How to stay safe as a woman

By Lauren Kelley
March 22, 2021

Women have to do a lot more than men to stay safe on a daily basis. Do men walk through dark parking lots vigilantly with their keys poking out of their knuckles for self-defense? Probably not. But this is sadly something that many young girls are taught when they start driving.

There is an undeniable stereotype across the world that girls are weak and boys are strong. While it is important to teach young girls that this is not true, it is also important to teach them how to protect themselves when they’re found in an uncomfortable or dangerous situation.

#1. Always be aware of your surroundings

Don’t get caught off guard. If you are fidgeting with your purse or digging for your car keys, this can make you appear unaware of what is going on around you. The same goes for being preoccupied with your phone.  You are more likely to be targeted as a victim if you’re caught off guard.

When you get into a routine of doing things like this, you leave yourself vulnerable to attack or harassment. If you can, try to use the buddy system- always have someone with you, especially at night.

A self-defense key chain including pepper spray, a discreet knife and a personal alarm. Photo by Lauren Kelley

#2. Carry self-defense tools

There are countless tools on the market for self-defense and protection. Pepper spray is the most common for women. Knives and alarms are a good option too. In fact, many companies and small businesses market these tools as “self-defense kits,” where you can get everything you need to feel safe on one key ring.

Even if you don’t feel comfortable using weapons, such as a knife or pepper spray, the personal alarm is a great option because it is extremely loud. All you have to do is pull a little trigger and the alarm will produce a deafening sound. This can deter your attacker.

Additionally, and even more importantly, the alarm can draw attention to you. In a potentially dangerous situation, it is always good to draw attention to yourself so others are able to help you.

#3. Car safety

Don’t jump in your car without checking the backseat. For some reason, as a woman, that seems to be second nature. As is locking your doors as soon as you get inside of your car. In fact, some key fobs have settings that allow you to only unlock your driver’s side door when you press your unlock button. This is a great feature because it doesn’t unlock your entire car and leave you vulnerable.

Key knife (left) and key knuckles (right) used for self-defense. Photo by Lauren Kelley

Carrying your keys pointing out of your knuckles is another good way to stay safe and protected. Model Mugging Self Defense, a well-known training and informational resource, offers an entire section that includes tips on how to most effectively defend yourself using this key protection method. There are certain ways to hold your keys to maximize self-defense.

#4. Educate yourself and trust your gut

Understanding potential risks are an important part of guaranteeing your own safety. You don’t need to feel scared 24/7 to feel safe. However, if something feels wrong, trust your gut. If you get a bad feeling about being somewhere, or you feel like someone following you, always make sure to stay vigilant.

Trying to be around other people in a well-lit area is another great way to stay safe- an attacker is not likely to make a move if there are witnesses around! If someone is making cat-call advances, which is something nearly all women experience throughout their lifetimes, do not feel obligated to respond. Your safety should be your first priority- always.

Now, it’s the boys turn to be educated

Educating girls on how to stay safe is something that should be taken very seriously. Unfortunately, muggings, kidnappings and assaults have become a daily, global occurrence. In fact, 78% of victims who are abducted globally are women and girls.

Even though that is a terrifying rate, girls shouldn’t have to be afraid of boys. Instead, society should instill in boys the proper way to respect girls, and show them what is acceptable and what is not from a young age. “Boys will be boys” is no longer an excuse to terrorize and harass women.

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Lauren Kelley

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