Violence and abuse affect women from all backgrounds every day. Sometimes women are attacked by strangers, but often they are attacked by people who are close to them.
I wrote this article because a woman in my life was a victim of violence and abuse.
The situation was so bad that she had to be rescued out of a life of slavery by the U.S. Marshalls.
It is my wish that at least one woman will be spared that kind of pain because of the information in this article. I am going to cover several situations where women have been attacked or where they continue to be vulnerable to attack. Please share this on your social networks, email distribution, and by word of mouth.
Three Principles of Women’s Safety
1. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
A criminal attack rarely occurs when someone is expecting it. Most criminals are looking for easy targets. If the criminal believes you are prepared and expecting an attack, then he is likely to look for an easier target. I hear “be aware of your surroundings” so many times, but I worry that nobody really knows what it means. It means you need to ACTIVELY pay attention to what is going on around you at all times. It means you need to pull your head out of your smart phone when you are walking in a parking lot. It means you need to ACTIVELY try to identify danger before the threat identifies you.
And perhaps most importantly, it means that you need to give off the appearance that you are both expecting and ready for an attack. Convey the appearance that you are a hard target!
2. Purposefully Avoid Danger
The best way to win any violent encounter is to never get in a violent encounter. You must always ask yourself if you are placing yourself in a situation with a potential for violence. You must purposefully seek to avoid these situations.
3. If you MUST fight, GO FREAKING CRAZY!
The time to fight isn’t when you are bound and gagged in the trunk of a car on your way to the place of your attackers choosing. If you get in a situation where you have to physically fight a man or a group of men, the odds are not good for you. Those are extremely terrible odds. But the odds of you escaping with your life are the best at the BEGINNING of the confrontation, and they decrease significantly as time goes on. GO UGLY EARLY!
Here are some common situations where violence is portrayed against women and my ideas for the best way to avoid / survive those situations. Always remember that recognizing that an individual is potentially dangerous makes them less so.
Stalking is a repeated and ongoing pattern of behavior which leads a responsible person to conclude that the perpetrator is intending to frighten, harass, or terrify the victim. It is illegal in all 50 states.
The best way to minimize your risk of acquiring a stalker is to trust your gut feelings. When someone sets off your internal warning system, do not easily dismiss those feelings.
If someone is bugging you for a date, or persistently seeking your attention, simply say “No.” You don’t need to soften the blow, you don’t need to explain anything, “no” is all that is needed. If you say anything other than “no,” it is the same thing as rewarding the stalker’s persistent behavior. Do not make an attempt to soften the rejection. Just give a serious, unapologetic, “no.”
Don’t say, “I don’t give out my phone number,” or “Not today,” or “Now isn’t a good time,” or anything other than a solid “no.” Anything else and the stalker hears, “not now but keep trying because you’re getting close.”
What to do If You Believe You Are Being Stalked
1) Take the situation seriously.
Denial is a killer. Alert the police, alert your family, alert your friends. Be prepared to defend yourself.
2) Be Aware of Your Surroundings.
Maintain a state of relaxed awareness (or alertness) at all times. Notice the people who are around you. Notice what those people are doing. Ask yourself why they are there and how they can pose a threat to you.
3) Improve your home security.
Get better locks and always lock your doors and windows. Increase the lighting outside of your home. Close your curtains lock all windows. See the paragraph below titled “Home Alone.” Delete all personal info on any social media account (Facebook, twitter, google plus, Linkedin, email signature). Never post where you will be, where you are going, or any personal info on any internet account. Delete all social media accounts.
4) Do not throw away any document that has your personal info on it. This prevents your stalker from rummaging through your trashcan.
5) Contact your local law enforcement agency for help.
But do not expect the police to keep you safe in the meantime. The Police do not keep us safe, they respond to crimes after they have been committed. You are responsible for your own safety.
6) Keep Good Written Records of everything that happens, when it happens, where it happened, and how it happened.
This includes recording harassing phone calls, statements from any witnesses, pictures of any vandalism, names of witnesses, and your response. Give all of this info to the police as often as you can and keep copies for your own records.
7) Contact the local women’s crisis center.
Just google “women’s crisis center” and the nearest one in your area should pop up. These places have resources for dealing with psycho stalkers…USE THEM.
8) DO NOT HANDLE THIS BY YOURSELF.
Get as many people and agencies involved as you can. This psycho would not be stalking you if he didn’t already know that he could physically over power you and was pretty certain that he could get away with it. Stalkers prefer victims who will not call for help.
9) Don’t assume anyone else will protect you.
Learn to defend yourself. Arm yourself. And I’m not just talking about guns here. Learn to fight with your hands only as a last resort. Carry non-lethal weapons with you as well. Carry mace and learn to use it, and practice using it. Carry a pocket knife & learn to use it. Learn to swing your purse like a weapon.
10) NEVER REWARD THE STALKER.
If he rings your door bell 100 days in a row, do not answer it on the 101st day. You’ve just taught him that his persistence will be rewarded. Do not contact the stalker for any reason.
11) Develop some basic plans for how to deal with the worst case scenarios.
Decide how you will respond if you are confronted at your home. What if you are confronted in your car? What if you are confronted in your work place parking lot? Come up with several contingency plans for dealing with an encounter with your stalker. Always know where the exits are.
Home Alone…How to Improve Your Home Security
No home can be 100% secure from attack, but there are some things you can do to extremely reduce the odds of your home getting targeted. Here are some of the best things you can do to improve your home security.
1. Get a Dog.
A dog is the best home security system. You don’t need a specially trained dog, you just need one that will bark. Every dog will instinctively defend its territory. Criminals look for easy targets. When they come up on a house and a dog is barking its head off, that immediately tells them to go find an easier target. Most importantly, a dog provides you with an early warning system. You never want to be caught off guard. Action is faster than reaction. The moment that dog starts barking, you know it’s time to prepare to defend yourself and your house. Dogs save lives every day.
2. Lock every door and every window all the time.
It sounds like common sense, but you would be surprised how many unlocked doors and windows are taken advantage of every day, especially second story ones (yes criminals can climb). It is TOO easy to break into the average home. Do not hide a spare key anywhere on your property, any half-witted burglar will find it. If your door locks and window locks are inadequate, it is very easy to go to the local hardware store and get some better locks. The average burglar is just a snot-nosed-punk-teen-aged-idiot. All you have to do is secure your home enough to deter this idiot and you will avoid 95% of all burglaries. And increase the amount of lighting outside of your home. Criminals hate light.
3. Get a Good Alarm System.
The point of an alarm system is not to protect the valuable items in your home. If you are afraid of somebody stealing your flat screen, then get an insurance policy. The point of an alarm system is to act as an early warning system so that you don’t wake up with a criminal standing over you. Just like a dog, you do not need anything fancy, all you need is something that will make noise. I suggest this alarm system from HomeSafe.
This alarm system is great because it is very simple to install yourself, and easy to add to it. You can order as many door sensors and motion detectors as you want. You don’t have to pay a monthly fee like you would with a home alarm company. There really is no reason to have the alarm system call you when someone breaks into your home. All you need it to do is make a ton of noise when someone breaks into your home. Once that happens, either the criminal is going to run away, or you are going to wake up, grab a gun and defend yourself.
If you purchase this alarm system, I suggest you put a door sensor on each door to your home, and install enough motion detectors so that a criminal cannot make it to your bedroom without setting the alarm off. Also, each alarm has a delay time before it is triggered. This alarm comes standard with a 20 second delay. That’s too long. I reset the delay time to 5 seconds, hopefully the criminal is not in a hurry.
4. Buy a Weapon or Weapons
There is no reason to get into hand to hand combat with a home invader. That is stupid, always use a tool (weapon). Especially if you are a woman, if someone breaks into your house to do you harm, all bets are off.
Best Weapons For Home Defense:
a) 20 Gauge Pump Action Shotgun
20 Gauge has ½ the recoil as a 12 Gauge, but is just as effective at home defense ranges. Load it with 2 ¾” #3 Buck Shot. This will make it easier for you to get good hits on target, and minimize traveling through walls should you miss. If you load it with slugs, you better be accurate. Here is a picture of my home defense shotgun. It’s a Maverick 88 12 Gauge, which can be purchased for about $100 at Academy. It holds 5 shells in the tube and one in the chamber. You can buy a sleeve that holds extra shells for under $10 at Academy. Make sure you get the one with the 18.5″ barrel.
b) .357 Magnum Revolver
I prefer Smith & Wesson 686. You can shoot .357 Magnum bullets, or you can load it with .38 special +p bullets for less recoil. Both the above shotgun and the revolver are really big guns that are easy to aim and shoot, thereby increasing the odds of a good hit. They are also big enough to scare the crap out of someone so that maybe you don’t have to pull the trigger. But make no mistake, if someone invades your home with the intent of doing you harm, I’m advising you to pull the trigger until the threat is down and completely eliminated.
c) Mace & Other Weapons
Get a big can of mace, learn to use it, and if someone breaks into your home, make them drink the entire can. Remember that mace does not eliminate the threat; it only buys you time to escape the threat. If you are uncomfortable storing & using firearms for home protection, get some training, and get comfortable with them. If it is illegal for you to own a gun where you live (NYC, Chicago, College Dorm), then get an aluminum baseball bat, a huge skillet, a hammer, a taser, and learn how to use them, and practice using them often.
5. Practice Defending Your Home.
The military has it right, they practice and drill all the time. When I was a Nuclear Operator in the Navy we trained night and day for a nuclear meltdown that never happened. Even today, some 10 years later, you could sit me down in front of a nuclear reactor panel, and if the crap hit the fan, I would know how to put the reactor in a safe condition…and it would be a boring non-event to me. You need to practice what you would do if someone broke into your home in the middle of the day, in the middle of the night, early in the morning.
Practice how you would respond if your alarm went off in the middle of the night, or what you would do if your dog started barking his head off in the middle of the night. Practice how you would use a bat, pepper-spray, or a gun to defend your home if needed. Practice dealing with the criminal, quickly escaping your home, and calling the police. Imagine your worst case scenario, imagine the nightmare that you hope never happens, and then drill and practice that situation over and over until it becomes a boring event for you. Train like you fight so that if the event ever happens, it will seem like a boring non-event to you that you have seen and won a thousand times.
If the first time you ever experience a home invasion is the time it actually happens, then you are going to respond to it like a fumbling, frightened loser. You will probably not win that encounter. You need to simulate this scenario thousands of times in your mind. I would even go as far as getting one of your friends to help you simulate the scenario and train for it. (Do not perform any simulations with loaded or unloaded firearms).
Safety in the College Dorm & On Campus
Securing your college dorm room should be a concern for any female student. Ensure your door locks properly and is not easily accessed with a credit card or other tool. If you find your lock to be faulty or easily defeated, demand that your college rectify the problem.
Most college dorm rooms only have one entrance, so if someone breaks in you are going to have to fight your way out. Never engage in hand to hand combat with an intruder, ARM YOURSELF. An aluminum bat, a large frying pan, or pepper spray would be a good start.
You do not want to wake up with an intruder standing over you, so find a way to sleep with an early warning system in place. You can easily buy a door chime or door alarm that will make noise every time your door is opened. Walmart sells door alarms that will go off every time your door is opened. You can also buy the alarm system shown above to do the same thing.
You can go the super cheap route and prop a chair up against the door handle, or rig some cans to fall if the door is tampered with.
When you are walking on campus, remember to always be aware of your surroundings. Actively verify that you are not being followed. Do not go to your room if you find someone is following close behind you. Unlocking your door when you are alone in the dorm hallway is a very vulnerable time. Always ensure you are not being followed and if you are, get your pepper spray or other weapon out and have it ready to use. Then make your way to campus security or a public area of safety.
Safety While Driving
1. LOCK YOUR DOORS AND DO NOT PISS PEOPLE OFF.
The first rule of car safety is LOCK YOUR DOORS. FOR GOODNESS SAKE LOCK YOUR DANG DOORS! LOCK YOUR FREAKING DOORS!
Many cars will automatically lock the doors as soon as you put it in drive. MANY CARS DO NOT. If you have a car that does not automatically lock the doors, then get in the habit of locking your doors the moment you get in the car. Lock your freaking doors. There is no reason not to. Why make it easy for criminals to enter your car. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS LOCK YOUR DOORS.
Road rage is the most common cause of vehicular violence. Go out of your way to not piss anyone off. If someone cuts you off, release the need to respond, release the need to flip them off, release the need to mouth words to them. It is just not worth it. Let people in. Sure the guy is an idiot and does not know how to drive, but it is not worth pissing someone off and getting shot. Just let him cut you off and go happily on your way.
Do not cut anyone off. It’s not worth getting shot. People will shoot you if you piss them off on the road. It happens all the time. I have a female friend who gives a little thumbs down gesture every time she gets cut off or cut in on. I’m hoping that this little innocuous gesture doesn’t set some psycho off and end up causing a mess of trouble for my friend. People are crazy. Keep that in mind when you are on the road.
Keep your car well maintained and in good working order. It would be ridiculous for your to have a life altering tragedy because you didn’t get your oil changed and ended up broken down on a dark lonely road.
2. Actively Verify That You Are Not Being Followed.
My friend owns a home that he rents out. The home is in a bad neighborhood. A single mother with 2 kids lives in the home. She notified him that she is moving out in 30 days because she was robbed in her driveway. She was driving home from the grocery store, noticed she was being followed by a strange car, thought nothing of it, pulled into her driveway, and opened the garage door.
As soon as she stepped out of her car, the man who was following her got out of his car pointing a gun at her and demanded her purse and the keys to the car. Her purse was in her car with her 2 year old child sitting in a car seat. Just at that moment, her 7 year old son walked out of the house to help her carry in the groceries.
Now she is standing in her driveway with her 2 year old child in the car, her 7 year old son standing in the garage, and a man holding a gun on her demanding her keys and her purse. Can you see how pulling into your driveway is a very vulnerable time?
Never let a criminal get the drop on you. Never let a criminal surprise you. Be aware of your surroundings. If you notice someone following you (or suspect someone might be following you), do not pull into a vulnerable defenseless situation, keep driving until you get to a crowded well-lit public place, and or call for help.
3. Stay In Your Car.
Cars are heavy and fast, they make good weapons. If you get bumped from behind, stay in your car. If some stranger trys to stop you on the side of the road, stay in your car and drive away. If you get blocked in by a stranger in a car or standing on the street, stay in your car and drive away, use your car as a battering ram if you must.
Do not get out of your dang car. It is much easier to drive out of danger than run from it.
4. Keep Emergency Items In Your Car.
Keep a flashlight and extra batteries in your car. Keep a good pocket knife in your car. Keep a weapon in your car (gun if legal, baseball bat, taser, pepper spray, mace). It doesn’t matter what kind of weapon you keep, I’m just trying to ingrain in you that there is no reason that you should ever engage in hand to hand combat with a criminal. THERE IS NO REASON FOR YOU TO FIGHT FAIR. USE A TOOL. And go ugly early.
Buy an extra cell phone battery and keep it in your purse. I have never been in an emergency situation and had enough cell phone battery charge. It just doesn’t happen. You can also buy emergency cell phone chargers on Amazon. These will easily fit in your purse or glove box and do not need to be plugged in to charge your phone.
5. Prepare to Be Carjacked.
Practice responding to a carjacking. Prepare for a scenario where you are car jacked, tied up, and stuffed in your trunk. Keep a flashlight stored in your trunk. Keep a cutting tool stored in your trunk. Keep a backup weapon stored in your trunk.
6. Do Not Be Taken Hostage!
Carjacking is an ambush. If your doors are locked and your windows are up you can usually drive away very quickly.
Be suspicious of people walking up to your car in traffic. Be suspicious of vehicles that bump you from behind. Do not exit your vehicle if it happens. Be suspicious of anyone who tries to stop your car. Do not be afraid to just drive away. Do not be afraid to run people down if you are left with no other choice.
Rule No. 1 – Do not get out of your car. Rule No. 2 – Just drive away. Even if they have a gun, just speed away. Rule No. 3 – Keep a buffer zone between you and other cars that allows you to maneuver and drive away. If you stop at a red light, keep enough room between you and the car in front of you so that you cannot be boxed in. Leave yourself an avenue of escape.
The FBI Uniform Crime Reports state that the majority of the time when a victim goes with the criminal to a different location, that victim is killed. Do not be taken hostage. Fight for your life.
If an attacker tries to force you into a vehicle, it is time to fight for your life and anything goes. Gouge his eyes out, bite his nose off, use whatever tool is at your disposal.
If your attacker is able to take you to another location, the odds are very good that you will be killed. Go Ugly Early! Your best chance for survival is to escape AT THE BEGINNING of the attack. Violence of action is the order of the day (explosive and sudden crazy woman violence of action).
In any physical altercation, she who hits first usually wins.
Walking in the Parking Lot
Do not leave a store until you are completely ready to get in your car and immediately drive off. You do not want to have to waste time at your car fumbling for your keys. Have your keys in your hand, with the exact key needed to start your car, before you ever leave the store.
Do not talk on your cell phone while you are walking through the parking lot. Your ability to be aware of your surroundings or detect danger is severely reduced if you are jacking around on your cell phone.
Constantly scan for danger when you are walking in a parking lot, and get a security escort if possible.
When ever you are walking, be it in the parking lot or on the side walk, keep in mind that most muggings start with an interview. If a shady character approaches you and starts asking questions, either for money, or help, or just trying to interview you, just give them a stern, “SORRY I CAN’T HELP YOU.”
If they continue to harass you, it’s time to realize that he may be setting you up for an ambush. Most muggings are ambushes. At this point you need to make sure nobody is sneaking up behind you are encircling you. You need to employ quick lateral movement to disrupt the attackers plans.
Always know your escape routes. Be aware of ambushes (multiple attackers converging from different directions). A good counter ambush technique is lateral motion (quickly move sideways then scan for danger).
Generally one guy will approach from the front, asking you questions, trying to get your attention. Then another attacker will flank you from behind or from your blind side. As soon as you see someone approaching from the front trying to distract you, take a few quick steps sideways while scanning all around you. Tell the guy in front that you can’t help him. If he persists, make him drink an entire can of mace.
Don’t allow anyone to crowd you or cut off your escape routes.
Do not jog when the sun is not shining (early morning, late at night). Do not establish an easily predictable pattern. Do not jog without some kind of a weapon. There is no reason to engage a criminal in hand to hand combat. Use a tool, do not fight fair.
Do not jog alone, get a partner or two.
Safety On a Date
First dates should always be in a public place, and you should always meet him there. Don’t date a stranger alone, take a friend. Do not date strangers. Do not date people you meet on the internet.
Do not let strangers pick you up at your house. Do not tell strangers where you live. Meet him at Starbucks with a friend. Get to know him. If he gives off a psycho vibe, never see him again. There is no reason to go on a first date with a stranger all by yourself.
If you are ever on a date and things go bad, fight dirty, fight hard, and go ugly early (eye gouge, nose bite, face scratch), and do whatever it takes to escape.
Wrapping It All Up
The common theme through all of these scenarios is that you need to always be aware of your surroundings and be constantly scanning for danger.
The point is that no criminal wants to attack someone who is expecting to be attacked. They prefer ambushing you and catching you off guard. It makes for a much easier target.
Even lions in the wild don’t go after the strong gazelles. They attack the slow and weak. They employ the sneak attack.
You will increase your safety by increasing your awareness and preparedness. Make an effort to give off the appearance of being a HARD TARGET.
But always remember that if things go bad, you need to go ugly early.