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Guides and Tips
> Protecting Yourself
Fear can be crippling and the appearance of vulnerability can sometimes encourage an assailant. Remember that no one has the right to hurt you and any kind of offense against you should make you angry and indignant. This can give you both physical and mental strength. Anger and assertiveness can also be intimidating to an attacker. Be prepared to physically and psychologically protect yourself. A good way to prepare is to think ahead.
Think through how you usually react to crisis situations. Do you flee, freeze, or fight? Think of a few past examples to see if there is a pattern. You can change how you react by practicing a different response if needed. Talk to others about ways to handle confrontations and rehearse alternatives. There is no right or wrong way to react. Every situation is different. The best response depends on a combination of factors such as the location, the assailant, presence of weapons, your personal responses, etc. Always evaluate your resources and options. Continue to assess the situation as it is occurring. If the first strategy chosen is not working, try another.
Do whatever you feel will result in the least harm to yourself. Your first responsibility is to yourself.
Sexual assault, robbery, purse snatching, and mugging - no one wants to be the victim of such a crime. We all must think about the possibility, but there's no need to be tormented by it. Crimes of violence occur least often. Only a minority of the crimes reported involve a confrontation that could lead to personality injury. In other words, you're much more likely to have your property stolen than your life threatened.
Most crimes are crimes of opportunity. A dangling handbag invites a purse snatcher. An unlocked window invites an intruder. If you eliminate the opportunity, you could avoid the crime.
At night, try to stay on well-lighted streets: avoid doorways, shrubbery, dark shadows near buildings, and other potential hiding places. Carry a flashlight.
Stay away from deserted Laundromats or apartment house laundry rooms, parking lots or ramps at night; be cautious even in the daytime.
Be cautious around elevators; if you are at all suspicious of another passenger, wait for the next car. Stand near the control panel while you ride. If you are threatened or attacked, hit the alarm and as many floor buttons as you can.
While walking or jogging, be aware of your surrounding. Look alert and confident. Make quick eye contact with people around you. Dress so you can walk or run easily to avoid.
If you are being followed by a car, change direction. If followed by a person, turn and look at them. This gives you time to think and lets the person know that you are alert. In either case, walk to the nearest public place.
Have a plan and know what you are going to do if attacked -- resist or appear to cooperate, and look for a chance to escape.
If possible, walk with a friend, use an escort service provided by many businesses or take a bus. If there are few people on board, sit near the driver. Don't fall sleep.
In a cab or friend's vehicle, ask the driver to wait until you signal you are safely inside your house.
When you take out your wallet, don't reveal your money or credit cards.
A woman should carry her handbag next to her body, with the flap or clasp toward her. A man should carry his wallet in an inside or front pocket.
Don't leave or set your purse on the back of the door or on the floor in restrooms, theaters, restaurants, or other public areas. Don't leave your purse open or unattended in a shopping cart. Carry your keys in your coat pocket.
In your car
While walking to your car, have your door key ready in your hand as you approach. Before getting into your car, glance into the back seat and floor for someone hiding there. Get into your vehicle and lock the door behind you before setting yourself and your packages.
Look for a well-lighted parking place and lock your car -- even if you are just running into the store for a minute. Never leave your purse in your car and place your briefcase out of sight or in the trunk.
If you must leave your key with a parking attendant or service garage, leave only your car key, never the keys to your house. These can be duplicated while you're gone.
Keep your doors locked and windows rolled up most of the way, especially while in heavy traffic. Keep your purse out of sight.
If someone tries to break into your car, honk your horn repeatedly and try to drive away if you can.
If you are being followed, don't drive directly home. Drive to the nearest 24-hour police or fire station, hospital emergency entrance, all-night restaurant gas station or other place where there are people.
You should not travel, especially at night, when you know you have car trouble or are low on gas.
If your vehicle does fail, turn on your emergency flashers, raise the hood and hang a handkerchief from your window to attract attention or use a 'call police' sign in the windshield. If someone stops, stay in your vehicle and ask them to call for police assistance.
Don't leave mail or packages with labels listing your name and home address in view inside your car. Don't leave your work ID attached to your purse strap.
Anyone living alone should use only their first initial and last name in the phone book and on the mailbox. Don't be tempted to list information about your children or your employment in any directory.
When changing addresses, change your locks, too. Install a deadbolt lock and a high security strike plate as well as a peephole. Don't leave keys hidden outside. They're too easily found.
If you suspect your home has been broken into, immediately call 911 from a neighbor's home. Don't go inside and risk confronting the burglar or destroying evidence.
Never allow a stranger access to your home to use the phone -- even if they claim it's an emergency. Speak to them through your locked door and offer to make the call for them.
Always check the ID of any trades people, sales representatives, police officers or other professionals who wish to come inside your home.
Report unusual, suspicious or obscene phone calls to the police and the phone company.
Instruct children and baby-sitters not to give out any information who is home, who is out or for how long.
Always lock your doors, draw your shades at night and leave a few interior and exterior light one. Timers are also a good idea.
Windows on the first floor of a house left open while you sleep, or on any floor of an apartment with balconies, should be secured in place to allow only a six inch opening.
Invite a friend or neighbor to visit on the telephone when a repair person is in your home.
Being selective about new acquaintances can help to prevent you from being a victim of a forced sexual encounter, sometimes referred to as a "date rape."
If a robber demands your valuables, give them up! Your money or jewelry is not worth risking injury or your life.
Carrying a gun or any weapon is not a good idea. It can easily be used against you.
If you are confronted by an attacker, especially one with a weapon, stay calm. Evaluate the situation and look for a chance to escape. Think about your options.
If you are going to fight back, don't hesitate to mark your assailant with bites, scratches, or kick. The marks can be helpful in locating and convicting the offender.
While you are waiting for an avenue of escape, look at your attacker -- one feature at a time, and make a mental note of hair, eyes, eyebrows, nose, mustache, mouth, voice, breath, age, scars, etc.
Be vocal, if you can -- shouting, screaming may catch him off guard and is likely to scare him off if there's a chance someone is nearby to hear you.
Don't depend on talking your way out; but, appearing to cooperate with your attacker may give you the time you need to devise a means of escape.
As soon as you can, call the police and write down everything you can remember about your assailant.
Don't change your clothing, bathe or apply any medication. Although this would be your natural reaction, don't do it. You could be destroying physical evidence that will be important in the apprehension and prosecution of your attacker.
If you eliminate the opportunity, you could avoid the crime. Read newspapers and magazines to stay informed of crimes occurring in your area. If possible, take the safest route when walking at night. Keep your home locked when you're not there -- and when you are. Carry your money wisely. If you are threatened, don't panic. Be alert, have a plan, trust your instincts and use your head.
Report ALL crimes or suspicious activities to the police as soon as possible.
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