Monday, January 7, 2013

Better safe than sorry!

In my previous post I talked about how fear psychosis was getting the better of women around me and how I have resolved not to let fear get into my already frazzled nerves. So I thought I’d share some views on how to keep you safe rather than fearful. 

1. Look around you as you take a walk in the park, on the streets, anywhere for that matter. 8/10 people are busy talking on their mobiles or listening to songs, with their ears and hence their minds completely sealed out from their surroundings.
Always be aware of your surroundings. 

This applies whether you are traveling alone or in groups. Don’t just focus inwardly on your thoughts, or keep your self busy with your phone if you are alone. Even if your friends are together, don’t get lost amidst the chatter. 

If you are used to listening to your walkman while outside, drop this habit, especially in isolated areas. With your walkman on, you cannot hear the approach of a possible attacker.

Keep one eye out for your environment, looking out for suspicious characters, possible danger, etc.

Also, don’t assume that because your area has been “safe” thus far, that it will continue to be so.  If you see people loitering on the streets near your house, call the police on a non emergency number and report it.

2. Remember that criminals look out for easy targets. Slouched walk or panicky walk makes you look like an easy victim. 

       Walk with a straight posture and your arms swinging by your sides. 

Look up and look confident. Look an attacker in the eye. It usually scares the attacker now that you've seen their faces and could identify them in a line- up; you lose appeal as a target. Carry something like an umbrella or anything you can use as a weapon.

3. Change routes/mode of travel

We often stick to the same routes and mode of travel everyday seldom bothering to change it. By changing your route/ mode of travel often you can avoid being attacked or harassed from those who know your schedule, method and route of travel. 

Avoid taking the road less traveled, even if it means you take a little longer. Avoid unfamiliar areas, or unsafe areas. 

If you are riding by bus or train, do not sit on the window seat as you may be "blocked in" by a potential assailant. Always select the seat next to the aisle so that you can quickly leave if necessary.

If you are taking public transportation alone after peak hours, sit as close to the driver as possible and/or choose the section of the bus/train that is most crowded. Try to get a seat near the exit as well. Your safety is more important.

4. Tell others about your whereabouts

Parents, spouses or friends should know where you are going and when you will be back, so that your absence will be noticed.

5. Trust your instincts.

The ‘gut’ feeling is more often right than wrong. 

If you are walking somewhere and feel strange or scared, don’t ignore this feeling. Take extra precautions by walking a little faster to get to a more populated or well-lit area or change the route you’ve been driving on.
If you think you are being followed, change your route and activity.

You can cross the street, change directions, or enter a populated building or store. Do whatever is necessary to avoid being alone with the person who is following you. Inform a police officer or security official about the follower.

Mentally note houses at intervals on each route you take that can be used as "safe houses" if you are attacked, such as shops or houses that you know to be occupied by a friend or acquaintance.

Attract attention if you are in a dangerous situation.

Get others to pay attention to what's happening to you if you are under attack or being harassed. You can alert others by honking a car horn or loudly describing what is happening. Shout “fire” instead of “help” to attract attention. Attackers are known to leave a woman alone if she yelled or showed that she would not be afraid to fight back

Danger can lurk anywhere, in elevators, staircases, parking lots, public transport, college campuses, on streets and even closer home. You cannot control the mind of the attacker, but you can keep yourself safe by being alert and confident. Whether or not they are punished is beyond our realm, but being safe is within.

Better to be safe than sorry!
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