How to Support a Friend: Partying Safely

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Why think about safety during a party?

At least 50% of sexual assaults involve alcohol or drugs. 90% of rape survivors were assaulted by someone they knew. If your friends are avid partiers, then you may know that partying, drinking, and/or using drugs can be risky. Besides the dangers of alcohol poisoning and driving under the influence, alcohol and drugs can increase a person’s risk of being sexually assaulted. Keep in mind that while risk management can minimize danger, intoxication is not a substitute for consent nor does it give anyone permission to harm you. Here are some tips on how to help a friend enjoy parties while staying safe.

How can I help?


• Work with your friend to plan what you can say or do in an uncomfortable or even threatening situation.

• Use the buddy system: Go to the party with friends and leave together.

• Take turns being the designated driver and always designate a friend who will stay sober to look out for others.

• Encourage your friend to decide on sexual consent beforehand and help them brainstorm how to communicate it to others. Offer to help practice too.

• Establish a signal or code word to ask each other for help getting out of an awkward situation.

• Work with your friend to be aware of personal safety; learn about risks and safety strategies and take a self-defense class on campus.


• Be aware of how alcohol and drugs affect your friend. Are they tired? Hungry? Is it late? Taking prescriptions? These factors significantly increase the effect of ONE drink.

• Remind your friend to keep track of their drink and who has handled it.

• Watch the bartender prepare drinks for you and your friends.

• Hold your friend’s drink for them while they’re in the bathroom, and remind them not to leave their drink unattended.

• Avoid punch and other open drinks.


• Encourage your friend to set limits with alcohol and stick to them.

• If your friend is considering sexual activity, advise them to carry safe sex supplies, such as condoms and dental dams.

• Remind them to communicate their sexual boundaries clearly to their partner(s) using those strategies you rehearsed together.


• Trust your instincts.

• Look out for your friend, and step in if they look uncomfortable, even if you’re unsure.

• Don’t be afraid to interrupt or make a scene.

• Be aware of the environment and potential dangers, such as someone trying to get them alone or someone handling their drink.


• Leave together with your designated driver.

• Talk about the party: Are there parts that that your friend doesn’t remember?

• Encourage them to take an honest look at their drinking behavior and to learn healthy behaviors and attitudes.


• If your friend begins to feel disoriented or more intoxicated than their alcohol intake allows for, leave immediately for somewhere safe.

• If your friend becomes unconscious or has trouble breathing, get medical attention immediately. Do not let them “sleep it off.


Campus Violence Prevention Program (530) 752-3299 |

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) (530) 752-0871 |

Health Education & Promotion Program (530) 752-9652 |

The House Peer Counseling (530) 752-2790 |

Student Health Services (530) 752-2300 |

Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Intersex Asexual Resource Center (530) 752-2452 |

• Cross Cultural Center (530) 752-4287 |

Women’s Resources and Research Center (530) 752-3372 |

• For residence halls, you can contact your RA or RD

Books from the Women's Resources and Research Center Library

• Alcohol And Women: Creating A Safer Lifestyle (Gilson) 2000

• Dating Violence: Young Women In Danger (Levy) 1991

• Learning Limits: College Women, Drugs, and Relationships (Williams) 1998

• May I Kiss You: A Candid Look at Dating, Communication, Respect & Sexual Assault Awareness (Domitrz) 2003

• Nice Girls Don’t Drink: Stories of Recovery (Hafner) 1992

If you’d like to read more about relationship abuse, visit the WRRC Library, where these books, and others, are available. You can also browse the library catalog online at


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