Self-Protection is a lifestyle...
Consider the following question:
What would your life look like if you took 10% more responsibility for your personal safety?
I will explain in a minute, but this is significant. When you actually think about the answers to this, seemingly simple question--you have already started the process of safer living.
First and foremost, the question itself implies that you are responsible for your own safety.
Second--and this is huge--the question implies that there is something you can actually do to be safer!
We learn basic safety protocol at an early age. "Don't talk to strangers" is one that stands out. We know it is not sensible to linger in a parking deck after dark, to hitchhike, to give rides to those we don't have reason to trust, to let strangers into our home...and...? What are some others?
There are degrees of risk in certain activities...some are extremely dangerous, others are just not great habits to have. I will summarize this post with some action steps--but my job is to get you actively engaged in healthy habits that reduce anxiety and lead to a safer lifestyle.
So--here are some bad habits:
Wearing two earbuds in public: You are "tuned out" to your surroundings. In your own world, you cannot hear traffic, inappropriate comments, someone calling out for help--or to warn you. Wearing two earbuds has become so commonplace, it is generally considered acceptable.
Leaving the door or windows unlocked: Know this: intruders rarely have to "break" in. They enter through unsecured doors and windows.
Walking or running after dark or before sunrise: For many reasons, predators love the cover of darkness. Not only that, so many people apply the practice of not working out after dark that the trails and streets quickly empty as dusk approaches. There is little reason to be afraid of the dark, but ignoring this safety tip, over the course of a lifetime, is not sensible.
Add your own thoughts to this list. What comes to mind? Acknowledging the risks we take is the first step in taking action.
In order to take 10% more responsibility, what could we do? Here are some suggestions:
Fix broken or unsecured windows or doors. Make this a priority. Especially first level entrances, and basement windows. Further, basement windows should be small enough that a person cannot slip through. A carpenter can install attractive "trim" and other physical barriers if necessary.
Take a pepper spray class, and keep it in your hand while exercising or walking alone.
Only wear one earbud. You cannot apply basic safety protocol if you are tuned out.
Learn to change your tire. Also, purchase, and learn to use "fix-a-flat."
Learn basic self-defense techniques. A good self-defense class will have multiple sessions, and will give basic suggestions regarding hand-to-hand combat.
Adopt a dog. Dogs, even small ones, are great protectors. They make their owners fairly hard to sneak up on.
Install exterior motion sensing lights. This suggestion alone can deter much unwanted attention and behavior.
Install a panic button app on your phone, and learn how it works. Become familiar with it. Use this app if you become confused, lost, or frightened for any reason. I use bSafe. I have spoken with the developer, and trust the app.
Keep track of your drinks at a party. Test kits are available, as well. These discreet strips can detect traces of common "date rape" drugs.
These are only a few suggestions. Think about it, and add your own. If a certain scenario causes you worry or stress, ask a professional for suggestions specific to your worries. This is not to keep you on your guard. Not at all! This process is so you can live fearlessly.
One final note: I know all too well that the only thing that causes attacks is attackers. If someone is assaulted, it is not her or his fault. The process of being proactive is only to reduce risk, and give people a plan of action in times of stress. Preparing physically, mentally, and environmentally takes the guesswork out of personal safety.
If you have questions or concerns, don't hesitate to contact me. I am always happy to share my experience, and offer suggestions.