I grew up in the 60s. Back then, the biggest fear we had about dating was getting pregnant. Today, parents need to be educated and informed about so much more than the possibilities of pregnancy. Although it is not  considered as socially shameful as it once was, the stigmas related to premarital sex and pregnancies are still around. But today there is so much more to be aware of, and make certain our children know, as well.

Did you know that one in six women will, at some time in their life, be a victim of attempted or successful sexual assault? Every 2 minutes someone in the United States will be the victim of sexual abuse or rape. Rape is the most under-reported crime in this country, and it most often occurs in the home of the victim, or at a friend’s house.

Have a drink?

When it comes to date rape, alcohol is the “substance of choice.” The perpetrator will ply his date with booze, or wait for her to become intoxicated, and then move in for the attack. And, 1 IN 4 YOUNG WOMEN IN COLLEGE WILL BE SEXUALLY ABUSED OR RAPED.

Your daughters should know it is not only okay to be picky about who they date, but they should be. Who is this guy? How did you meet, or have you met? What do you truly know about him? Just because he’s a big man on campus does not make him safe. There have been (and currently ARE) a lot of well known celebrities who are also in the news as abusive, violent or who have purportedly attempted sexual assault. 

Think he loves you because he is always so jealous whenever another guy looks at you? Does he tell you what to wear, or text you constantly to check your whereabouts? Ever grab your arm and menacingly tell you, with “that” look, “You are MY girl. Nobody else is going to have you but ME!” Has he ever encouraged you to get drunk with him, or join him in doing drugs? You have just experienced all sorts of red flags warning you of potential sexual abuse or domestic violence.

Parents, get educated, and then educate your daughters. But, for goodness sake, don’t ever be deceived to think using, “You are never allowed to see him again!” will work. You were a teen once, and remember how that only spurred you on to rebellion and having your way? Teens are at a point where they are trying so hard to establish control of their own life, become adults and call their own shots.

Teach your daughters to use the buddy system at all times in school, and also in social settings. Contact the administration of the college where your daughter attends and ask if they have any program, seminars or other dissemination of education or information to make their female students safer. Ask how many assaults have been reported, and bear in mind that ONLY 1 IN 8 SEXUAL ATTACKS ARE ACTUALLY REPORTED.

Keep your buddy near

Stress to your daughters to never, ever, ever walk away and leave their drink sitting behind. A few years ago I went alone to a local restaurant/lounge to hear one of my favorite oldies groups. I sat in a prominently visible booth, and made it a point to scan the room, see who was there. One guy at the bar seemed to keep looking my way, in a rather unnerving manner. I had one glass of wine and then switched to water. During a break I took my leave to the restroom. When I returned to my seat I began sipping my water. In about 15 minutes I became very dizzy. I noticed the guy who had been seated at the bar was no longer there. I waited for a group to leave, and walked out when they did, barely able to maneuver. I was wobbly, at best. Fortunately, I had gotten lucky (was it really LUCK?) and found a parking space right outside the door. I jumped into my car, looked and saw the unknown man walking around the corner of the building. In retrospect, I probably should have asked the restaurant staff for help, but in the words of Helen Reddy, I was “woman” and thought I could “roar.”

The next thing I remember is calling a friend on my cell phone, as I woke up inside my garage, with the door closed and the car running. Now, there are a lot of “could’ve happeneds” there. Thank God I made it out alive. Again, never ever ever leave your drink unattended. Take it to the restroom with you. Don’t be more concerned about appearing dorky than being safe. If you leave your table and only one of the people there is an unknown, still take your drink with you. It’s not a matter of trustit’s a matter of self preservation. Better to be a little paranoid and safe, than haphazard and rapedor dead.

Better safe than dead...

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