Three quarters of young people have witnessed sexual harassment while out drinking

Date Published

15th November 2017




Almost three quarters (72%) of 18-24 year old men and women who drink in bars, clubs or pubs surveyed said that they had seen sexual harassment* on a night out.

79% of women said they expected inappropriate comments, touching and behaviour to take place when they went out – either to themselves or to their female friends.

Worryingly, nearly two thirds (63%) of women and a quarter of men (26%) said that they had been on the receiving end of some form of sexual harassment themselves.

On the back of these findings, Drinkaware is campaigning to put an end to unwanted drunken sexual harassment and its normalisation.

The alcohol education charity aims to encourage witnesses to challenge the status quo by giving them information and advice on what to do if they see or suspect that someone is being harassed.

The three elements of the advice are:

  1. Spot it - Is something dodgy happening?
  2. Check it - Is it safe to step in?
  3. Speak out - If it's safe to do so, check in with the person being targeted: Are they OK? If not, try staff or security.

Lucy Harrison, from North London, has witnessed drunken sexual harassment many times on a night out and earlier this year stepped in to look after her friend.

Lucy said: “We were at a club we’d been to before but this time the atmosphere seemed different. There was one particular guy who wouldn’t leave my friend alone.

“After she ignored him and made it clear that she wasn’t interested he grabbed her bottom. She told him to go away, but he kept coming back. It’s like he saw it as a challenge. When his mates got involved – I stepped in too.

“It seemed safer to talk to his mates as I wasn’t sure how he would react. His mates defended his behaviour and said he was just very drunk – but I told them that’s not an excuse – if you wouldn’t do it sober, you shouldn’t do it drunk!

“Even after they’d all left, I felt like I needed to keep looking out for this guy in case he tried to grope or harass my friend again. It completely ruined our night.”

Lucy and her friend cut the night short and haven’t been back to the club where it happened.

Lucy continued:

“I would have stepped in to help anyone who was on the receiving end of unwanted attention but not everyone who sees it, feels confident enough to get involved.

“Unfortunately this kind of thing happens a lot in clubs. I’ve had nights out where guys have been dancing right up against me or touching me in ways that I don’t want. When this has happened I’ve either left early or asked a friend to stand between me and the person who’s behaving inappropriately.

“It’s great that Drinkaware are taking this issue on and sharing what people can do if they witness drunken sexual harassment – it really can make all the difference.

“I’ve only developed the confidence to step in for others recently. I wish I’d had this advice when I was younger. It would have been a lot of help!

Janet MacKechnie, Campaign Lead for Drinkaware, said:

“For far too many people, drunken sexual harassment is now sadly part and parcel of a night out.

“Being drunk is no excuse to grab, grope or make inappropriate comments to strangers on a night out after a few drinks.

“If people see someone being sexually harassed, asking them if they are ok can make a big difference - whether they’re a friend or a stranger.

“It can be difficult to know exactly what to do which is why Drinkaware are giving young people this information and advice in the hope that next time they feel more confident to offer support to someone.

“It’s time to put an end to unwanted drunken sexual harassment. Asking someone if they are OK and giving them support sends a clear signal that this behaviour is no longer going to be tolerated.”