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A student’s story: We all have a part in keeping others safe

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Feature

Assault and sexual violence can happen on any campus, at any party, anywhere.

This month’s feature was written by Gertrude Kennedy, a student at the University of Waikato. Her story reminds us that we all have a part to play in keeping people safe.

The new ‘Town Safety’?

Innocent and unsuspecting first years will tell you that O Week is the party of a lifetime. I remember my first O Week surprisingly well, the freedom, the revelry, the burning taste of tequila.

O Week was where I first experienced ‘town safety’; I learned to never stray from my group, to never leave my drink unattended, and to never wear high heels in case I needed to run.

I don’t doubt that many first years will have heard these messages and that many students live by them. What if, instead of telling others how to ‘be’ safe in town, we made it safe?

I remember being at a party (one of many). I was having a good time, but a friend of mine was so drunk she didn’t know what planet she was on. A guy I knew had his arm around her/was holding her upright, and he was being a little pushy.

So I went over and put my arm around her and asked if she wanted some air. The guy protested, so I said, “dude, she’s way too drunk, go find someone else.”

He did, and in a very classy move, found our equally as drunk friend. So I stepped in again, and with the help of other revellers, I was able to help her and tell the guy that his behaviour was not OK.

The party went on. It was great. Everyone had a blast. Well, sort of. The guy ended his night lying in the middle of the road and crying. He was shouting that I had turned everyone against him, which made everyone laugh.

His friends told him that he should know better and that he got himself into the situation. It was his own fault that he was crying in the middle of the road, with his friends having to drag him onto the footpath.

At a party, your first priority is yourself. Because I felt safe, it wasn’t difficult for me to make sure that my friends were safe. Because other people stepped in too, it made it even easier.

If you see someone super intoxicated, check if they’re OK. If you see a guy being pushy, tell him that he might want to back off.

If it’s not safe to do it on your own, ask your friends to help out too. If we all look out for each other, everyone is safer, and we still get to have a good time.

One in four women will experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime, and the risk of sexual violence is high for women in their teens and 20’s. This means that a lot of students, their friends and classmates, are at risk.

We thank Gertrude for sharing her amazing story.

Play your part

Gertrude’s story is a great example of how we can all work together to keep our friends and ourselves safe.

Check out this great video clip – it shows the story of four people who come together to ensure a safe and effective intervention.

Our friends at Sexnrespect have some great tips for stepping up and speaking out

  • Check out if it’s safe for you to act 
  • Get others involved whenever you can 
  • Get help if you need it at any time 
  • Do not use violence 
  • Be gentle. Approach people in a friendly way 
  • Be clear and honest whenever you can 
  • Avoid being aggro or doing anything that will make the situation worse 
  • Keep checking that you are safe

Read more on ways to step up and speak out

Are You That Some1?

For more information on how keep others safe, check out AreYouThatSome1:

Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.

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