The world we live in is inhabited by many predators, some who prey on women; regardless of their age, females are targets, and must do all they can to be aware of their surroundings in order to be safe.  Women may be victims of domestic abuse – violence committed by a boyfriend or someone they know.  Some acts of aggression are drug or alcohol related.  Statistics show that many acts of crime against women go unreported. 

According to the National Crime Victims Rights Resource Guide, the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs and Office of Victims of Crimes, statistics from 2007 show that in the next hour, somewhere in the United States, the following will happen:

  • 900 thefts;
  • 189 violent crimes;
  • 124 assaults;
  • 66 robberies;
  • 24 sexual assaults;
  • 12 rapes; and
  • 2 murders.

Note: these numbers were from a 2007 report; without doubt, the totals have increased since that time.  Of course, not all these will result in crimes against women, but our focus for today is to help women understand how to live more safely.  One suggestion is to wear expensive jewelry on special occasions only, when you are not alone. 

In vehicles, remember:

  • Stepping out of the car either at home or in an isolated area can be a danger area.
  • Check your car before entering it.
  • Always be alert in parking lots, especially if it is dark.  If you are at a mall, don’t be shy about asking security to walk you to your car.
  • Never leave the car unlocked, even for a few minutes.
  • If someone pulls up beside you and points to a tire, don’t pull over.  Drive to a police station or busy place before you get out of your car.
  • Be sure your doors are locked and windows are up when you stop at an intersection.
  • If someone is pointing a knife or handgun at you from inside the car, don’t get into it, but run and scream.  More than likely, he will drive off, but if you enter the car, he has a better chance to harm you. 

If you take public transportation, remember:

  • Wait inside a coffee shop until the bus or train arrives.
  • Don’t sit by a window, in order to avoid someone sitting beside you and blocking your exit.
  • Choose train compartments carrying the most passengers or sit directly behind the driver.
  • Sit behind the bus driver or next to the door for a quick exit. 

At work:

  • Be thoughtful about the clothing you plan to wear.  You don’t want to get the wrong kind of attention.
  • Be friendly and polite, but be attentive for signs of “odd” behavior.  Do not flirt.
  • Be firm about unwanted attention.
  • Do not share personal information such as living alone, marital status, etc.
  • Trust your instincts. 

While walking or jogging:

  • If you are in an isolated area, don’t use your music headset; stay alert.
  • Change your routes on a regular basis.
  • Don’t be temped to use your cell phone while walking; don’t become distracted.
  • The “buddy system” is always best; don’t go alone.  There is safety in numbers.
  • If you feel as though someone in a car is following you, turn around and take another route.
  • If you walk/jog in your neighborhood, find houses that you feel you are welcome to use as a “safe house,” – one that you can find refuge in, owned by a friend or acquaintance.
  • Always have your cell phone with you. 

In social settings:

  • Do not drink excessive amounts of alcohol, or take drugs that can alter your personality and actions.
  • Stay with your group.
  • Do not leave with strangers.
  • Never leave any food or drink unattended where it could be tampered with. 

Keep in mind, that you need your cell phone with you at all times.  There are safety items that may be purchased to give you a little peace of mind, such as pepper spray, or a personal alarm, which is a small but loud device that will draw attention to an emergency situation.  The pepper spray causes pain to an attacker, and lasts about 20-30 minutes but causes no permanent damage.  In many states, it is unlawful to use something such as pepper spray or mace unless it is for self-defense. 

Many sexual acts are committed by people that the victims know, or thought they did.  An attack is usually preceded by a visual sign, which is often preceded by a verbal approach before the physical action.  Recognize the sequence: the look – the talk – the attack.  Most women think this can never happen to them, but it can occur anytime, anywhere, to all ages.  Recently, a 60-something year-old  lady was kidnapped and assaulted for days by a 58 year-old man.  He had been asking her out, but she was not interested.  After telling her family about the man, he took her hostage, burning her house and car.  Because she had mentioned the man to her family, law authorities found both of them in his home several miles away.  Because he tied her up, she was virtually helpless.  Now he is in jail, and hopefully, will be put away for a long time, where he cannot hurt or threaten anyone else.

Be aware of your surroundings at all times.  Stay in touch with family and friends so they know where you can be reached.  We just can’t be too careful!