Home ContentA How-To Guide for Women’s Personal Safety

A How-To Guide for Women’s Personal Safety

Published : May 05, 2017

In an ideal world women would not be at risk of physical harm as they go about their lives. Sadly such a world doesn’t exist; but that doesn’t mean women can’t take measures to feel more secure.

Words: Juanita Pirozzi

It’s important to follow the news about what is going on in the world and in our backyard. However local news about incidents where women are mistreated can be disheartening in terms of how we view our personal safety.

Throughout April 2017 there have been several news stories of violence towards women. No doubt you would have heard about the woman in Secret Harbour, one of Western Australia’s southern suburbs, who was sexually assaulted by two men whilst walking home from the park. The few women in Rockingham, Western Australia who were on the receiving end of some unwelcome physical attention from a teenage boy. Unfortunately mature women are also targeted, like the 73-year-old woman in Mandurah, south of Western Australia, who was beaten by home invaders before they ransacked her house.

Whilst men are just as likely to be victims of attack, the West Australian Police says that four out of five women know who their perpetrators are. With men the chances of their knowing their assailants are half as much.

It is incidents and statistics like these that may make you question leaving the house again. Or in the case of domestic disturbances, perhaps think twice before opening the front door. However there is no need to be in that frame of mind.

Haven’t we been taught that a life without risk is no life at all? Despite the dangers out there, women can go about their business as much as their male counterparts if they are willing to take certain actions to help minimise, and hopefully prevent, any harm inflicted towards them.

The following personal safety precautions are based on recommendations made by the West Australian Police, a hint of personal experience, and good, old-fashioned common sense. Remember you don’t want to be too strict about these measures but you don’t want to be naïve either.

1. Carry a personal alarm.
These are available from websites such as Jaycar Electronics, Personal Security Company, or Neighbourhood Watch Shop and cost $14.95. This is handy for walking alone in public places especially at night. If you find yourself in a dangerous situation e.g. whilst walking to your car from the train station, all you have to do is pull the pin or press the button and the noise alone will fend off the perpetrator/s.

2. Take a self-defence class.
Ask your local gym about their martial arts based fitness classes such as Combat. If you’re not a gym member there are martial arts organisations throughout Perth that specialise in women’s self-defence. If you find this option too extreme then try something simple like lifting hand weights whilst you’re watching TV. This is good for developing your physical strength and enhancing your confidence.

3. Walk in well-lit and busy areas in public.
If you’re going for a night out, walk with a friend or in a group as you venture from the restaurant, or pub, the car, or public transport station. If you must walk alone in public places then carry a form of protection (as suggested in Point 1).

4. Stranger Danger doesn’t just apply to children.
Don’t accept lifts from strangers driving alongside the footpath (no matter how polite they seem). Ask who is at the front door before you open it. If you have a security door, use it as a barrier when talking with people you don’t know. Unfortunately not all salespeople, fundraisers, or well-meaning activists with petitions are who they claim to be.

5. Lock yourself in your car.
Whether you drive alone or with passengers locking the car doors whilst driving reduces the likelihood of a car-jacking.

6. Turn down the volume on your iPod or iPhone when walking or jogging.
Better yet don’t use them in these situations. Increase your responses by keeping your ears open so that you can hear any oncoming vehicles, cyclists ringing their bike bells, or would-be criminals trying to follow you.

7. Follow your gut instinct.
If someone or something doesn’t seem right to you then back away. You can make up an excuse if you have to. It’s all right to meet new people and try new things as long as you feel comfortable and not pressured in any way.

8. Don’t be afraid to speak up.
There’s no need to be nasty as an assertive response can be more effective. Some people can be clever about their indirect approaches towards women. For example if you’re in a nightclub and someone puts their arm around your chair and this makes you uncomfortable then say so in a firm manner. You’ll feel better for standing up for yourself instead of suffering in silence.

Whether you take these safety ideas on board or not is entirely your decision. At the very least be alert and aware of your surroundings. You may find this will not only help you in certain situations but other women as well.

If there was a permanent solution to improving women’s personal safety I would gladly share it with you. Hopefully these tips will be of some practical use for you as you go about your daily life.

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