Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Personal Safety Is Not Paranoia

Personal safety is something that I take very, very seriously. Many people, I find, do not construct plans for personal safety or even think about it. I have heard people say they do not wish to seem paranoid or "like a weirdo." These are apparent excuses for keeping yourself from getting attacked. I have one question: why make excuses for that? What's wrong with not wanting to be part of a statistic? What's wrong with shooting first and asking later, so to speak?That's my policy. Okay, I probably could not actually bring myself to shoot somebody. My plan is more like this: run first, don't ask questions later because you'll never have the chance to ask questions. This is a post, mainly geared toward my female audience because when it comes to violent crimes, women fall victim to them more often than men. Learning to protect yourself is not as tough as it might seem and there is no excuse for a safety plan.

I suppose a proper analysis of the problem is in order. I've heard a lot of excuses about personal safety issues, excuses that I really don't like to hear. When it comes to safety, there is no reason to be embarrassed by an awareness of the risks. In detail, the excuses I have heard constitute pure stupidity, a wish to avoid seeming paranoid and denial from the woman that she is attractive (I'm not kidding). I once cautioned a friend about running in a relatively bad neighborhood in the early morning with a walkman and headset. I just thought that it was not a good idea to do that while unable to be completely alert. My friend told me that she was flabby and nobody would bother her. All I could think was that rapists are not looking for the most attractive woman, they're looking for the easiest victim. The "I don't wanna seem paranoid" one gets old as well. I'm not suggesting you shake like a leaf everywhere you go and look like you're about to have a seizure or something. There is nothing wrong with contemplating every situation from a personal safety standpoint. You do not have to be obsessed to have a plan of action.

Speaking of plans, here are some pointers. First of all, it is important to have a plan before a potentially dangerous situation arises. I'm small, so I think my best asset is that I can run really, freaking fast and I have practiced yelling. So, running and yelling is one of my plans. You cannot yell, "Help!" because no one pays attention to that. Yell either "Fire!" or "Terrorist!" (they both work, I'm told). There is nothing wrong with yelling and running if you happen to be in an isolated area and notice someone coming toward you. Follow you're intuition, don't overanalyze. Of course, this might not be your plan. It's just an example.

Next, it is important to make a plan to prevent an actual attack. I believe that it is easier to prevent an attack then it is to escape harm once an attack has occurred. Thus, I take preventative measures. Basically, appear alert. Don't walk in many isolated areas and don't walk extremely close to buildings. Look around you while you walk. Don't walk with your head down. Walk tall, head up, looking the world in the face. When someone looks you in the eye do not look down immediately, that is a sign of submission to a would be antagonist. Look the person in the eye and then look sideways. If someone randomly greets you then greet him in reply -- even if you do not know who the person is. A greeting tells the person that you know he is there, if you say nothing, you appear unaware of your surroundings and make yourself an easier target.

Basically, you must not think like a victim and you must not make yourself a target. An appearance of confidence can go a long way. I do not understand why some women will avoid running as long as possible. Going for walks by oneself with no apparent notice of where you are walking is also a bad idea. Pay attention, even if you're deep in thought! It could save your life.

I don't know how to say this nicely, so I'm just not going to. It seems that women who live through violent crimes are more likely to be the victim of another one. You know, get counseling and learn personal safety. I will never say that someone is asking to be victimized, but you must realize that something you're doing might not be helping you to avoid bad situations. Rethink your attitude on personal safety. And remember, it is better to look like a fool than to end up as part of a sad statistic.


Tracy said...

Excellent post!

Personally I make this a personal habit to know of my surroundings and identify possible dangers. I don't apologize for it and it has already saved me from harm.

When in a room or public place, I never have my back to an entrance. I want to know what's going on around me.

Hope your summer is starting off well.

little-cicero said...

Not to inspire paranoia, but I do find it odd that you're writing this while on the WWW. Isn't being published for the world to see a constant security concern for you? Do you actually publish your real name?

My name was sent to a couple of bloggers because it was on my e-mail setting, so that often causes me concern.

Esther said...

LC: If I don't do anything stupid on the web then I think I'll be okay. Here, others can read it and learn. That's all.

As for my real name, I intend to be a published author. Why should I care if my first name is here? I don't have a link to my email, that's cause I don't want just anybody emailing me.

Tracy: Thanks for the compliments! My summer's going good so far.

Mel Chickk said...

Well said! You brought up a lot of good points.

Xana Ender said...

Yeah, I remember feeling stupid when I told a female friend of mine that women who talk in cars on cell phones while the car is just sitting there are at huge risk of being attacked. It's easy to get at them and they are distracted.

little-cicero said...

Have you considered getting a free yahoo alternative e-mail like mine?