13 basic safety tips that every woman should know
- Always be aware
- Don’t jog or do outdoor exercise with a ponytail
- Don’t be distracted
- Don’t be afraid to be rude
- Find a decent weapon
- Empower yourself
- Use technology
- Don’t jog or do an outdoor activity with a ponytail.
- If you buy something new, hide the box in the garbage.
- Buddy system
- Always walk the furthest possible of the road
- Be double vigilant in parking lots
- Have a discreet code word/sentence with a loved one
It’s not easy being a woman for many reasons. One of them is to be painfully aware of our own security level. Another reason is the acute knowledge that every woman on the planet knows a couple of safety tips by heart.
We’re constantly bombarded by news of women assaulted while walking from work, to work, to their home, after the gym, after school — a myriad of situations and threats that mush together and make each story less significant because there are too many to keep track. It’s always a shame and unfair, and it does cross our minds that we can next; that we could be a victim. But it never crosses our minds how we would save ourselves from those situations.
Given the statistics behind this type of crime — according to U.N. Women, it is estimated that one in three women will experience some sort of assault committed by both intimate and non-intimate partners, and these women are more likely to endure mental conditions, like depression, and life-altering illnesses compared to people who didn’t suffer this kind of brutality -, I would say it’s crucial for a woman to know how to defend herself or at least have some knowledge of what to do in these situations and others safety tips. Intuition may take a long way and even save your life, but it won’t be enough by itself most of the time.
Always be aware
You can ask any women you know, and they will probably tell you a couple of stories where they felt harassed, even verbally, in danger, in a potentially dangerous situation, or generally uncomfortable with someone. It’s a perpetual issue in our society, with some countries with far worse statistics than others, directly correlated to their women’s rights and perspectives.
The point is that it’s a universal problem. However, I’ll be focusing on western reality in this article since it’s the one I experience more profoundly.
The question is:
Will I be able to defend myself if the time comes?
In that sense, one must be aware not only of their surroundings but also of this realization that violence can happen at any time, in every sphere, whether you’re at home, in a supposedly secure place, or on the street.
This doesn’t mean that everyone is a threat, but rather that anyone can be one. Hence, my personal fascination with safety tips and martial arts in general.
As a brown belt in karate Shitō-ryū and an enthusiastic practitioner of MMA, I have had the opportunity to learn several self-defense techniques, tips, and best practices to escape this type of circumstances. I have also attended several seminars and classes on self-defense during my amateur training and learned a thing or two about safety tips.
The goal here, I must stress, is always to avoid or escape as quickly as possible from fight-type situations, not engage in pseudo-fights on the street.
Always trust your gut
Fear is a natural phenomenon that occurs in all living creatures.
Have you read or seen a victim of any violent crime saying that they weren’t expecting it? That it came out of the blue? In most cases, the victim knows before it happens, whether it’s a recurrent domestic violence case or a random attack on the street.
They know because we’re biologically conditioned to sense fear, and it’s an association that we’re naturally predisposed to form. This is essentially the concept of biological preparedness, i.e., the theory that living beings are inherently leaned to construct associations between certain stimuli and physical responses.
Think about one time that you ate something and got sick and, ergo ipso facto columbo oreo, you became ill because of that particular food. We (and animals) tend to form associations between taste and illness due to evolution of survival mechanisms, as Kathleen C. Chambers theorized in her paper about conditioned taste aversions.
If a species avoids a particular food after getting sick, it will increase the chances of survival and reproduction in the future.
The same logic applies to the most common phobias of humankind, like heights, poisonous animals, the ocean, or excessive velocity. What do they have in common? They can be deadly, and thus, humans avoid them because they pose a potential threat to our survival, existence, and integrity.
The same biological response is triggered in our society and daily lives. As much as we can hear or see a car coming toward us, we can perceive a potential threat from another human being by observing micro-behaviors and other tells. How can humans do this? It’s not the sixth sense, some third eye chakra nonsense that you can roll out at people, or a spidey sense. It’s learned behavior through experience, social constructs, echoes, and reverberations.
For more information about these micro-behaviors, I recommend the book The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence by Gavin de Becker. The author explains behaviors simply common and harmless that are, in fact, rather dangerous, like typecasting: when an aggressor insults a potential victim, who would otherwise ignore one, to engage in conversation to counteract said insult. “Oh, you’re too good to talk to me,” for example.
There are many unknown variables in violent situations. Most people have already experienced the sensation of fear when the amygdala senses danger and starts working. From there, your nervous system is alerted, and your body deploys a fear response: release of stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, the heart and blood pressure spike so that you are ready to start throwing punches or run, breathing becomes faster, perspiration starts, etc.
What you don’t cognize is your fear response: fight or flight? Freeze or fawn (when one tries to please whoever triggers this response to prevent them from hurting them)?
Since you don’t know how you are going to react because that decision is made in a split second, only in such circumstances, you can’t prepare. What you can do is learn as much as you can about safety tips and try your best to do so if the time comes.
Draw as much attention as possible to yourself
Many perpetrators are cowards, and even committing crimes involves some kind of messed-up spunk. Therefore, you can make that work for you.
If someone tries to grab you and take you to a car or any secondary location, the best to do is scream, bite, bark, spit, urinate yourself even. Since perpetrators will try to identify the weak member of some location, go loud and make a scene to make them realize that you won’t go quietly. Go nuts.
The goals are to draw attention so that the assailant simply gives up and avoid being taken to a secondary location.
A secondary location involves premeditation, and the odds of surviving are much slimmer. Do whatever it takes to not be taken to another place, where the assailant will be in control of everything.
Don’t be distracted
Aside from the common sense of avoiding considered dangerous areas and always walking in well-lit places, don’t distract yourself with your phone or compromise your hearing sense by listening to music on the street. Being observant of your surroundings can help you identify potential threats, pinpoint escape routes or places to hide, or identify people that may help you. Also, be aware of footsteps, rustling bushes, people arguing, cars that come too close, people that are always there, among others.
The common trick of talking with someone on the phone to avoid being disturbed won’t work with someone who intends to attack you. It will only make you distracted and an easier target.
This leads to another: always have a plan. Perceive your surrounding, who you are with, or how to get out safely.
Don’t be afraid to be rude
Your safety is more important than someone’s feelings. If someone is making you uncomfortable, it’s not something to be taken lightly, and there is usually a reason. Don’t be afraid to say out loud that someone is bothering you, to stay away, or even ask for help directly. Make a scene. Scream “fuck off.”
Find a decent weapon
Yeah, keys ain’t going to cut it. Car or house keys, whichever type, are a short weapon. That means that you need to make a close attack in order to provoke any kind of damage. Besides, you would need to aim for soft tissue, like the eyes, to have any kind of beneficial impact. In other words, it’s a difficult and often useless defense method.
In the same sense, a whistle can be useful to attract people and show that you’re too much trouble to kidnap or similar, but that’s not a weapon.
The best ones are the classics: pepper spray, taser guns, kubatons, and pocket knives. Don’t fall for the cute cat keychains and other trending products. A weapon doesn’t have to be pretty or pink; it doesn’t have to be bedazzled. It needs to cause pain.
In Portugal, most of these items are considered Class E weapons, and you need to ask for and justify a license to own them.
Don’t want the trouble? Deodorant works too. Aim for the eyes.
Arm yourself with knowledge. There are numerous self-defense classes, some solely dedicated to women. Try them out.
Check your local area for martial arts classes, like MMA, kickboxing, Krav Maga, etc. Learn how to throw a decent punch and stop with the open hand slap thing. It hurts, but it doesn’t do shit.
It’ll be filled with men, and sometimes a woman shows up and quits after two weeks (probably) but it’s completely worth it. It’s both an investment in your safety and health.
Other small and quick safety tips
- Use technology: let family or friends know where you are; install smart doorbells; use GPS.
- Don’t jog or do outdoor exercise with a ponytail. It’s easy to grab and yank.
- If you buy something new, hide the box in the garbage. Don’t expose that you just got an expensive television or similar.
- Buddy system: if possible, always have company going out or traveling.
- Always walk the furthest possible of the road in a walk to avoid being dragged into a car.
- Be double vigilant in parking lots.
- Have a discreet code word/sentence with a loved one.
Stay safe, ladies!
Originally published at https://angry.ventures.