Imagine that you're leaving work late and, like you do every night, walk towards your car. You're looking for your keys, and you're lost in your thoughts, thinking about your going to make for supper tonight. Suddenly, out of nowhere, someone grabs you from behind and tries to drag you out of sight. Scary right? Unfortunately, that's a situation that dozens of women experience every day.
In this article, I will cover the following:
Did you know that most dangerous situations could be avoided by learning a few basic safety tips? I have filled this prevention guide with what I consider the best safety tips for women. Study it, learn from it, and you will definitely be more aware and prepared the next time you'll leave home.
Whether you know martial arts or not, these safety tips can potentionally save your life or the life of someone you know.
Being mindful means that you are present in the moment and fully aware of your surroundings. Why is there a man leaning against a wall or peeking out from a recessed doorway? Why is there an adult man hanging around a children's playground if he doesn't have a child? Why did those three guys split up but keep walking toward me? Mindfulness will make a difference in your ability to anticipate and react rationally and adequately if a threatening situation should occur. Be fully present, and avoid distractions such as texting or browsing or wearing headphones while walking. You'll have plenty of time later to check Facebook or Instagram. Don't become paranoid, but always scan and have an eye on the people who are around you.
Predators target prey who's distracted and unaware, so avoid talking on a cell phone, listening to music with your ear-pods (or worst headphones) or texting while walking or waiting for the bus for example. Having your eyes fixed on your smartphone won't help you to be aware of what's going on around you. That being said, keep your phone at hand you might need it to call for assistance.
In general, predators choose victims that they think they can successfully attack. Trust me, when it's time to pick a victim, these guys can smell insecurity and fear from a kilometer away. While you can't change your age, height, and gender, there are some things you can do to make yourself a higher risk target. One of the best ways to prevent an attack is to make sure you project an image of strength and confidence. I'm talking about developing self-confidence and not projecting an image of weakness.
Some countries, cities, and areas are known for having high levels of crime. Even in generally safe regions, there are locations where high levels of crime regularly occur. Avoid those places. If for one reason or another, you have to go to those places, try not to walk alone, especially after dark. Walk in crowded, well-lit areas and always know where you are going. You can plan in advance by using Google Map on your smartphone to find the exact location of where you are going and the safest path to get there. It's worth mentioning that violence often takes place where groups of young males hang out, mainly where they're drinking. If you avoid bars, parties, and other such locations, the chance you'll even see such violence is significantly reduced.
If someone you don't know is approaching you asking you for directions or any other reason, maintain a safe distance between you and that person. This distance management will allow you to hit and run if the situation escalates. If a person is coming too close, you can clearly express your discomfort while moving away (ideally on the side, not backward) from the threat. When you manage the distance, you manage the potential damage.
My goal here is not to scare you, but you must prepare yourself for potential attacks, by carrying a self-defense tool. There are many interesting tools at your disposal like a telescopic baton , pepper spray , or a mini stun gun that can help you to cause injury and deter an assailant. But remember, a weapon is only a tool, and it won't do any good if you are not ready or capable of using it.
Parked cars provide hiding spots for a stealthy predator to close in on you unless you're especially aware of your surroundings and choose your parking spot wisely. Park your car in well-lit areas, and avoid parking between or next to tall trucks (often used to kidnap women). When walking to and from your parked car, be vigilant and aware and look if there is something suspicious. A tactical flashlight is a great tool to have if you often use your car at night. The flashlight can not only light up the way, but also it's light is so powerful (MUCH more that a normal flashlight) that it can momentarily blind an aggressor. I've bought this one to my wife. Have your keys out and ready, and before getting into your car, look around and inside of it. If there is someone that looks suspicious around your car, maybe it would be wise to go back safely where you came from. Once you get in your vehicle, don't linger, lock your doors as quickly as you can, and drive away.
While driving alone, never pull over if someone points at your car alleging that there is something wrong with it. If this happens, safely drive to the closest gas station (ideally populated and well-lit) and look the car over yourself or ask an attendant. If you are being followed, stay in your vehicle and call 911. Many women have fallen for this, so don't. Also, if you see someone (even if it's a woman) on the side of the road asking for help, don't stop, it might be a trap. It's quite common for predators to use a woman pretending to have a car problem to attract victims. The best thing to do it to call 911 to request help for the woman in need, you're not a mechanic anyway. That might look selfish, but in this world, you never know.
The moment you get into a building, have the reflex to quickly scan the room and identify exit points, as well as the quickest road to get to them. Don't become paranoid, but memorize where you can go in case things get sour. Locating exit points can potentially save your life not only in terms of self-defense but also if there's an emergency like a fire or an earthquake.
Train yourself to quickly locate potential weapons that could be used for self-defense if necessary. By "weapon" I mean objects that can be used to hurt, knock, or create distance between you and a potential threat. Things like chairs, small tables, fire extinguishers, trash bins, mops, treys or even hot coffees, can become a weapon in case of need. Right now, you see those objects as what they are but train your mind to see them as weapons. You'll be surprised to realize how many there are!
There's an increasing number of wearables and gadgets that make it easy to call for help and to track where you are. One category of GPS trackers is wearables, which are devices meant to be worn, and are quite small. Some trackers are as small as a watch, wristband or necklace. Some personal GPS trackers even have a button that can broadcast a request for help along with their position, usually via the cellular networks. Although it will not give you protection from an assault, the personal GPS tracker can give you the ability to report to your position to your friends and family members at the touch of a key. It's also possible to get a GPS tracker for your car.
From now on, when thinking about doors, think about "locking doors"! Take the habit of locking a door as soon as you use them. When you get into your car, don't put the belt on, don't opening the radio, but lock the doors! It goes without saying that you should keep your car's door locked while driving you, don't wanna get somebody with a gun or a knife jumping in the car at a traffic light, do you? Consequently, as soon as you get home, lock your apartment or house's doors immediately. Better be safe than sorry. Every night before going to be, I go around the house making sure that every door is locked and every window is closed correctly.
Let's make something clear: when someone rings the bell or knock at your door, you don't always have to answer! A common trick used by criminals knocking on doors – either to determine if anyone is home or to gain access, so if they know you are home, they will most probably leave right away. However, make it clear that you are home by speaking through the door. A good strategy that can discourage potential criminals is to pretend that your husband is in the shower. If the person at the door looked suspicious or even dangerous, call 911 and ask for immediate assistance. Remember, not everyone knocking at that door is someone with good intentions.
Avoid arguments, conflicts, and provoking people. When people are arguing, the escalating verbal tension increases the probability of violence. Some individuals can quickly go from arguing and yelling to bullying and physical violence. Don't be provocative, forget your need for being right. Diffuse the situation by first calming yourself (a few deep breaths will do the trick), use a low, dull tone of voice and don't get defensive, instead show empathy, and agree with the bullying person. Quickly and subtly scan the room for exit points and potential improvised weapons, and find a strategy to leave the room or the place where the situation is escalating. Pretend to answer your phone, and say you'll be back in a minute, for instance. The key is to leave the place where the situation is taking place.
Just because a stranger may look innocent and clean-cut, doesn't mean you should trust them. If you look at mug shots of attackers and sex offenders, you'll notice that the vast majority of them don't look like monsters, in fact, they often look like they could be your neighbor. Always remember that appearances can be deceiving.
Hey, I'm Canadian, so I'm not talking about guns here. I'm talking about non-lethal weapons that are intended to be less likely to kill a living target. Your goal is not to kill your potential aggressor, but to survive. Things like stun guns , tactical flashlights , and pepper spray are quite good. Worst case, a good old baseball bat can be really effective. Put your weapon in an easily accessible location in the house. If you have two stories, have one ready on each floor.
I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but if you aren’t in good physical shape, you could have difficulty defending yourself. Put all the chances on your side, exercise daily, eat right, avoid drugs, and abstain from excessive alcohol use, and try to get adequate amounts of sleep every night. The fitter you are, the highest you chances of survival are.
Martial arts will, without a shadow of a doubt, give you the skills, techniques, and inner control to defend yourself if you are one day confronted to an aggressor. It doesn't matter which martial art you study, as long as it's practical and realistic. Martial arts will not only teach you actual techniques to defend yourself, but it will also give you tips, strategies, and knowledge about protecting yourself, which allows you to anticipate and avoid potential threats. The main goal of self-defense is not to "win" a confrontation, but to let you get away without getting hurt too seriously. It is better to have a little knowledge about self-defense than to have none at all.
Let me show you 10 practical Karate moves for self-defense that can potentially save your life one day.
Your safety is your responsibility. Unfortunately, we live in a world where violence, especially violence against women, is omnipresent.
Every year in the US, an average of 500,000 women are victims of nonfatal criminal acts (rape/sexual assault, robbery or aggravated or simple assault) and on average, 85,000 are murdered.
The bad news is, violence against women has been on the rise for the last four years. Please, take martial art classes, get a self-defense tool, and reread this article as it might one day save your life.
I would also suggest you get a copy of The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence , a #1 National Bestseller by Gavin de Becker.
What do you do to stay safe?
Hi, my name is Martin Jutras. I've been studying and practicing Karate, practical self-defense and Zen Buddhism for more than 35 years.
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