s Emergency Setting
For the worst-case scenarios, enabling and using the SOS setting on your phone (if it has one) may just save your life.
I’m not sure if iPhone or Google phones have the setting, but with my Samsung phone, I’m able to set my phone to the SOS emergency setting.
If you’re ever in danger, you can press the power button 3x and an automatic SOS message will be sent to the 4 emergency contacts listed. They’ll be sent a front and back photo, a 5-second voice recording, as well as your exact location which they can track.
Another great option for women is jewelry or accessories w/ a hidden alert button on the backside disguised as a charm. It contacts up to 5 people in the event of an emergency when you press it twice. It can even call 911 for you. It’s called Invisawear and it uses the same response technology as ADT. I couldn’t recommend this enough! This alone can save your life. You can get it on Amazon here.
Tip #14: Charge Your Phone
This sounds obvious, but we tend to get excited getting ready for our date, and forget. Always charge your phone 100% before going on your date.
It might also be a good idea to bring a backup charger in your purse. Wireless chargers work great, so you don’t need an outlet.
Tip #15 Watch Your Drink
It may seem dramatic, but I think it’s one of the most important tips I could offer you because date rape drug incidents are more common than you might think.
According to a 2016 survey conducted by the University of South Carolina, 7.6% of women have either been drugged or have suspected they’ve been drugged.
Date rape drugs are concerning not just because of how effective they are but also because the drug can be given to you in a number of discreet ways that you or people watching you may not even see.
And, another scary thing is that my previous tip (being in a public place) doesn’t help you. People around you will just assume you’re a dumb, drunk girl and not give it a second thought.
Protect yourself by thinking about your drink. Girls are victims of date rape drugs all the time. Don’t let the next one be you.
What to Do:
- Don’t leave your drink unattended.
- If you must leave your drink unattended, order a new one.
- If you don’t want to order a new drink every time you leave it unattended, get a date rape drug test.
One drop of your drink and it tells you if it contains drugs in around 30 seconds.
It’s fast and easy to use! I just recently bought some for myself because they have great reviews.
- Watch your drink & lookout for distractions.
If you’re turning your head to talk to someone, cover your drink. You may think to yourself, “I’ve been watching my drink the whole time” or, “I’ve had my eyes on him the whole time” but that doesn’t mean he’s not teaming up with a buddy of his nearby.
Sometimes guys work in teams, one person drugs while the other distracts the girl.
- If you’re standing around and can’t keep an eye on your drink at the bar, hold it.
This brings me to my next tip…
Tip# 16: Limit Your Alcohol Consumption
As we all know, when we’re drunk, we have the tendency to make really poor choices. Taking the walk of shame or drunk texting your ex is one thing, but being the victim of a dangerous outcome is another.
It seems obvious but, you’re a more ideal target when you’re drunk since you can’t fight back as easily. Don’t drink more than you know you can handle and limit your consumption.
Tip #17: Carry Handsized Self Defense Tools on the Go
It’s very easy to get any one of the items below and keep it on your keychain, in your pocket, or purse.
- Pepper Spray
I’ve held one in my purse since I was 17. Luckily, knock on wood.. I’ve never had to use it. I’m hoping you don’t ever have to either but just in case, one of my favorites is Bling Sting on Amazon…
I like their safety products because they’re cute yet very discreet. They have all different products for a girl’s safety.
I have Bling Sting’s keychain pepper spray alarm combo.
Not all states allow the shipping of pepper spray in the US. Check here to see if your state has restrictions. If so, many stores carry these things. (Walmart, Target, Home Depot, etc.)
There’s something to be said about an alarm that sounds off with a little push of a button.
- Car Hammer
You never know when you’re going to need to break free.
- Car Gear
Never be in a situation where you’re pulled over on the side of the road as a single female asking a stranger for a jump. You’re a boss babe. Equip yourself with tools to handle it yourself.
There are many situations where it is a good idea for a woman to consider carrying a gun. But, before you get one, here’s what you need to know.
- Stun Gun
They’re legal in 48 states for civilian use and are not considered a firearm.
Stun guns are perfect for women to use as a weapon because it fits in our purses and we don’t have to be as strong as our attacker.
However, unlike a taser which allows you to be 15 feet away, you need to be right next to your attacker to use it successfully.
The voltage is strong enough to immobilize the person and impair them mentally so you can get away but because of the low amperage, you won’t inflict permanent damage.
There are a lot of myths about stun guns which you can read here.
- Emergency Car Safety Kit
You never know when a situation will arise in your date’s car and you need to escape.
This kit is great for a woman in an emergency. It has a car escape hammer, security alarm, and pepper spray.
I hope you’re not one of those women who walk around at night but if you are and your phone has a low battery and you can’t see, you’re going to need a good LED light.
This one doubles as a stun gun.
Tip #18: Use Your Shoes
You’re standing on 2 weapons, your shoes. You can use the pointy heel to stab someone’s eye.
Tip #19: Arrange Transportation
How do you get to and from your date safely? Usually, it’s the gentlemanly thing for a man to offer his date a ride home and a woman usually accepts. However, I never do it on the first few dates.
If you want to stay safe, instead, politely decline and say you’ve already arranged for a friend or parent to drive you.
Coordinate this beforehand so you can get to and from your date safely. It’s not childish… We grown-ass women have to be concerned for our safety.
Or, arrange for a ride. I like Safr, a ride-share app for women. (I’m iffy about Ubers/Lyfts which I’ll talk about in another blog)
Tip # 20: Prevention- Self Dense Tutorials & Classes
The more you know in the beginning, the better. Learn how to protect yourself or escape a situation ahead of time so you can act at the moment.
In the past, I’ve taken Women’s Self Defense Krav Maga classes in Boston and they’ve been really informative. See if your city has one.
Other Great Training Options:
Trish Hoffman, Retired Lieutenant of Albuquerque Police Department and Founder of WomenAgainstCrime.com offers self-defense training (one-on-one, group, corporate, & more) for women. You can read her story and learn more about training at her website here.
If you can’t get to a class, online tutorials are a great option. Robin (@dutchintheusa) teaches women many helpful tips in his quick videos such as how to disarm an attacker or get out of handcuffs using your shoelaces, breakout of zip-ties, deter a burglar, and other dangerous, life-threatening situations.
So there you have it, 20 dating safety tips for whether you’re at home or in public. I hope this guide helps you or someone you know in the future.
For more safety tips for women visit womenagainstcrime.com.
If you have anything to add to the list, please leave a comment or message me! Anything that helps a fellow female is definitely worth talking about.
If you found this blog helpful, forward it to a female you think could benefit from it or share to your social media.
Now, as promised…
My Scary Dating Story
I actually had an incredibly scary first date in Birmingham, Alabama. The Bartender at the restaurant I was dining at literally saved me and became one of my closest friends to this day, many years later. (thank you, Winston)
I was in Birmingham on a writing assignment for several weeks and had met a guy online prior to going down. We hit it off great over the phone and in chats. Then, discussed meeting in person.
The lunch was going pretty well until he said he brought me a gift but it was in his car, literally parked in front of the restaurant. We were sitting at the outside tables on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.
He stood up to go to his car and pulled out a camera and a tripod. He also LITERALLY, pulled out a big duffle bag. Creepy right?
It gets better… As he was going through it, a spool of rope fell out. He quickly turned to look at me (red flag).
I was a little panicked, maybe I was thinking too much about it. Finally, he grabbed a small bag. After he put all of his things back into the trunk, he walked back to me and handed me a t-shirt from Florida (Zero clue as to what that was all about).
He then said, “Oh, I brought my camera maybe we could go to this spot I know and take pictures”… I thought this was odd in and of itself. He never mentioned anything about being a photographer and I certainly never said anything about an impromptu photoshoot.
I excused myself to go into the restroom. While walking by the bar, the bartender/waiter (Winston) must have noticed my discomfort and asked if I was ok. I briefly said, “Bad first date, yikes!”
About 10 minutes later, he came out and said, “Hey sis, I’m almost off work now are you about ready to leave?” It took a while but, the creep finally left. WHEW!
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