Personal safety is a subject many may avoid thinking about in a subconscious way, thinking "nothing bad can happen to me!" But danger can hide anywhere so it's smart to make safety-conscious habits part of your everyday life.
There are relatively minor things we can do to avoid an attack but the MOST IMPORTANT is to practice and develop situational awareness. According to Wichita Police Department's Lieutenant Doug Nolte, this involves preparing yourself for "what if" scenarios and assessing your situation and surroundings at all times.
If, for example, you're headed into the store or the mall after dark:
- Park as close to the building as possible;
- Park in a busy, heavily-traveled area;
- Park & walk through a well-lit area;
- Go with a friend OR have someone escort you to your car.
There's strength in numbers so being with even one more person is far better than being alone.
Cellphones can be a great tool for defense, too, as long as you're not distracted or burying your face in it. Call a friend or loved-one as you're walking and alert them to your surroundings; you can let them know to call 9-1-1 if you should scream or if they hear something questionable. Just don't be texting or so engrossed in conversation that you miss practicing your situational awareness!
Despite all these avoidance tips, you could still be attacked. Right now, though, before that possibility occurs, you should answer ONE question - are you the type to FIGHT? Or FLEE? There's no wrong answer, but knowing that answer can help you to be prepared. If you want to fight:
- Fight HARD;
- Carry a weapon AND know how to use it;
- Scream, bite, kick, or aim at sensitive areas of the body, like the nose, throat, eyes, or groin.
If you don't want to fight, keep your wits about you and be a good witness and make mental notes of:
- Hair and eye color;
- Weapons used (if applicable);
- What they said.
All of this information can help law enforcement to look for and hopefully identify and bring in your attacker. Be smart, stay safe, and know yourself enough to decide how you'd handle an attack - your life may be on the line and better to be safe than sorry!