Personal safety is important for anybody, but it’s especially important for women.
Unfortunately, women are much more likely to be assaulted or murdered than men. That’s not to say that men aren’t in danger too. It just means that women might need to take extra precautions when they are out and about to stay out of harm’s way.
See How You Can Stay Safe
Luckily, there are many steps you can take as a woman to stay safe and avoid potential danger.
1) Carry a Personal Safety Alarm
Personal safety alarms (also known as a rape alarm) or one of the best ways to maximise your safety as a woman. These electronic devices can hang around your neck. They are small enough to fit in your bag if you want to be more discrete, but keeping your alarm visible can act as a great deterrent for potential attackers.
If you get in danger, you can activate your alarm with just the press of a button. Once activated, you will be put into contact with a rapid response or emergency services that can dispatch a team of professionals to your location within minutes.
Women's rape alarms are especially important if you are walking alone down an unlit street. You are extremely vulnerable to predators if you are by yourself in a quiet area of town. Your alarm can give you some peace of mind and confidence knowing that help is nearby in case your find yourself in danger.
Please note that alarms won’t deter every attacker. You are still at risk of getting into danger even if you carry an attack alarm around with you. This is where following the remaining steps is also extremely important. In the UK, pepper spray is not legal so this is one of the best forms of defence for women.
2) Walk With a Friend
Even if you’re just making a quick trip to the nearby shop, or the walk home from work is only half a mile, you should always try to take a friend with you. It could be your partner, a family member, or one of your housemates. Anybody that will provide some company and protection for you.
Even if you are walking a route that you know and trust, there is always the potential for a dangerous person or group of people lurking somewhere on the way.
Regardless of how short your walk is, avoid going alone as much as possible - especially if you're walking at night. You are less of a target for attackers when you are in a group.
3) Take Self-Defence Lessons
Enrolling on a self-defence course might seem a little extreme, but it could save your life. In general, women are not as strong as men and this can make them more vulnerable to attacks.
There are several amazing self-defence courses that anybody can sign up for. These lessons will teach you the basic safety principles as well as key skills and techniques that can be used to fight off an attacker.
During self-defence classes, you will be taught about the different types of attacks that can occur to prepare you physically and mentally for these situations. There are different levels to these courses, but even the basic lessons will give you some vital self-defence tools.
4) Stay in Well Lit Areas
If you are walking alone, try to stick to open areas that are well lit. Avoid going down any dark alleyways and don’t go through the quiet park even if it’s a shortcut on the way home.
Stay on roads that have lots of street lamps or places that are filled with illuminated store letter signs. This way, you are able to stay vigilant and you can spot any suspicious people that might be creeping around in the shadows.
Attackers tend to strike in dark, quiet locations, so keep yourself safe and stay well away from these areas!
5) Remove Distractions
As a woman, when you are walking home alone, you must try to remove any distractions. This includes putting your mobile phone away in your bag. Don’t scroll through social media or reply to your texts as you walk. This can wait until you get gone.
You may think that speaking on the phone is one way to increase your safety. However, your phone can act as a distraction and makes it harder for you here what is going on around you.
Similarly, walking without headphones is important so that you can hear any rustling or shuffling of nearby threats.
Removing distractions means you can remain vigilant in the area around you. Keep your eyes up so you can spot potential problems before you end in the middle of them.
6) Trust Your Instincts
Your instincts are often right. If you are walking home and you get the feeling that somebody is watching you, trust your gut feeling.
Turn around, cross over to the other side of the road, seek safety in a nearby shop or cafe. If an employee greets you at the door, explain your situation and ask if you can stay in the building for a few minutes until you feel safe. Don’t be worried about what other people will think. Your safety is more important than other people’s judgment.
If there are no nearby businesses for you to seek refuge in, try to find other pedestrians that you can chat to. Again, explain your situation and ask them if you can stay close until you’re sure that the potential attacker has gone.
7) Use Confident Body Language
Attackers are more likely to target those who look weak and vulnerable. By changing your demeanour and using confident body language, you can significantly reduce your risk of being attacked.
This means walking with your head up, your chest lifted, and your eyes looking forward. Even if you don’t feel confident on the inside, act like you are! Predators will pick up on your confidence and are less likely to make a move.
If somebody is trying to speak to you or offer you a ride in their car, politely decline and continue walking. Don’t hesitate or show signs of weakness, as this might cause them to persist until you eventually agree to get in the car.
8) Stay in Busy Areas
Another way to stay safe as a woman in public is to stay in busy areas. Having others around you will reduce your vulnerability and will make it much harder for a potentially dangerous person to get hold of you.
If you live in a quieter area, take a taxi home instead of walking if you can. When booking a taxi, use a company that you know and trust.
9) Be Vocal
Make yourself heard if you think somebody is following you or if somebody is harassing you. Don’t be afraid to shout and make a scene. This will deter the potential attacker and make them feel extremely uncomfortable. Ideally, this will cause them to leave the area.
This is especially helpful if you are in a residential area or you are near to some local businesses. You can easily flag other people’s attention and build an audience of people that will cause the attacker to flee. Most of the time, the audience you acquire will contain at least one or two people that are willing to step in and scare the assailant away.
If anything does happen to you, there will be witnesses at the scene who may be able to identify the attacker and tell the police if any harm comes your way.
10) Keep Others Informed
If you are heading out somewhere on your own, make sure you inform your family and friends of where you’re going and what time you are likely to return home. This way, if anything happens to you, they can inform the police as quickly as possible. The quicker you get help when you are under attack, the better your chances are of escaping serious harm.
If somebody is following you or won’t leave you alone, inform those in the area. Head into nearby shops and tell the employees that there is a creepy stranger in the vicinity. This way, they can stay on the lookout and raise the alarm to the police if necessary.
Once you are safe, consider filing a report at the police station. Even if the attacker did not succeed in committing a criminal offence against you, they could still be charged for harassment or assault. Inform the police of everything that happened and try to give them as much detail as you can about the appearance of the assailant. This maximises the chances of this person being identified and brought into police custody.
Don’t be afraid that the attacker will know you have snitched on them. You can choose to remain completely anonymous when you file a police report. And by doing so, you are helping to keep yourself and others out of future danger.
Personal safety is extremely important. It only takes one attacker to spot an opportunity and make their move, and there is always potential danger out there.
Therefore, it’s vital that you take every necessary step to stay safe when you are out and about on your own. The simple steps above could be the difference between life and death.