Applicable Ways to Protect Your Friends

Alaysha Harden

In the recent Town Hall, some individuals who identified as men expressed concerns about applicable ways to intervene or protect women in potentially dangerous situations. Although it may seem simple to women to just do something, it may not be that clear to others. Therefore, I would like to present applicable solutions that will ease communication and clarity between you and your friends in need.

Create a code phrase or word.

During the Town Hall, it was made evident that it is not always clear on whether a woman wants to stay near the people she’s around or whether or not she is in danger. When someone is inebriated, it can be difficult to gauge whether they are thinking clearly and giving you a conscious answer. These situations can be confusing and unclear. Creating a code word or phrase beforehand can ease this stress. The phrase will represent your friend’s conscious decision to stay in a situation and for her to let you know at that moment she is okay. Additionally, create a phrase that you can use if you really feel like they are in a dangerous situation that they might not be aware of.

Make sure the code words are not too simple or easy. “I’m hungry” would be a weak phrase because people can say that sober or not. “I really want some Brussel sprouts”, “Chance the Rapper is so cute”, or even “I want to see the stars tonight” are simple phrases that will likely not occur naturally in conversation, but they are simple enough to randomly interject in a conversation. Therefore, if you approach your friend to check on them and they are able to say the phrase without difficulty, then you can ensure that they are aware. If your friend struggles to get the phrase correctly (“I want broccoli”, “Let's cook Brussel sprouts”) or if they cannot remember the phrase at all, then you have enough reason to find a way to remove them from the situation. In the event that they remember the phrase, but you feel uncomfortable leaving them in the situation, use your code phrase and get them to a safe place where you two can express your concerns.

Smoothly removing a friend from a potentially dangerous situation.

There are many deflection tactics that can be used to get your friends out of a situation without causing conflict between your friend and the person or people they need to distance themselves from. In situations like this, it’s okay to lie or exaggerate something to get your friend out. Mention something they like or another friend.

“Hey Alaysha I was coming over to check on you. You okay?”

*Friend does not respond with code phrase*

“Oh… That’s cool, but you have to come see what happened to Mark’s shoes” or “Nala feels sick and needs your help. Come on, she’s over here”.

If words do not work, you may need to invite more friends over to stand watch and keep trying to distract your friend away from the dangerous situation. Make sure that you do not physically grab and pull your friend unless it is absolutely necessary to protect them. This may be necessary if a guy is grabbing or pulling your friend. You want to avoid sudden physical contact because the person your friend is talking to may not understand that you’re protecting your friend or they may get defensive. The goal is to get your friend out of a situation and protect them without getting into a fight. I have seen confrontations break out where the woman who was in danger is pushed deeper into the crowd of people who are potentially dangerous because of the chaos.

Communicate with your friends.

It is essential to communicate with your friends. The world we live in today is not filled with love; it is dangerous. This does not mean that we should live in fear or that we cannot let loose and feel care-free. It means that we must not consider ourselves as untouchable. We cannot think that won’t happen to me or my friends. Mass shootings, terrorist attacks, hate crimes, and much more have happened in or close to Nashville and most likely some of our hometowns. Therefore, we know that sexual assaults or other crimes will happen. Prepare to protect your friends and have a plan for any of the situations listed before.

Be clear about what expectations you have from your friends. If you are unsure what your friend may need or expect from you, ask them. Avoid doing things that your friend did not ask for that may end up negatively affecting them.

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