“When I was sixteen, I went clubbing for the first time with some peers. It was all new to me back then. We noticed a young man who seemed to be drunk or stoned and making an exhibition of himself. I was dancing with my friends, when he suddenly came straight up to me. He let his gaze roam over my body, and then he stuck out his arms and grabbed my breasts with both hands. He grabbed them really firmly. I was completely taken aback and stood there frozen for a moment. I was extremely shy back then and didn’t have the confidence to defend myself. When my friends saw what was happening, they came straight over, pulled me away, and gave the man a piece of their mind. Fortunately security came over as well and evicted him. I found the whole situation extremely uncomfortable and I still feel queasy when I think back to that evening.”
Zero tolerance for harassment!
Sexual harassment can happen in all kinds of different places and take many different forms – it could be inappropriate looks, sexist gestures or suggestive remarks or even unwanted touching. Nobody has the right to harass you verbally or physically. You do not have to tolerate anything you do not want! Sexual assault violates a person’s mental and physical integrity and is a criminal offence.
If you have been assaulted, get in touch with a victim advice centre. They will help you understand your rights, the advantages and disadvantages of reporting the incident and what happens in the criminal process. Victim advice centres can help you deal with the incident and organise ongoing support.
When you’re on a night out and somebody is harassing you:
- You have the right to defend yourself however you can. For example, you can loudly establish your boundaries by shouting: “Stop that! Don't touch me!” You can defend yourself physically or leave the area.
- Try to get help from other people nearby.
- Make a note of the incident, including details such as the place and time and any features of the perpetrator’s appearance: height, size, hair colour, skin colour, how they were dressed, and anything else you noticed to give the police as detailed a description as possible.
- Never leave your drink unattended in a club as someone could slip a roofie or other drug into it.
- If you are harassed, report the incident to the bouncers at the door.
- If something does happen, seek help, for example from a victim advice centre. You will be offered free and confidential advice about your rights and options.
- If you are harassed, threatened or physically attacked, call the police on 117.
If you see someone being harassed while you’re on a night out:
- Don’t look away. Go to the aid of the victim, even if the harasser is someone you know, perhaps even a friend. Speak to the victim directly, offering help.
- Avoid putting yourself in danger by asking people around you to come with you to help the victim.
- Inform the bar staff or bouncers.
- If you see other people being harassed, threatened or physically attacked, call the police on 117.