This is the first summer I’m spending away from my hometown! I’m so excited to be living in a big city full of fun things to do. I can walk to a ton of restaurants and stores, and let’s just say that my parents aren’t too happy with the shopping bill I’ve accumulated. Although it’s really fun to be in the center of all the action in a city, it can be a little frightening too… Cities are so exciting, but they’re also dangerous places. I recently waited at a bus stop that I go to very often, and in broad daylight this stranger came up to me. He started saying things that made me feel very uncomfortable and unsafe. When these situations arise, as they often do in large cities and even on my college campus, you need to have a plan to keep yourself safe.
When I was approached, the first thing I did was I tried to get away from that awkward encounter. I ran into the nearest open public business where there were several people. I told them what had happened, and they were extremely accomodating and friendly. Two people even offered to wait at the bus stop with me. Going into the nearest business is a great option to get to a secure environment with a lot of people around. Another trick you can use if there are many people around is by yelling “fire!” as loud as possible. It’ll capture the attention of anyone nearby easily.
If your encounter does not happen during a time when shops are open, however, you have to think of an alternative plan. I always carry pepper spray on me on a keychain and always walk to my car or to my house or apartment with keys in hand. They can be used for self-defense. In addition, you can often get an alarm that will make a loud noise and scare away your attacker. Many gyms and community centers also hold self-defense classes that can help you feel prepared if you ever feel unsafe in any situation. If you live alone, always yell “Mom, I’m home!” when coming into your apartment, and make sure to look behind you in case anyone is following you. If you park in a parking garage, always check to see if there is someone sitting in any of the cars near yours. If so, have an attendant escort you to your car. Never be afraid to ask for help. Most people are more than happy to make you feel safe.
With all of these preventative measures in place, it’s easy to feel a bit paranoid and afraid while walking outside. However, it’s important to keep in mind the idea that no one and nothing should ever make you feel like a victim. The steps and measures I’m telling you about are to prevent incidents from happening, not to make you afraid of your surroundings. It is terrible that we live in a world where women have to feel scared at going out alone at night, but until every creep and loser is gone from this world, we have to have an action plan. Learning these steps will only make you feel stronger and ready to face whatever may come your way.