In these frightening days and times, with US having the highest rate of rape, everyone can be a victim of anyone else’s desperation. You, as a woman, need to take care of yourself. Your car can be stolen, your house can be broken into, your apartment can be burned down, and you, yourself, can be the victim. Protect yourself from sexual assault! There are many ways that you can avoid sexual assault, and many ways that you can keep yourself and your dignity intact. All you need to do is to be prepared and vigilant, to never waver in your confidence, and to be aware of your surroundings without losing your zest for life. After all, paranoia can only go so far: you need to make it work for you.
1. Avoid hanging out alone in any isolated location, whether it’s bright as day or dark as night. Sure, there are security cameras and the occasional kind stranger, but don’t court danger all the same. When you are alone, you are as good as prey, and you do not want to fall into the trap that nature sets for anyone who’s alone. If you do find yourself alone, bring protection: a mace spray may be your best
2. Walk where it’s brightly-lit, and where there are lots of people hanging out. The chances of you being sexually assaulted in broad daylight in full view of a bunch of people will be high only if you work on the set of a porn film. Otherwise, use the magic of lighting and community to elude your would-be predators.
3. Change your route to and from work every day. Some sexual predators track their victims for weeks, looking for habits and patterns. Break your own patterns – after all, you can still make your life exciting. Just don’t be reckless.
4. Don’t hang around your parking lot. Just get into your car and drive! This is especially true if you have to travel late at night. Parking lots are lonesome, dimly-lit areas that are good breeding grounds for stalkers and attackers.
5. Budget your time: Avoid working late hours. You may think that the evenings are quiet and conducive to work. They’re conducive to sexual assaulters too.
6. Practice controlling your voice: don’t tremble, be firm. If you do encounter someone who wants to grope or touch you, you can shoo them away. How? By showing that you are not willing to be a victim. A predator is only as strong as its prey is weak. Turn the tables and talk in a firm voice.
7. Rearrange your hand bag so that everything you need is where you can grab it easily. Reaching for that mace spray? Make sure you don’t pull out that can of hair spray instead. Looking for that pocket knife? Make sure you don’t pull out your pen by mistake, unless it’s a pen knife. Keep your weapons in a location that you can reach so that you don’t fiddle with your bag in the process.
8. Train yourself to use your weapon of choice to your advantage. You may have a weapon to bludgeon your attacker with, and something good for stabbing, but weapons are only as good as their users. Take a class, read online, do research, and practice your moves so that you are prepared to use your weapons right when the time comes.
9. Carry weapons as often as you can so that you can protect yourself.
10. Know your body’s weak points. Do you have weak knees? You could be brought to your knees with the slightest kick, so start doing a workout. Are your arms out of shape? You need elbows to knock your attacker over if he comes up from behind. Learn what your body needs in order to function well.
11. Learn to be vigilant – recognize something suspicious, and allow yourself to be paranoid. When in doubt, change your route or run in the opposite direction. This means that you need to keep your eyes peeled all the time. If you think you’re too sleepy to notice something, either have a cup of coffee or drink orange juice to keep yourself alert.
12. Think on your toes and always be prepared to defend yourself. You may have all the karate skills in the world, and all the weapons that your body can carry, but if you don’t respond quickly and have quick reflexes, you can end up hurt. As you are taught to drive defensively, teach and train yourself to walk and stroll and enjoy the world with some health amount of defensiveness.
13. Stash all your jewelry away when you walk on the streets. Anything conspicuous can make you fodder for predators. True, robbery and sexual assault might be too separate things, but then again, why court danger?
14. Do not hitchhike! This may be the most common-sense advice that anyone can give you, but in desperation for a ride home, you might think that going on the highway and asking for a ride can be safe. Find another way to get home. Better yet, avoid any situation that might put you on a highway and get you into danger that you shouldn’t be in!
15. Look confident and do not look like a target that’s easy to spot and weaken. Walk with your head held high. Don’t look fearful or paranoid. Look like you know where you’re going. Build your confidence! The world may be a dangerous place, but it isn’t a place for weakening paranoia.
16. Practice eye contact. This not only builds confidence, but it can weaken would be attackers who do not want to be identified.
17. Wait in a lighted and peopled area if you’re waiting for your transportation to arrive. A common mistake that many women make is to wait in a certain area even if it is dark, if only to get transportation to a place they need to be in. Find a nearby place where you can hang out, where you are still in reach of people and within sight.
18. Sit behind the driver or near the door when on the bus. This will keep anyone from sneaking up on you.
19. If you can’t get a seat near the driver or the door, get an aisle seat so that you don’t get pushed into the window. Sexual predators aim to weaken you and literally push you into a corner. Don’t give them that chance!
20. Get the train compartment that has the most passengers when you are traveling by train late at night. Again, you want to be around people, and you don’t want to be presenting yourself as a most welcome bait.
21. On the other hand, get a moderately occupied train when you are commuting during rush hours or peak hours. You don’t want to get groped or fondled without you getting the chance to find out who is doing the groping or fondling.
22. Have your keys ready as you are going to your car, whether you are parked in the parking lot or on the street. You don’t want to be fiddling with your bag while waiting in front of your car door. Don’t keep yourself vulnerable.
23. Keep your doors locked and your windows closed when you are driving. This is especially true when you reach intersections and you have to stop.
24. Always look in the back seat of your car, and under it, very quickly before you enter. Your car is a pretty good hiding place for people, but don’t linger on looking at it. Just take quick peeks, and then launch yourself in and drive away.
25. Never leave your car unlocked! You may go into the store for just a minute, or off to your library to return your book for just a second. Don’t take your absence for granted. If you think you’re quick, sexual predators are quicker.
26. See someone in your car threatening you? Run away from your car and start screaming - and loudly. You want to make noise, not cooperate with your would-be captor in hiding what he is about to do.
27. See someone pointing at your tires on the road, or signaling that you should pull over? Unless it’s a cop – and even then, you should be cautious – keep driving. You can be pulled over for the express purpose of someone charging into your car while you’re distracted, and then holding you hostage.
28. Don’t ALWAYS stop to help. It may not be the Good Samaritan way of doing things, but if you see someone pulled over to the side of the road, think robbery and assault scheme. You can’t really tell in these troubled times.
29. Don’t be afraid to ask someone for help, say for going to your car or escorting you across a parking lot. Make sure you can trust this someone to help you, though, or you may be leading yourself into a trap.
30. Be alert when walking in your parking lot. Not only should you not hang around, but if circumstances do force you to hang around, be alert and watchful. Avoid using your cellular phone and calling someone first while you are in your car. Remember, do not be distracted, and do not render yourself vulnerable.
31. Getting a taxi cab? Always look at the ID tag of your taxi driver, and ask a friend to note down his or her plate number. Check that the ID tag of your taxi driver matches that of the driver.
32. Be extremely vigilant if your taxi has central locking. You may be locked in without your express permission, or the taxi driver may have friends waiting to sandwich you in and take your elsewhere.
33. Call for taxis as much as possible instead of hailing them on the street. This way, the driver can be better traced.
34. When walking on the street, walk against the traffic so that you can see if cars are coming. Not only is this safer for you in terms of not getting hit by a car, but it will allow you to see if someone is coming toward you. Just be sure not to get blinded by headlights.
35. If you are being shadowed, or followed close by a car, run in the opposite direction. This can make it difficult for your follower to continue tracking you.
36. Avoid using an IPod or plugging anything into your ears that might make you less vigilant. This is especially true if you are walking home alone late at night. The music may make you feel powerful and strong, but having a big bass banging against your eardrums can also keep out sounds that may put you on the alert.
37. Make friends with the people who live along your route going to and from work so that you have a place to run to just in case you do get into trouble. This way, they know that if there is frantic knocking on their doors in the middle of the night, and they find you, they know that they can trust you and take you into their protection.
38. Never take anything for granted: even if you have roving police in your area, and even if you haven’t experienced any assault in the last five years, anything can happen within moments.
39. When dialing for help from a telephone box, dial the number immediately, and then turn around, so that you can be more alert for anything that is coming in your direction.
40. Use the telephone box as a weapon. You can use the phone itself to whack your attacker, and if your telephone box has a door, you can use it to wedge your attacker in.
41. Avoid wearing restrictive clothing that will keep you from running or moving. This includes fitting skirts, extremely high and uncomfortable heels, and jackets that may keep your hands to your sides. You need room to move, and you need to keep your attacker at a good enough distance for a good kick.
42. Avoid wearing provocative clothing. This may seem to be even more restrictive, but in these desperate times, you need to know how not to court danger. Sure, that neckline reaching down to your ankles can make you feel sexy, but do you really want to attract the wrong crowd and put yourself in even more danger?
43. Avoid doing anything that will hamper your senses, especially if you are coming from a party. This means not drinking or taking a large amount of sugar (which may lead to a sugar crash later on). This makes you extremely vulnerable, not to mention insensate.
44. Watch your drinks closely! Buy your own drinks as much as possible, as someone may slip you a pill just to get you into bed. You want to be awake and living when you get home, not hammered, plastered, and probably raped.
45. If you do get attacked, use your strongest joint: your elbow. If you can’t use your elbow, try kicking. The groin and the knees are weakest in your opponent. When your opponent is down, don’t take a look at him. Look fast enough to identify him later. Just run away.
46. Never take anything for granted: lock all the windows and doors of your home whether you are in or out of it.
47. Find people to attend events with and avoid going alone. Agree to look at for one another and make sure to contact each other when you get home, just so you know that all of you are safe. Sure, you may want to be alone, but reserve those times for when you are going out in broad daylight, or staying at home, locked safely in.
48. Know the emergency numbers in your area. You need to know, by heart, who to call.
49. Listen to your intuitions and obey your gut. Sometimes, your senses are trying to tell you something, and your stress can block your intuition. That said, try to make your life as stress-free as possible so that you are lucid and alert.
50. Take self-defense classes and practice!
Most of these only require common sense. Do you have any other suggestions on how you can prevent being a victim of sexual assault?