Personal safety for women – Common sense and avoidance of trouble

“Mother knifed in unprovoked attack outside home”
“Teenager mugged on train for mobile phone”

Do you really take enough care of yourself?

There is no doubt we would give our all to take care of our families and our loved ones. We also spend lots of time, money and effort to take care of our appearances. As women, we all want to look good for ourselves, husbands and partners.

Headlines like those above are all too common but few of us really think that the bad things that happen to others could happen to us. How often do we stop to think about the dangers and risks we are unknowingly exposed to on a daily basis? Ask yourself have you been in a shopping centre calling a friend on your mobile phone; or walking to work thinking about the report you have to present; or getting a taxi on your own after a great night out with the girls? Are you really aware of your surroundings in such situations? Would you know if you were being watched in a night club; or followed whilst walking down a quiet street? Probably not.

Remember that these are precisely the times when we should all be aware i.e. when (by being oblivious) we are most vulnerable to attack. It is a fact that very few of us take personal responsibility or use common sense in these situations. Distraction can be our own worst enemy as it numbs our senses which should be kept acute, particularly at times or environments in which the state of threat is high. Alcohol and or drugs of course will increase that vulnerability.

Increasingly, we are starting to hear of more unprovoked attacks on women. However, there are things that we can do to prevent such (usually avoidable) disasters from happening to us.

Generally, the way of surviving dangerous situations is to avoid them. The best practice is to use common sense e.g. do not go to places where (and when) trouble is more likely to lurk.

Unfortunately, sometimes commonsense and avoidance will not be enough. However, the ‘tips’ below will focus on avoidance, rather than fighting back.

General tips

When you are outside of your home or office, always be conscious of your surroundings. Look out for suspicious behavior e.g. people who appear to be observing (too intently) passers-by. Trust your intuition.

  1. If you feel something is wrong, change your route and prepare to run.
  2. Do not wear conspicuous jewelry when you are on the streets on your own.
  3. Dress – plan for your return journey. A mini skirt and stilettos may be fine for the nightclub but bringing flat shoes and a coat to cover up for the return journey will be a good idea.
  4. Check that your mobile phone has enough battery and credit.
  5. NEVER hitchhike - use buses or (licensed) taxis instead (see below).
    Adopt a confident posture and assertive mannerism. Do not act or look like you are nervous or an ‘easy target’.
  6. Most aggressors will back down if you maintain eye contact and do not appear intimidated by them.
  7. Safety in numbers is always a good idea.
  8. If you are waiting for transport, wait in a well lit area e.g. coffee shop.
  9. If you are on a bus don’t choose the window seat as you may be blocked in by a potential attacker. Choose the aisle seat for a quick exit. (Sit behind the driver for a quick exit.)
  10. Always choose the train/tube compartment with the most passengers in.
  11. Take a well referenced course in self defence. (But beware, there are many courses run by charlatans.)
  12. CRUCIALLY – do not take a risk if you are a bit tipsy. Travel with a friend (preferably not intoxicated) and remember of course not to leave your drinks exposed to being spiked.


Cars

  1. Approach your car with your keys at the ready.
  2. Look around before you approach your car. Always check inside your car – including the back seat - when   entering

  3. Lock your car before you even insert the key into the ignition.
  4. Keep windows up and doors locked when driving or stationary.
  5. Park in a well lit space.
  6. If someone is inside the car run for your life and scream as loud as you can.
  7. Never pull your car over even if someone pulls up alongside you and points at your tyres – this is such an old trick! Always continue driving. Try and find a well lit area (e.g. a service station or restaurant forecourt; in front of a police station or hotel) where there are people around before you stop.
  8. Always be alert in a car park especially if it’s dark. Try to get someone to escort you.
  9. If you break down (except on a motorway, lock the doors call your Emergency assistance company like AA, RAC and tell them you are alone so they prioritise your call. Input their phone number on your mobile.

Taxis

  1. Always use licensed taxis. Check the identification of the driver. He/she should have a license on the windscreen with his photograph.
  2. Where possible, order taxis so the driver can be traced.
  3. Never accept any food or drink offered by a driver. Remember the black cab driver in London who drugged his victims via the tempting champagne he offered.

Walking/Jogging

  1. If you have car trouble and you are walking to look for help always walk against the traffic.
  2. If you are followed by a car, turn and run the other way.
  3. NEVER wear headphones to listen to music – many joggers/walkers are successfully mugged because they are caught completely unaware.
  4. Regularly change your routine. (The more sophisticated criminals will often work out their target/intended victim’s pattern of behavior before they attack - utilizing their knowledge of this.)
  5. Mark out busy routes, shops or houses that you can run to as safe houses.
  6. Don’t assume that your area is safe or that it will continue to be so.

Build your own confidence

Take some time to find a good self defence class and practice for a few hours a week. It will increase your all round fitness making your body stronger and more able to jump into action when called for. Practical self defence training is also a great way of building mental and physical strength, stamina and confidence. It is also an enjoyable, social thing to do with like-minded individuals. Indeed, the experience of our students who, through such classes, ‘build bridges’ with fellow classmates is that by sharing and learning with one another, they get a great boost - especially when they see that the techniques actually do work.

Find yourself a good instructor with a common sense approach. 

The tips above provide some easy and effective ways of being aware and at the same time being more alert. But remember, anything you want to do well will need practice i.e. regular training both physically and mentally.

Remember: You are only being paranoid or too cautious if you are wrong. It is always far, far better – where personal safety is concerned – to be safe, rather than sorry!

Kay Hampson

Gym Membership

Our Lydney gym is a full time Muay Thai training camp. Our facilities are equipped for your training needs. We have the equipment to condition and develop speed, stamina and strength. We have hanging bags, wave masters, speed ball and lightweights plus a full size boxing ring.

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