Every two minutes, a sexual assault occurs in this country. Because of that, I’d like to share some guidelines for summer safety. Yes, these tips can apply to both men and women, but I'm concentrating on women because about 9 out of every 10 rape victims are women.
When I was growing up, my dad was an ex-NYPD detective and I didn’t leave the house without having to answer a slew of questions about where I was going, who’d I be with and when I should call to check in. During and after college, every time I moved dorms or apartments in NYC, he would be there checking the windows, exits and fire escapes to be sure that my new home was secure.
As an adult I can see how those little tips (which I thought were annoying at the time) instilled awareness in me regarding my personal safety. Later on, my martial arts training honed this awareness.
1. Be socially smart.
Social media is a great thing if used responsibly, but it can also give a lot of information about your life. Two mistakes I see are:
- Posting pictures of yourself and your location in real time. Post the picture after you have left that location. Not everyone needs to know where you are and where you are not. Stalkers are real and home break-ins occur every 14.5 seconds across the United States.
- I’m directing this to teens and college-aged girls who post provocative pictures of themselves all over the internet. I shudder when I think about where that picture of my niece, of your daughter or of your girlfriend in a bikini posing like a wanna-be super model could end up. Don’t be afraid to tell your teenager that posting provocative pictures online can lead to truly scary things.
2. Be street smart.
Warm summer nights make it so tempting to stay out later and take the long way home. If you’re alone, don’t wander through parks late at night or meander down deserted streets. Walk with your head up, shoulders back and directly from point A to point B. Keep your eyes and ears open. Get off your phone and stay alert at all times whether you’re on the street, on the subway platform, or walking to your car in a parking garage.
3. Learn self-defense.
During my ten years of Hapkido training, I have come to accept the fact that not everyone has the desire to spend as much time as I did learning self-defense. But at the very least, every woman should learn the basics, and the earlier the better.
There are situations you may find yourself in that you cannot rely on your friend, brother, father, husband or even 911. When push comes to shove, you may have to fight for your life. Heck, even the new Miss U.S.A. is a black belt and talked about self-defense training in her speech.
4. Carry a personal alarm or pepper spray.
A personal alarm can work if your potential attacker is scared of being caught. You pull out your personal siren, it's super loud, and hopefully he’ll run away. But what if he doesn’t? Pepper spray is another option, as long as you have it out of your purse and ready to go. Just carrying either one of these items is a reminder that you're thinking about your personal safety. You’re aware, alert and ready to rumble.
5. Join the conversation.
Share your stories with others. It's a great way to provide tips to other women and remind everyone that this is an important issue. We can never take our safety for granted.
Stay strong, safe and sexy!
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