The tragic death of Ashling Murphy has led the entire country into a state of grief. The twenty-three-year-olds murder has affected the nation, particularly resonating with women. Echoes of “she was just going for a run” and “she could have been any one of us” have prompted a call to end domestic, sexual and gender-based violence, an issue that has seen a significant surge recently. In this article, I discuss basic safety measures to practice when on a date. While it is wrong that women have to take such precautions when simply going about their day, these measures can prevent dangerous situations and help to alleviate fears.
When going on a date, it is recommended that you tell somebody where you are going, who you are with and when you expect to be back. During the date, you should check up with this person, update them if your plans change and let them know when the date is over. The safest location for a date is somewhere public, such as a restaurant or bar. Another important step to ensure your safety is to set up a location-sharing app on your phone. The ‘Find My’ app is available for iPhones. This software enables you to share your location with select family members and friends. You can set up the app to notify someone when you leave a certain location or when you arrive home. For android phones, Google Maps can be used to share your location. This feature works best if both parties have a Google account as they can access the app easily on their phone to see your location.
Watch Your Drink
It is important to know your limits when drinking alcohol. On a date, avoid drinking too much and losing control to prevent dangerous situations from arising. However, it is imperative to remember you are never to blame for someone else’s violent or inappropriate behaviour, regardless of how much you had to drink. It is crucial to remain aware of your drink and to never leave it unattended. This prevents your date or someone else from spiking your drink with drugs. Hundreds of date rape cases have been identified in Ireland and the UK in recent months, a notable increase from previous years, resulting in an increased feeling of fear among women. If you believe that you have been drugged, tell a member of staff immediately and if possible keep the drink that you suspect was tampered with. You should also contact the emergency services and alert the Gardaí.
Ask For Angela
If you find yourself uncomfortable on a date it can be difficult to figure a way out. ‘Ask for Angela’ is a nationwide campaign that was put in place to assist anyone who feels uneasy in a bar or restaurant. If you ‘Ask for Angela’ or order an ‘angel shot’ at the bar, the staff are alerted of your situation and can proceed to help you. A member of staff will take you to an area of the venue away from danger, offer to call a taxi or assist in contacting a friend or family member to take you home, in some cases the potential threat will be asked to leave and if necessary the Gardaí will be called. In any case, you should always have a ‘gotta go’ excuse or plan ready. It is a good idea to create a code word that you can text your friend or family member alerting them to collect you from an uncomfortable situation.
Emergency SOS is a safety feature available on the iPhone. While being cautious and taking measures to prevent violent and dangerous situations do help, the nature of these awful crimes are often unpredictable. If you find yourself in danger this phone setting allows you to call the emergency services and alert your emergency contacts by pressing and holding the power button and either volume button. This tool can be activated in the settings app. Some android phones have similar settings but they differ a lot between models. For example, Samsung Galaxy phones have an SOS message feature. When the lock button is pressed five times your emergency contacts are alerted. Once again, this can be enabled in settings.
While something as normal as going on a date should be a fun experience, recent events have brought women’s worst fears to the forefront. It is important that we, as women, continue to look out for ourselves and one another. I hope that one day we can live in a society where these fears no longer occupy our minds every time we walk home, sit in a bar or go for a run. Ashling Murphy’s legacy will live on in the heart of all Irish women as we fight for a just and safe world.