In June I had the opportunity to help at Bridging the Gap’s Single Mom’s Retreat. One of the breakout sessions featured a police officer talking to the women about how to protect themselves, and I thought it might be an interesting one to take in. I was hoping I’d learn a few karate moves like the ones I’ve seen the characters on NCIS use, but sadly there was none of that. I did, however, feel the information very useful and surprisingly easy, so I thought I’d share it with you.
How to protect yourself when you’re out and about:
- Walk with confidence/pay attention to your surroundings. Some offenders were taken from their prison cells to go with police officers and point out the people they’d be more likely to victimize. They pointed to the ones who were looking down, or looking at their phones, generally not paying attention to the people around them. Walk with confidence, head up, be aware of what’s going on around you. As for the confidence piece, if you don’t feel confident, I say fake it till you make it.
- Pre-plan your response to an attacker. Don’t fight for your purse. It’s not worth it. True, it’ll be a pain to cancel your credit cards, get a new driver’s license and phone, but it’s your life we’re talking about here. Let him steal your stuff, not your life! Another tip, assuming you have time to respond: Say something like “Don’t I know your mother?” If your attacker thinks you recognize him, he’s going to run. And really, no one wants to get their mother involved!
- Stay in a well-lit area. For instance, say you’re at a bus stop. Stay under the light. Don’t be lured away to a darker spot because it’s there that the attacker will grab you.
- Run. If someone grabs you, make every effort to run. What if they try to shoot you, you ask? Truth is, most people aren’t a very good aim. The likelihood of them killing you is very low. Your odds of dying increase substantially if they can get you into their car.
- Trust your gut “feelings.” If you get on an elevator and another person in there gives you the heebie jeebies, get off. Don’t worry about political correctness. If you’re on the elevator and someone else enters, you can easily make an excuse to get off by saying, “Oh, I think I forgot my purse.” or “Oh wait, this is the floor I wanted!” If you’re like me, that won’t even sound unusual, as I’m often surprised when arriving at the floor I need.
- Getting “bumped” in traffic. If you are driving on the freeway and another car bumps you, get off the freeway and try to stop in a public place like a gas station. I also suggest you call 911 from your car and tell them what’s happening and where you are heading. Remember to stay in well-lit areas. I was always taught that if you think someone is following you, the best course of action is to drive to the police station. This was before cell phones, but I still think it’s good advice.
How to protect yourself at home:
- Call your police department. – Ask to speak to a crime prevention specialist. Most every department has one. They will visit your home and give you ideas on things you can do to better protect your home.
- Look like a dog owner. Consider keeping a dog bowl and a chain that looks like it’s for a really big dog by your front door. On the dog bowl, write a dog’s name. Make it sound fierce – like Killer. He said at his house he has a big chewed on dog bone that is visible from the front door. He doesn’t own a dog. He moves the bone around every now and again in case someone is casing the joint. Now, if you’re prone to tripping on things, this might not be a good idea for you, but if you’ve managed to negotiate Legos without injury you should be fine.
- Be alert for peeping Toms. I don’t know how Tom got picked as the name for creepy people who peek in your windows. Kind of makes me feel bad for all the men in the world legitimately named Tom. Anyway, they’re out there, the peeping creepy guys I mean, and the advice is—first off, don’t undress in front of the window. Get some heavy-duty curtains or shades to cover your windows and then have someone you trust watch from outside your window at night to see if your silhouette can be seen from outside. To be on the safe side, undress in the dark or move to the bathroom. This is not to say it’s your fault if someone is looking in your windows when you’re in a compromising position. It’s just a good precaution to take. If you ever get a feeling that someone is lurking outside your home, don’t hesitate to call the police. Officers would rather get a hundred false alarm calls than have someone be afraid to call the police and really need them. Again, trust your gut and call. If nothing else, you’ll sleep better. He also said the police may not see the peeping Tom, but the peeping Tom WILL see the police.
- Stop ‘em at the door! – If you live in an apartment and can’t get deadbolts on your doors, there are door jammers you can buy, and apparently they’re quite effective. There are even lightweight door jammers than you can use for travel. It’s something to consider if you are frequently in a hotel room by yourself.
I hope you found this advice helpful. As for me, I’ve got to go buy a bowl for “Killer.” Be safe out there!