The United States has seen interesting trends related to violence and assault over the past few decades. While statistics have shown that violent crimes were at an extreme rate back in the 1980s, they seemingly peaked in the early 90s. Since then, reported violent crime has dramatically decreased. But while statistics have shown an overall decrease, assaults are still higher than they should be.
This remains true for sexual assaults, too, with an American citizen being sexually assaulted every 73 seconds. The unfortunate truth is that women tend to be the most common target for sexual assaults, with 90% of sexual assault cases involving a woman—of any age—as the primary target. Until this changes, it’s the sad reality that women should be well prepared with a mace canister if an attacker ever tries to assault or kidnap them.
For a young woman, this can be a scary thing to learn—to know that you may be targeted at some point in your life. You might even be wondering, due to a swath of local and national stories, whether the means of protection can even take care of you when attempting to report an assault.
Before going any further, you should remember that you are not at fault if you are ever targeted as a victim of violent or sexual assault. The choices you make in life shouldn’t mean you’re deserving of blame for an aggressor’s bad-faith decision and action; however, as a young woman, you should know that these statistics don’t have to turn into a reality for you—with the right preparation, you can take the necessary steps to protect yourself against potential violent and sexual assaults.
Wherever you are, whether out on the town with your girlfriends or walking around campus late at night, you should remain aware of where you are, who’s around you, and what you can do to protect yourself. There are various methods that can be employed to improve your level of protection, from carrying a self-defense weapon to utilizing female self-protection knowledge, and they can help to keep you safe even under the most stressful conditions. So, how do you remain safe on a daily basis as a young woman? Here are some tips to keep you safe, wherever you are.
Carry Self-Defense Weapons
To improve your overall safety, you should carry a self-defense weapon on you wherever you go. Prior to considering any of the following options, take the time to learn how to properly use whatever weapon you choose. Furthermore, look for weapons that can be easily carried and stored on your person, whether that is in a bag, purse, or pocket. Here are some favorite self-defense devices among women:
- Stun Gun Flashlight: Able to shock and illuminate assailants, this makes for a great option to protect yourself from an aggressor, all with added intimidation.
- Pepper Spray: Deployable from a distance and easy to wield, you can keep yourself safe without having to interact with your attacker directly.
Rely on Reliable Transportation
Never rely on rides from strangers. Whenever possible, commute with fellow friends, whether by piling into a car, bus, train, Uber, or Lyft.
Stay in Public Spaces
Isolation is a criminal’s best friend, whether for committing crimes or looking for victims. Avoid areas where you can become isolated and targeted with ease, including stairwells, parking garages, and walking paths. This is especially true during the early morning and night, where the veil of darkness can be used to a criminal’s advantage.
Use the Buddy System
Walking to a friend’s house party during the evening or heading out on an early-morning run? You should always have a friend or a group of friends by your side to make you less of a target. If you can’t get a group of friends to join you traveling to the library at night or during that pre-class workout, consider going midday to increase your protection.
Keep Your Head on a Swivel
While out in public, you should keep your wits about you. Don’t get lost in your phone while walking through the city; don’t allow yourself to become distracted within large crowds where you might be targeted for a pickpocketing incident. It’s better to remain aware of your surroundings, whether out in the woods or wandering throughout the city.
Avoid Unhealthy Romantic Relationships
Everyone makes poor romantic decisions when we’re younger. Sometimes when we fall head over heels for someone, we lose sight of relationship red flags that should be avoided at all costs.
One of the best ways to steer clear of danger is to avoid relationships that show obvious signs of abuse. Whether your partner is emotionally abusive, financially abusive, obsessive, or manipulative, you have no obligation to remain in that relationship—whatever they might attempt to convince you of. If you or someone you know is in such a situation, ensure that help is received.
Finding that you have someone regularly following you on your daily walks? Worried about someone with stalking characteristics? Beyond reaching out to the police for protection, you should regularly change where and when you walk every day. Take different routes when possible so you don’t end up on anyone’s radar. Moreover, walk through areas that are well-lit and which are populated—don’t pass through extremely rural neighborhoods where few people live, as you want others around.
Remain Wary of Strangers
Aggressors and criminals often use sympathy to lure in kind-hearted people to turn them into victims. While you should always remain empathetic of others, listen to your instincts and trust them. Sometimes someone asking for help might be doing so for nefarious reasons. Rather than taking your chances, read the situation before you offer them any help. And, if you feel compelled to help, do so where someone else is involved, finding another trustworthy person to remain with you so as not to be left alone with said stranger.
Keep a Cool Head
Whatever public situation you find yourself stuck in, keep your cool. De-escalate tense situations whenever they arise.