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How to Stay Safe While Alone or Meeting Someone for a Date
Women all around the world face safety issues every day. From simple scams, to petty theft, to domestic violence, human trafficking, rape, and murder, these dangers do not discriminate - this is especially true of LGBTQ+ communities and minorities. This is why every individual should have the know-how and the tools necessary to stay safe and stay aware. Here are some tips to keep in mind that can be used if you ever feel uncomfortable, are being followed, or find yourself in a situation you wish to get out of.
General Advice for Staying Safe
There are certain behaviors you can adopt and ways to act to make sure you don’t become a victim in an uncomfortable or dangerous situations. Here is some advice to life by:
- Don’t be afraid to say “no”: “No” is a powerful word and a great one to use at the right time. Never be afraid to say no and don’t oblige anyone unless you want to. Never get into someone’s car, go off with someone, or help them with a favor if you don’t feel safe. Use excuses to your advantage - say that you have an appointment, your friend is waiting, that you’re busy - whatever it takes to disengage.
- Trust your gut instinct: If your gut is telling you that something or someone isn’t safe, that something is off or feels wrong, get out of the situation ASAP. You’re better off being safe than sorry later.
- Act confident: Confidence is key, so always act like you know exactly what you are doing and that you are unshaken in an otherwise uncomfortable situation. If you are lost, don’t act lost, and if you are scared, don’t act scared.
- Let people know where you are: It’s always a good idea to let people know where you are, where you are going, with whom, and when. Let your roommates, spouse, friends, or parents know when you are leaving your home or apartment and when you will be returning. This way, if you don’t return at the anticipated time, someone can start reaching out for a way to find you or contact you.
- Have an entry or exit: When you are going in and out of a building or into or out of your car, have your key ready. Always check for exits and escapes and observe everything and anyone around you.
- Don’t leave a trail: If you suspect that someone is following you, make sure to walk past or drive past your destination. This is true of your home, your work, and any area that you frequent often - even your car.
- Avoid intoxicated strangers: If you are in a space where you don’t have backup or feel outnumbered and happen to see someone who looks drunk or intoxicated, stay away and cross the street or leave.
- Find a public place: If you feel like you are being followed or harassed and feel unsafe, enter a public space like a Starbucks or a shopping mall and surround yourself with people.
- Don’t welcome strangers: When your doorbell rings, never open the door if you don’t know who it is. Don’t be afraid to be rude or to watch them leave. Make sure to communicate that you are not alone, even if you are - you can pretend to talk to someone in your home or be on the phone.
- Charge your devices: When you are going anywhere, make sure to charge your devices so that you have a way to contact people. Cell phones have been used to track disappeared victims and are always necessary in an emergency situation.
How to Stay Safe While Walking Alone
When you are walking alone and sense that you might be in a bad area, don’t wear your headphones. If you do wear headphones as you go for a walk, use low volume. When you are walking alone anywhere, don’t wear noise cancelling headphones.
Numerous people have gotten into trouble for being distracted with music either with strangers or in instances when they cross the street and don’t see a car coming - putting them at risk of being hit by a car. You should always assume that a driver does not see you and never cross the road without making eye contact and making sure they have stopped. If someone is in a rush or being rude, let them go ahead. It’s not worth stepping out in front of them.
When walking, always walk on a sidewalk or the designated trail and wear bright colors and appropriate equipment for the weather. If you are walking off of the sidewalk, walk so that you are facing traffic and cars are not approaching you from behind. If walking at night, light colors are better for visibility, and bright colors should be worn during the day.
Never walk with your head down, reading texts, and not paying attention to cars and people passing in the road. This is especially true if you are walking in areas at night where the lighting is not great. You may choose to take an Uber or taxi in such a scenario, and again, always share your location.
When walking in public, make sure to keep your purse or bags tight and put your valuables away. Walking around with a brand new cell phone is sure to draw attention from thieves. Even in public spaces, petty theft happens, although it’s better to be in a public area than to be walking alone around corners and in a deserted space. When you walk at night, consider carrying pepper spray, and at the very least, grab your car or house key and hold it in between your fingers to use as a sharp weapon. If you feel you are being followed, stop and call someone, and wait for the stranger to pass.
If you see someone else in trouble or a confrontation or fight happening, stay out of it. That is what security and law enforcement gets paid to do not you. It’s not worth getting in the middle of something and potentially getting injured or getting involved in a lawsuit.
How to Stay Safe When Going Out at Night
If you are in the mood to go out, it’s always best to go out with a group. If you do go out solo or in a smaller group and plan on splitting up, agree to contact each other when you make it home safely. It’s important to always have one sober friend in the group and a designated driver who is sober and can transport everyone home safely.
If you do drink, take an Uber (make sure the driver has high ratings) and share your location. Never hop into a car with someone who just met. It’s also important that you know your limits when it comes to going out, drinking, and partying. If you have a tendency to black out, get yourself in check and always go out with a good friend who has your back.
Never walk off down a back alley way for a smoke and stay in well lit spots. Keep your purse and ID in a discreet location or on you, and park in public areas. Make sure that you treat all staff (bartenders, hoppers, servers) in a friendly manner and be sure they see you, recognize you, and know who you are with in case something happens- then they are more likely to step in.
How to Stay Safe While Driving Alone
Driving alone is generally not scary, but it can be - depending on what happens on or off the road. There are a lot of drivers out there with tempers. According to Road Safety Facts, 1.25 million people die in car crashes each year, and in people ages 15 to 29, car accidents are the leading cause of death.
If you come across an angry driver, let them go and ignore their behavior. If someone is tailgating you, change lanes, and certainly don’t tailgate others - let others into your lane and don’t cut people off. You are better off checking your ego and letting theirs go than winding up injured, followed, harassed, or dead. Of course, never drive drunk (never leave a drink unattended), and don’t get in a car with someone who has been drinking. Avoid driving on holidays where people might be drinking heavily and abide by the speed limit.
Always make sure that your car is properly maintained - this means properly rotated tires, correct tire pressure, chains for the snow, and fog lights and good wipers for bad weather. It is best to always check the weather before heading out and to give people your itinerary and ETA in case you get stalled somewhere. A flat tire in a desolate area can be a great danger for single drivers, so make sure you know who to call or how to change a tire in case you find yourself alone. Also, never chance it on running out of gas. It’s better to have a full tank and fill more frequently than to push it and run out in a deserted area without cell phone reception.
Never roll down your window or pull over for an unmarked car or someone looking for roadside assistance. Sometimes these situations are traps - this is what roadside assistance is for and it’s not your job to help even if you want to. Use a call box or call the CHP but never get in a car with a stranger to get gas or be taken to the next town. If you suspect someone is following you, pull into a gas station or somewhere public and wait for them to leave.
Best Self-Defense Tools for Single Women
Self-defense is key for anyone on a solo mission but this is especially true for women. It’s always a good idea to carry self-defense weapons like paper spray or even a taser, depending on what your state and local laws allow. It’s also a good idea to work out regularly and weight train so that you are not only healthy, but fit and capable of fending off an attack.
Self-defense classes can be invaluable, so consider instructional classes like krav maga where you can use deadly force if needed. If you carry pepper spray, know how to use it, how to direct it, and how to discharge it. Make sure you don’t accidentally spray yourself in an emergency.
For tasers, practice operating the device and make sure you know how to use it safely; also make sure it is functioning. If your state allows you to carry a concealed weapon and you decided that this type of defence is the best option for you, following through with proper training, safety, and storage. Gun safety is essential, as gun violence and firearm theft are devastatingly common in the U.S.
You may want to consider other self-defense tools for your home like flood lights, alarm systems, blinding hand-held lights, and more. Air horns are cheap and extremely portable and great for solo nature walks or hikes; they can be used to ward off people, alert someone in an emergency situation, and to ward off wildlife. Most important of all, always stay aware of your surroundings
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2020 Brynn B Lewis
dashingscorpio from Chicago on September 17, 2020:
The bottom line is always observe your surroundings and use good commonsense when dealing with people.
Trust much like respect should be (earned) over time.
People who are naïve, gullible, or trusting are a conman's dream come true! You have to be on the alert for other people's motives.