-A blog thought by yours truly (Adrienne Bulinski)
A few evenings ago I was rehearsing music in my living room when I was startled by a knock at my back sliding glass door. The sun had already set, it was snowing the first big fat flakes of the season, and there were no lights on outside. Yes, I was startled but to my relief it was a young lady in snow boots, a winter coat, gloves, and a clipboard in hand. It was obvious she wasn’t having car trouble, but was either selling or soliciting. Before I go on, I should also mention our house is up a long driveway, on a hill, and tucked behind a grove of trees. We live on acreage which means while we have neighbors you must cross properties in order to exchange hellos. So, to have a young lady BY HERSELF standing at my backdoor IN THE DARK was not something I was expecting.
After hollering down the stairs to verify my husband was inside I flipped on the lights and opened the door.
“Hi,” I said rather excitedly. “It’s freezing out, come inside.”
“Oh thank you,” she said as she stepped inside without hesitation.
We exchanged names and I asked what I could help her with. She was collecting money for The Blue Bench project. While I had heard of The Blue Bench I asked her to refresh my memory. She went on to explain they are a group of volunteers collecting money so they can support this organization that is on a mission to end sexual assault.
A noteworthy organization.
I commented how I was surprised she was out on a night that was so cold and she said it was the perfect time to knock on doors with the recent Weinstein allegations that were in the news.
I agreed with her timing, although I was surprised she was alone.
While I handed over my donation I asked her what the organization does exactly. She explained how they are big on educating people about what consent is and “being drunk isn’t consent” she added. I found that an interesting comment. The young lady appeared to be in her early 20s (or what I would refer to as “college age”) so the comment made sense.
“Do you teach any prevention?” I asked.
“We work with bartenders and business owners so they can spot perpetrators.”
“Yes, that’s great but do you teach people how to be responsible when they go out?” I asked.
She went on to tell me that a perpetrator is going to act regardless. As I listened I became a bit frustrated and tried to explain myself, “yes, but are you teaching people how to keep themselves safe,” I paused, “from putting themselves in vulnerable situations?”
She kept going back to how the organization responds to victims who have been sexually assaulted.
She was very keen on response versus prevention. I, on the other hand, am very interested in prevention as well as response.
Question: if we spend more time “preventing” would we spend less time “responding”? I don’t have the answer but it is the launch point for writing this blog…
Let me be very clear: I’m not commenting on sexual assault in our society or situations that lead to sexual assault (the good Lord knows how many stupid decisions I’ve made). I’m commenting on our own behavior in which we are responsible. I do believe we are responsible for our own actions and it is important to be educated and have a plan. All of us have been in sketchy situations at some point. Are we sharing the lessons we have learned and actively making the effort to not let it happen again?
The reality: we will all be in situations (at some point) that could be questionable… have a plan!
Yes, reacting to sexual assault is important (and from what I know about The Blue Bench it is a very noteworthy cause… hence I made a donation), but are we as a society teaching our youth how to 1) not put themselves in vulnerable situations and/or 2) how to remove themselves from situations before they escalate out of control?
I gave the young lady at my door a few examples of prevention and sadly I could tell no one had ever shared these with her. I have lived all of the examples below. If you find them valuable USE THEM and please pass them on.
Here are my top ten for you to share with yourself or someone you love. The theme: Be smart!
(Side note: If I would have “been smart” the day I decided jumping on a horse was a good idea – because I didn’t think through my actions – I wouldn’t have jumped on that horse… don’t know what I’m talking about > check out “Blood Sweat & Tiaras” I wrote a book about it.)
- When you are “out” your drink never leaves your hand, and just because it is in your hand doesn’t mean you are acting responsibly. For example, when you hold a cup/glass, hold it at your heart level under your nose (as though a string is connecting your nose to the glass). If you turn your head right your glass stays under your nose. If you turn your head left… you get the picture. I have seen far too many people careless with their drinks and just because you’re holding it doesn’t mean you can’t be drugged. You are responsible for your beverage. Be smart!
- If you get up to go to the bathroom (or walk away for any reason or look away for any reason) that drink is done. Even if you put a coaster over it before you walk away. Why do you think bartenders pour beverages ON THE BAR? Because drinks are supposed to be in your eyesight at all times. Be smart!
- What is your plan if you go a date and you have one too many martini’s? Not because you ordered them but because your date did. Will you be getting a hotel room? Will you be escorted there? Do you have money for an Uber? Have a plan. Be smart!
- Just because a person buys you a drink doesn’t mean you have to drink it all (or any of it). Yes, some of us (me) used to think it was impolite to NOT finish a glass of wine. Whatever. Be smart!
- If you’re “out” and you want to get away from a creepy person (in my situation it was my date) but they are following you around, what are you going to do? Excuse yourself to the bathroom but instead go outside and catch a cab? What if he follows you to the bathroom and waits outside the door? What if you say you want to go home and he insists on escorting you there? Why am I asking this? Because I’ve lived it… and I refuse to type the things this guy said to me in my ear. My game plan… I had the cabby drop me at a building where I used to live – a building that had doormen. I hung out with the doormen (who had become my friends) until I could safely go home.
- NEVER ever EVER let a first date pick you up at your apartment (especially if you live alone). Especially if it’s a blind date. There is no reason he/she needs to know where you live until that person passes your inspection — which should take a minimum of three dates. Your home is your castle and unless you have a moat, a dog, and a bodyguard it’s not smart. Period. Be smart!
- When you’re headed out (on a date or with friends) always always ALWAYS use the buddy system. No the buddy system doesn’t work on a date, but you always always ALWAYS have a person you trust who knows where you are, who you are with, and when you’re supposed to be home. Yes, it sounds like parenting but do it anyway. Even for my first date with my husband (I was 26 years old) I had a girlfriend who had all the details of my whereabouts. I didn’t know if he was a creeper (even if he did appear normal)! Be smart!
- Don’t ever walk down a street that has no other person on it. Seriously, who does this? Stupid people. If it is a shortcut, I don’t care, go the long way. Be smart!
- Never invite a solicitor in your house if you are home alone. Be smart!
- Don’t put your address on your business card, email signature, or anywhere online. If someone needs to find where you live make them work for it. Be smart!
These are ten basic examples. Come up with your own situations and have a game plan! Be smart!
Now, please go back and re-read the first four paragraphs. What did the young lady (who was raising awareness to end sexual assault) do wrong. I’ll help get you started… no one would have heard her scream.