View from the Front Line

By Sarah Kaminski

It’s 8pm at the end of a long work week, and we start thinking about our plans for the evening.

We decide to go for a few drinks. I look in my closet wondering what to wear. Shorts and cardigan? That will work. It’s not like I’m trying to impress anyone, just hanging out with my friends.

We meet up and begin walking downtown. We all have phones, we’re in a group, and we have a guy with us. We know how to stay safe and alert. Dinner was great, now to have a few drinks. We’re having fun chatting about our week when two guys join us. We do not know them. They’re older. They tell us about themselves.

I hear too many details that seem unrealistic. One of them gives a different name then what he said when we met. I am now on edge. Why are they being so secretive? Why do they want to hang out with us? Thoughts of what could go wrong keep flying through my mind.

My friend accepts a glass of water that he brought back to the table from the bar. My first thought was not, “How sweet.” It was “I wonder if he did anything to the water. Is it safe for her to drink it?”

Everything is fine, and we continue to another bar with them. The cycle continues for a few more hours. I watch not only these two strangers, but all the ones that surround us. There are guys groping girls, and girls touching and dancing all over guys. I notice how no one is looking at their drinks; they’re looking at the ‘hot’ bodies they’re dancing all over.

Are they thinking about how much fun they’re having, or their safety? I feel uncomfortable and want to leave, but I can’t leave my friends. I keep shifting my eyes, keeping track of my friends and our surroundings. My thoughts shift from my friends and myself to all the other people we see in the bars and out on the street. How many girls are going home with strangers? How many people drank so much alcohol that they will wake up next to someone they don’t know in the morning?

The answer to that question is probably more alarming than I could ever imagine. My friends are ready to depart and the two mystery guys follow us out of the bar. They continue walking down the street with us, which makes me nervous again. They get in a cab and drive off which makes me feel so great. We walk back home. We made it. We’re all here and safe. How many aren’t?

It’s nights like these that remind me why the work One Student does is so important. What would have happened if those guys followed us home? What if I saw someone getting attacked in the bar?

 There are lessons to learn. Lessons about traveling in a group, always carrying a cell phone, being mindful of who handles your drinks and what’s in them. You can have a good time, but you have to set boundaries, make good decisions and be vigilant.

The people and resources of One Student have provided me with the knowledge and courage to do something. I now know how I would be able to step in and make a difference when sexual assault, sexual violence, or rape are a threat. Visit OneStudent,org to see how you can Be The One!

“Sexual assault prevention is everyone’s responsibility. As a bystander with the potential to intervene, you can prevent a sexual assault. Learn the warning signs of inappropriate situations and do something.”

– Alan D. Berkowitz, Ph.D., Scholar, Researcher and Public Speaker

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