(First of all, I’d like to make it clear that it is never a victim’s fault if they are attacked, assaulted, or killed. However, here are a few tips that can make everyone safer.)
As Halloween comes closer by the day, many of us enjoy the horrors of scary movies and stories. If you are anything like me, you are endlessly fascinated by true crime, serial killers, and murder mysteries. While these stories can be sensational, they are a good reminder of real danger that occurs every day- be it murder, assault, kidnapping, or burglary. No matter the situation, there are things everyone can do to keep themselves safer.
- Always be aware of your surroundings.
As we become comfortable in our routines, sometimes we forget to pay attention to what goes on around us. Out of fear of looking paranoid or making anyone uncomfortable, many people go through life with their heads down. However, making eye contact and simply looking alert discourages predators who are looking for easy targets. Additionally, you are more likely to notice suspicious behavior when you are paying attention- especially in parking lots/ garages and public spaces at night. Most importantly, stay off your phone! This will make you look distracted and, thus, like an easy target.
2. Be prepared.
If you do not already own pepper spray, it would be a good idea to obtain some. Typically, you can buy pepper spray for $10- $20, and its a useful, handheld self-defense weapon. Tasers are also incredibly useful and last a long time. Still be prepared to fight off attackers with your own body in case of attack because you may not always be able to get to your weapon fast enough.
3. Never comply.
When people are threatened or attacked, they sometimes do as they are told out of fear of making their attacker angry. However, this is the opposite of what you should do when threatened. If an attacker threatens you with a weapon to get into a vehicle, run away screaming. It is much harder to shoot a moving target, and attackers are unlikely to pursue someone who resists. If you are in a public place and are threatened, make as much noise as possible, and always fight back and never let an attacker take you somewhere. Predators do not want to be noticed, so be as noticeable as possible.
4. Always fight back.
Aim for the eyes and groin first. You are much more likely to survive an attack or escape if you fight back, so give your everything.
5. Do not answer the door for strangers who are not meant to be there.
Attackers sometimes dress up as repairmen or policemen to gain entry into your home. Do not answer for a repairman if you did not call for one. Remember, most people will leave politely when you do not answer the door. If they become angry or combative, that is a clear red flag. If a policeman comes to your door who you do not expect, you can call 911 and ask if an officer was sent to your home. If they were, you have quick confirmation and if they were not, you already have 911 on the line to send a real officer older.
6. Be aware of what is around and in your car.
Cars are easy to hide under, behind, and inside, so check your back seat and pay attention to what is around your car. Lock the doors every time you enter and exit your car. That way car jackers or kidnappers cannot jump into your car at an intersection or hide in your care when you are not around.
7. Trust your instincts.
If you feel like something is off, be careful. Ask someone to walk you to your car. Pour your drink out and get a new one. Ask to reschedule. Tell him you no longer need his help. Stop at a public place for a few minutes to see if you’re being followed. It is worth occasionally seeming suspicious or bitchy if it means you are safer.
8. Take care of others.
If you see a child that looks like they are being mistreated, speak up and intervene. If you see someone slip something into another person’s drink, tell that person. If your friend drinks too much at a party, take them home. Walk your friends to their cars. If someone is being followed, tell them. Pretend you know them and walk them somewhere safe. Attackers thrive in environments where everyone minds their own business. Step out of your comfort zone to keep people safe.