Personal safety is an urgent concern for every woman


November 01, 1992|By Niki Scott | Niki Scott,Universal Press Syndicate

A state trooper wrote from Oklahoma this week to ask, "Wh don't you set down the basic rules that can help keep women safe from being mugged, assaulted, robbed or raped?

"You've probably written about this in the past, but I have a kid sister who's out on her own for the first time and a mother who's been working and taking care of herself for so long, she's gotten careless," he wrote.

"They're both at risk, although for different reasons. They won't listen to me, but maybe they -- and women like them -- will listen to you."

Here are 12 precautions that will lower your chances of being one of the people who every 17 seconds is assaulted, robbed, raped, molested or murdered in this country:

* Take responsibility for your own safety. There's nothing timid or neurotic about this attitude.

* Be aware. Who's walking behind you, beside you? Who's in the elevator you're about to enter? Are you crossing dark alleys, walking down poorly lit streets?

* Pay attention to how you feel in any situation. If you feel uncomfortable or uneasy, don't question, analyze, edit or deny these feelings. Take action -- immediately!

* Stop being afraid of causing a scene. An infuriatingly large number of crimes against women occur because we'd still rather sacrifice ourselves than run the risk that we'll cause a scene.

* Take decisive action immediately if you feel uneasy. Get to a safe place. Let the elevator with the suspicious character in it go without you. Go back to the building you just left and ask for an escort. Leave your apartment building hallway and ask the doorman, superintendent or janitor to accompany you to your door.

* Don't walk or jog alone at night. If you must walk alone, do so only on well-lit, busy streets and on the outer part of the sidewalk, away from buildings and alleys. Walk facing oncoming traffic, as well, so no car can approach you from behind.

* If your car breaks down, pull off the road and raise your hood; then get back in your car, lock your doors, turn on your hazard lights and wait for the police to come. If a stranger stops to offer help, don't get out of your car. Simply ask him (through a crack in your closed window) to call the police.

* In parking lots and garages, don't hesitate to ask an attendant to keep an eye on you until you reach the safety of your building or car. If the lot or garage is unsupervised, park as close to the street or building exit as you can.

* Have your car keys in your hand before you reach your car. Check the back of your vehicle before you get in and always lock your door as soon as you get in.

* Instruct hotel and motel personnel not to give your room number to anyone, and never take the chain lock off your door if you're uneasy about the person on the other side of it. Request that he or she leave the room service cart, fresh towels outside while you call the front desk to verify his or her identity.

* Look self-confident. Studies show that women who walk with a firm, easy stride are less likely to be the victims of crimes than those who appear to be timid or frightened.

* Finally, if the worst happens and you are confronted by a would-be assailant, try to present the image that you are calm and in control. And if the attacker's purpose is robbery, don't argue.

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