I was always someone with this unnerving desire to be independent. Whether it was true or not, I didn’t allow myself to succumb to fear of evening excursions or being alone just because I was a woman. This may seem naïve to many people, and perhaps to a degree it is.
As I grow older, I recognize that while my desire to be strong, assertive and independent is valid, I should still take preemptive measures to protect myself. All women should.
In celebration of Women’s History Month, I do want to empower women to take control of their lives. This must include personal safety. We cannot ignore violence on women worldwide, and I have yet to meet a woman who has not expressed concern about her safety and well-being when being alone or venturing at night out with strangers.
Here are some tips, tricks and tools for you all to protect yourself.
Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that the tools listed below are not for everyone. You should stick with what you feel comfortable with. Do not feel pressured to supply yourself with tools and resources you don’t feel comfortable using or implementing.
To be “street smart”
- When there is a knock on the door, glance over at a window or peep hold before opening. Sounds like common sense, but the female lead in the films never do that.
- Never pull over if someone points at your vehicle, claiming there is an issue. This could be a subtle ploy to trick you into unguarding yourself in an isolated area. Wait to pull over to a well-lit and populated gas station before accessing the issue.
- If you have reason to believe someone is following you, make four right turns. Four right turns make a square, so it will be quite apparent someone is following you if they are mimicking your redundant driving path. DO NOT STOP THE CAR. Continue driving to the nearest police station, and maybe consider dialing 9-1-1 to report the incident and license plate as it’s happening.
- As the day grows dark, don’t be afraid to ask a nearby employee or coworker for an escort. If that’s not possible, stay vigilant as you approach your vehicle and check under your car before entering. Then, lock your car as soon as you enter it.
- Always pour your own beverages if possible. At a bar, watch the bartender make your drink, even if someone orders it for you. Remember, although unlikely, bartenders could also contribute to the chaos, so keep a watchful eye. Date rape drugs can be discreetly poured into drinks without a noticeable difference in taste or color. It can take only minutes to affect your person, leaving you confused, weak or unconscious. Never leave your drink unattended.
- Keep important documents and credit cards in encrypted coverings, such as a fireproof folder or a RFID protected wallet.
- Notify loved ones of your whereabouts when traveling alone. This can be done through apps or a simple text message.
- If being attacked, scream “Fire!” rather than “Rape!” Unfortunately, people are more inclined to react to a fire rather than a sexual assault. Always resist, physically retaliating against the attacker. Do everything you can to cause a commotion and remain at the crime scene. As soon as you are removed from the scene, things can escalate quickly with little to no trace.
- Consider learning some simple self-defense tips. It may seem intimidating but it surely doesn’t hurt to keep a few moves compartmentalized in the back of your head, just in case! When in doubt, target the most sensitive parts of the body; groin, neck, eyes.
We never know how we may react to an assault, so it’s best to be proactive in assuring our safety. Sometimes, we require additional equipment and tools to safeguard that security.
Let’s start with the least intimidating tools, and expand.
- If you live alone, or feel insecure about the safety of your living situation, consider the Heavy Duty Security Door Bar. Secure the top of the bar around the door handle from inside the apartment, obviously, and pull the elastomer down to secure the bar in place. This provides an added layer of security if you worry about someone busting down your door, or if you have a lofty lock system.
- I would hope many of you haven’t been traveling much during this pandemic, but when this all passes and we resume our normal lives, there may be travel. The Portable Door Lock Device is a variation of the door bar. It’s less bulky or evasive, and can be inserted and removed in seconds without damage. Insert the lock bar in the door striker, then shut the door. Slip the smaller silicone cover around the lock bar, sticking toward the inside of your apartment, obviously, and cover with the larger silicone cover. This works on most doors, and would require immense force to shut down the door. If anything, it will stall time if you need to escape an attack.
- The Atomic Tactical Pen is a cool, intricate tool for those of you who need to be more tactical but discreet. It is a functional pen, designed with a legitimate working ballpoint pen with a few hidden features. The exterior pointy edge of the pen is a glass breaker. If you unscrew the tip, there is a 2-in-1 device; hex key and bottle opener. Hex keys can be used to unscrew bolts and screws. The flatter edge on the opposite side is a flashlight with steam line and flashing settings.
Now, we know that acts of violence can be committed upon anyone regardless of your gender, however women are often considered easy targets. Very few things enrage me more than the entitlement of a catcaller. The worst part is that women are objectified for anything and everything. The world is far from perfect. Violence and assault may diminish in some regions of the world, but frankly, it will never truly desist. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 3 women have experienced sexual or physical assault at least once in their lifetime, and that number has remained relatively unchanged in the last decade. Indigenous women are ten times more likely to be murdered and sexually assaulted than any other ethnicity. Just this month, we have dealt with the kidnapping and murder of Sarah Everard by a police officer, and Australia is protesting the government’s handling of serious sexual assault allegations. According the UN, only 40% of women seek help after experiencing violence.
I also recognize that it should not be the responsibility of women to compensate for the threats against them. You didn’t ask to be assaulted. Hypothetically, we should just teach others to not assault other people. When others witness a heinous crime ensure, they should interfere and support the victim. Law enforcement shouldn’t insinuate that the victims were “asking for it”. We know that it’s not that easy. This is a cumbersome, onerous can of worms that requires a long term strategy; social influence, legislative reform and generational counsel. Until then, we have to call in reinforcements. Practice self awareness, and consider supplemental resources to remain proactive. Trust your gut. Has your gut ever steered you wrong?
In an effort to enact dynamic and progressive change, let’s get serious. I don’t have the answers here. I’m being honest. I, too, and a woman who has feared for my safety. I acknowledge the disadvantages I have for simply existing in this world independently because of the target that is my being as a woman. Women’s rights are Human rights. Whether it be virtually or directly, be an ally. Believe survivors. Start a conversation. Raise your voice with local, state and federal legislation. Press your representatives, who are public servants, to support and advocate for women. Rehabilitate the sexual education courses in high school with topics of consent, and perhaps include a mandatory self-defense course. Fund women’s organizations. . Hold others accountable for their bullsh*t.
Keep your foot on the gas pedal, ladies and gentlemen. Stay safe.