Women’s Personal Safety in a World of #MeToo
Women’s Personal Safety
The #MeToo movement has sparked attention to the shockingly repetitive stories that many women share of harassment, assault, sexual assault, and other crimes, that often go unreported. The sheer volume of these incidents is staggering and the attention they receive is amazingly low. Since October is known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which often translates to “Women’s Month,” October presents us at AEGIS with a unique opportunity to focus our attention about women’s personal safety.
Why is women’s safety a unique topic?
Just Google “personal safety,” then count the number of articles that appeal to women. They are literally countless! This is because women have been found to be more aware of their surroundings out of socialized fear and anticipation.
In a recent LA Times article titled “9 common-sense safety tips for women who run — and everyone else,” a survey found that 43 percent of female runners experience harassment, a type of safety breach. This is just one statistic of many that get published annually regarding women and personal safety, and it is an issue that should be considered with gravitas.
Take a more severe example: Iowa State. In mid-September, two female Iowa State students were murdered, raising community and campus concerns about safety. The message from the campus was clear that they would do anything to make their students, particularly the women on campus, feel safer. But that promise didn’t extend to the real world for many women who discussed their fears for personal safety in a campus newspaper forum. Insights included tips (never walk alone, call for a safe ride, avoid going out late at night) and tones of hyper-awareness (always know who is around you, keep your phone ready to call for help). Read more here.
In sum, women know that they should be more aware about their surroundings and personal safety. In this blog, we offer tips on how to increase sense of security and physical safety.
Personal Safety Devices
Personal safety is essential for everyone, period. Having just a few basics in your home or on your person can start a positive conversation and encourage action to be alert and stay safe.
- PeakPlus LED Tactical Flashlight: This super bright, high lumen power, water resistant flashlight is top notch for security, home use, outdoor events and emergencies. Get the 2-pack to give one and keep one! Having a flashlight is essential for everyone from those who have a car to others who enjoys evening runs.
- SABRE Red Pepper Gel – Police Strength: Pepper gel doesn’t atomize like your traditional pepper spray, eliminating wind blowback and only affecting what it actually contacts. This particular model has an 18-foot range. Having such a tool is ideal for people who work late or walk to and from places frequently and alone. It also comes with a link to a free training video so your friend or family member knows how to use it. (Security officers are required to have a permit that authorizes them to use pepper spray or other chemical agents on the job. For more information, please visit the BSIS website.)
- MyDeal VisiTRUTH UV Ultraviolet 9 LED Blacklight Pocket Flashlight: Ideal for that friend or relative who handles cash or verifies IDs!
Personal Safety Tips
- As a pedestrian, stay off your phone when crossing streets. Take the childhood lesson of looking both ways before crossing seriously as it increases your situational awareness.
- Follow city park rules regarding hours of operation. Many parks in Los Angeles are open from sunrise to sunset and do not have adequate lighting for an evening jog.
- Avoid walking in dark areas alone. If you can, have a buddy. If you have to be alone, do not stare at your phone. Instead, consider making a phone call so someone knows where you are and can make another call in case of an emergency.
- Carry your phone in your hand so it is visible. This lets others know you have 911 at the tip of your fingers.
- Do not play on your phone or text. Being on a call is a good idea, but only if you are still aware of your surroundings.
- Keep the earbuds out of your ears. Look, listen and pay attention in dark settings.
- Keep your keys visible and in a strong grip if you are approaching your car. You do not want to hold them loosely (they could be stolen that way), but putting a key between two of your fingers in an “attack position” shows you are willing to defend yourself.
- Take lighted paths whenever possible. If a path is not well-lit, avoid it.
- Walk with other people.
Be Aware of Stalkers
Stalker behavior is relatively easy to identify, but it is also easy to blow out of proportion. True stalking behaviors include knowing your schedule and showing up uninvited to places or functions you attend; sending unwanted and excessive mail, e-mail, photos, and gifts; excessively reaching out to you, particularly via phone calls, texts, and social media messages; posting about you unnecessarily or obsessively on social networking sites; damaging or stealing your property; and any other actions intended to contact, harass track or frighten you. Now, if you are in a dispute with an intimate partner that has not led to a complete separation in the relationship, similar signs — seemingly excessive attempts to contact you — are probably not signs of stalking. A true stalker is someone you generally do not desire to be in your life and who may intend to hurt you so as to make you “theirs.” Nonetheless, if you feel you are in danger, you should take steps to ensure your personal safety.
Read more about handling stalkers here.
Home Safety Tips
Whether you live alone or with several others, you should be aware of securing your home to ensure no one gets in without an invitation. Personal safety goes beyond ensuring you are safe from strangers in the park — a burglar in your home could do more damage than you may think.
- Lock windows and doors every time your house is going to be empty OR if you are leaving someone home alone or kids with a babysitter.
- If possible, leave a car in the driveway so it looks like someone is home.
- Install an automatic light system that turns lights on near entrances to the home. If you have a motion-activated light outside the home, be sure to check the batteries and replace them before they potentially fail.
- If you have an alarm, set it every time you plan to leave the house for an extended period of time into the night or through the night.
- When you are leaving and returning home, observe the neighborhood. Note any suspicious vehicles and check-in with neighbors to see if they have noticed anyone strange in the area. It is possible that a new vehicle belongs to a burglar “casing” houses.
- Install a security system that includes cameras. Check out some of our favorites.
If you live in a community, consider hiring a patrol service to ensure your safety, as well as those of your neighbors, is enhanced. Even having a decoy patrol car parked in a highly visible part of the development can deter criminals. AEGIS offers additional patrol services with physical security officers — check us out. Additional safety elements you and your community may want to consider include the following:
- Start a neighborhood watch.
- Check in with neighbors if you suspect there has been a problem with their home safety.
- Inform neighbors if you are having a large gathering that will mean a lot of new cars are parked along the street.
- Inform your city representatives and power company when street lights are not working to have it fixed quickly.
AEGIS Security & Investigations is a Los Angeles region company that is licensed and insured in the State of California to provide high-end armed and unarmed regular and temporary off-duty police officers, bodyguards, security officers, loss prevention agents, and event staff. Additionally, we offer services for private investigation, consultation, people tracing, and background investigation. Our trainings and workshops in the field of security licensure and counter-terrorism have been featured in news media and are renowned for their efficacy. For more information or to contact us, visit www.aegis.com.
By Chelsea Turner & Jeff Zisner