Prepare yourself for an attack! Imagine the following things are happening: You’re focused almost entirely on whatever you’re doing, and not on your surroundings.
You’re not holding onto your cell phone with any level of strength – Rather, you’re just resting it on your hands, just waiting for someone to grab it and run off the train at the next open stop.
This isn’t limited to transportation. Using your phone while walking down the street is just as bad – It’s so easy for someone going the other way to focus on your device, grab it, and be in a running start while you’re still like “What the hell just happened?” The thief is already ten feet away and running by the time you turn around and even realize what’s going on. Good luck catching up and getting your phone back.
In the end, I know we’re not going to stop using our phones in public places. That would defeat the entire purpose of the device. What we can do, though, is at least be more aware of our surroundings when we do it. Can we look up for a second after every level and just assess our situation? That’s not that hard to do. Prepare yourself for an attack!
Have your keys in your hands
Whether going to your car, work or apartment, have your keys in your hand before you approach the door. This allows you quicker access through the door and avoids the major distraction of fumbling for keys as you reach the door.
An attack is most likely to occur when you stop at a door and try to find your keys. Your head will be down, and you will neither be looking around or listen for unusual sounds (like steps coming your way). Attacking a victim at this time also has the advantage of gaining access to whatever you were about to enter. Also, being hit with a large set of keys can often discourage an attack and holding the keys between your fingers and punching someone with them can make them very unhappy and back off.
Small things we should all do, but rarely do
Wherever you are, a small powerful flashlight is one of the most important things you can have. Even with something as innocent as a power outage, think of all the places you’ll be on any given day that have no outside windows to let in light…hallways, stairs, elevators. A flashlight will always allow you to find your way to a safer place.
In that same vein, don’t fall into the movie plot setup of investigating noises in the dark…that is why you have a cell phone and know how to call 911 (or just walk away)
A whistle or other noisemaker is your friend. Attach a small whistle onto your keychain. There. Now it’s always there. Do NOT be afraid to use it to attract attention.
Instead of yelling “HELP” when something goes wrong, yell “FIRE!” people are more likely to respond to “FIRE!” than “HELP”
Have a buddy system
This doesn’t mean you always have to take a buddy when you go somewhere. It means letting someone know when you are doing something different or going someplace you haven’t been before… Also, when you plan to return. It doesn’t mean where to start looking for the body when you are kidnapped (although it does help), but it can be very useful if should you be stranded or injured in an area that doesn’t have cell coverage. You think it’s an exaggeration? Some very logical examples that could easily happen to you or anyone.
You leave work late one night, and get stuck in the elevator, long after everyone else has gone home.
You fall asleep on the subway and wake up lost.
You get in a car wreck and skid off the road, down a 200-foot hill into a ravine, hidden from sight of the road.
You get sick. Your appendix bursts. You hit your head. You name it.
Do you know the people in your neighborhood? Can you call for them if you’re running away from trouble?
Don’t look like a Victim
Victims of violent crimes like a mugging or robbery call attention to themselves by either being oblivious to their surroundings (defenseless) or by looking helpless (unable to defend themselves).
Walk down a street with your head up and looking around. Don’t hug either side of the sidewalk…especially not the inside where you have to pass close to doorways. For God’s sake, don’t text and walk at the same time. You’re screaming out “ROB ME!” loud and clear.
Don’t stare (it can be taken as a challenge) but don’t be afraid to look at people (it isn’t an elevator). You can nod or smile if you’d like but beware of offering an unintended invitation.
At the end of the day, personal security and situational awareness comes down to not being clueless
Don’t be clueless
Yes, it is a wonderful new world out there to explore. But try to pay attention to the unusual when out walking.
Has that person been behind you for a while? Prepare yourself for an attack!
Do they stop when you stop and continue when you do? Prepare yourself for an attack!
Do they look away when you turn to look at them? Prepare yourself for an attack!
If someone is following you and you go into a public place, like a coffee shop or an eatery, and have a seat…and if they stop too, then prepare yourself for an attack!
The worst thing to do is continue on your way if it takes you to a less traveled area…if you can’t stop; take a longer but busier route. If you do take shortcuts, then prepare yourself for an attack!
Safety Advice – What to do If you’re attacked
It’s an unfortunate reality that people get attacked. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, how should you act?
Attacks can sometimes be avoided altogether. Preventing an attack is about how you present yourself. Here are some tips to prevent an attack:
Make yourself a hard target. Part of preventing an attack is to present yourself as being confident and secure. Don’t make yourself look vulnerable by being distracted by your phone or listening to music. Instead, walk confidently looking ahead and make eye contact to show you can take care of yourself.
Don’t be afraid to say no. If a stranger is asking for help with something and you get a bad feeling from them, then politely tell them you can’t help right now and keep moving.
Common sense. Don’t give attackers easy opportunity. Use your common sense to keep yourself safe. For instance, don’t walk home if you’re drunk, don’t walk in public places alone at night and don’t make your house easily accessible by leaving windows open at night.
Be vigilant. Attackers tend to be lurking around car parks, between cars, stairwells and alleys. Being extra cautious when in these areas and avoid being busy searching for car keys. Have your keys ready beforehand.
Basic Safety Tips
It’s important to remember that not every attack is the same and they do not all have the same motive. With this in mind, here are a few basic safety tips to help to protect yourself if you are attacked.
Remain Calm. Fear can cloud your judgement. Try and remain calm to stay focused on the situation.
What’s the motive? Your defense will depend on the motive of the attacker. Do they want money? Are they trying to take your belongings? Are they trying to cause harm?
Assess the situation. Are they carrying a weapon? Is there anyone around that could possibly be alerted providing it is safe to do so?
Don’t try to protect your belongings. Your safety is more important than the belongings that can be replaced. If the attacker is after money, throw your purse/wallet towards them and run in the opposite direction.
Fight back if you have to. If the attacker is trying to cause you harm and you are unable to escape or get help, then self-defense could be your best option.
Use reasonable force. There is no definition as to what constitutes as reasonable force. This is decided on a case-by-case situation. But if you are being physically attacked, you have the right to defend yourself. Do what is necessary and get out of there!