Being a woman in today's world can be especially frightening. An overall lack of personal safety means it's easy to feel afraid, even when you shouldn't be. Whether you’re just out for an evening walk or traveling alone, there are still potential risks that need to be kept in mind.
It's unfortunate to say that this fear isn't at all unfounded. A 2018 national study shows that over 80% of women have experienced some form of harassment or assault in their lifetime. More than half of that involves being physically touched in an unwelcome, sexual way.
Thankfully, there are many precautions we can take to mitigate the amount of danger we encounter day-to-day. And to help you with that, we've put together this comprehensive guide on the best personal safety tips for women to get you through any harrowing circumstances.
Take Self-Defense Classes
A tried-and-tested way to protect yourself is by taking formal self-defense courses. These will equip you with physical conditioning, self-defense techniques, and valuable life skills that will be vital should you ever find your personal safety at risk.
Martial arts is an expansive field, and there are many excellent martial arts courses that you can choose from. Some of the most popular ones, like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or Muay Thai, are well-known for being excellent at self-defense.
Other martial arts are so effective that they're even used by military personnel. Krav Maga, for instance, is noted for its hyper-efficiency and excellent applicability in real-life situations.
At the very least, self-defense classes will boost your confidence, teach you discipline, and keep you in tip-top condition. At best, they will give you the tools needed for escaping a dangerous situation--or overcoming one.
Of course, these kinds of courses don't come cheap. Whether due to scheduling or budgeting constraints, if taking regular classes isn't on the menu for you right now, you should still consider attending one-off seminars.
For example, Impact Bay Area's "Women Empowered" program covers a plethora of topics vital for defending yourself in the face of danger, from basic awareness and avoidance strategies all the way up to advanced hand-to-hand combat maneuvers.
Buy a Personal Alarm Device
Personal alarm devices are also great options for maintaining personal safety. Simple and compact, these elegantly designed gadgets make for excellent tools during emergencies, or even just to give you peace of mind while walking out at night.
There are loads of options on the market for anyone eager to nab a pair, but they all perform the same basic functions. By emitting loud, ear-piercing noises that can reach up to 140 decibels, personal alarm devices alert others to your location and inform them that you're in danger.
Some devices take things a step further, implementing GPS tracking and LED light functionality. Others even have built-in panic buttons capable of sending emergency messages to your chosen contacts.
Although they don't directly deter attackers--it's not like an alarm can punch a dangerous man away--the sudden loud noise will very often discourage them from pushing through with their plans. The best option for them will usually be to retreat, knowing that help is now on your way.
Do Proper Risk Assessment
It's always a great idea to be prepared for dangerous situations, but it's often better to avoid places where these things can happen in the first place. As such, thorough risk assessments are critical for personal safety.
Try to get a general overview of an area before going there. Look closely at places where crime rates may be high before planning trips or events, and pay special attention to areas known for violent crimes. The last thing anyone would want in scenarios like these is to get caught off-guard.
Take down the phone numbers of local police stations so you know who to call if anything unexpected happens. If possible, try to conduct your activities in daylight or when you're surrounded by trusted peers, to make it unappealing for would-be attackers to do anything fishy.
Finally, practice proper protocol in case danger appears imminent, such as what kind of behavior might delay an attacker or prevent them from escalating the situation.
Avoid Dangerous Situations
Although not always possible, steps should still be taken to make sure you don't end up running into a dangerous situation. Personal safety doesn't just involve making preparations for danger, but also taking proactive measures to avoid risky situations.
Start by paying close attention to your surroundings, especially in areas you're unfamiliar with. Be aware of noise levels and crowds entering or leaving a specific place. Keep a healthy distance from suspicious-looking individuals or groups.
Be sure to limit alcohol consumption in public spaces! Alcohol can make you a more vulnerable target, and it's been noted to precede many dangerous situations. Stick with friends and family whenever possible, too.
Threat Recognition Techniques
If you can manage to recognize early signs of threat, then you'll be one step ahead over anyone who might try to harm you. Although different attackers will often try to surprise you, there are often signs that you can watch out for to spot malicious intent.
These include jittery body language, constantly scanning their surroundings, hands concealed in their pockets, among others, clothing that hides their build or facial features, among others.
These may seem superficial at first glance. After all, it's not like you should expect everyone in a mask and hoodie will attack you. You should still give everyone the benefit of the doubt.
The reality is it's often a strong combination of these hints that indicates danger.
A guy in a hoodie and mask? Totally normal. If he's jittery, eyeing you, and constantly looking around? Strange, but not unreasonable. Hands in his pockets? Following you? Maybe now's a good time to get concerned.
It's not a safe world out there, and it's not your fault if you ever feel suspicious or paranoid of your surroundings. There are always wicked people who are apathetic towards others, willing to take advantage of those around them. It's reasonable to want to be protected from them.
These tips won't guarantee your safety, but they'll definitely do a lot to protect you. If you keep them in mind, practice them, and take them to heart, then you'll have done a lot to keep yourself safe.