Be your own bodyguard!!!!
The recent kidnap and molestation of a Malayalam actress has shaken entire South India. If this can happen to her, a lady from a socialite group then it can happen to anyone, anywhere and anytime. We always think it happens to someone else but this was right on our face that irrespective of any economic class, women are not safe. We often let our guard down when we are with people we know. Unfortunately, most sexual assaults involve people who know each other. As women, what is it that we ought to learn from such incidents? How can a lady protect herself from such incidents? Let’s take a look at some useful tips to protect ourselves.
Safety Tips for Women in the Public Places:
- If you are stalked on the streets:
o Stare at the stalker straight in the eye. If a stranger realizes that he/she can be identified later, he/she will hesitate to attack you.
o Try to get a photographic or video evidence of your stalker’s actions if possible
o Pretend you’re talking on the phone with your relatives and keep them informed about your current whereabouts.
o If you have a daily walking schedule, change the routes you take.
o If someone in a car stops to ask a question, stay away far enough to escape.
o If you are alone and stalked in a public place, just wave to another stranger, strike a conversation and walk along with them as if they are your friends.
o Enter a shop/mall or a restaurant or hospital if you are stalked.
o If it is night and shops are not open, go inside an ATM . ATM centres always have close circuit television. Fearing identification, no one will dare attack you.
o Carry a pepper spray if you cannot avoid late night travels. Ensure you know how to use it. Pepper sprays are available for INR 200+ at Amazon or Flipkart.
o Change travel times or routes to avoid routine stalking.
o If you are stalked report it! You can speak to your parents, siblings, partners, friends and family about it.
o Walk to your nearby police station and report it. Every police station has a women’s wing. Report it
o Stalkers are cowards. Any such steps taken against them will scare them away.
- If attacked by a stranger in public place –
o Push the stranger away and scream for help. Any noise will deter a stranger.
o Keep your cell phone handy.
o Avoid going alone to the ATM’s at night. You can attract the attention of a robber/harasser.
o Don’t walk in deserted areas, where you must pass alleys, trees, and bushes that create hiding places for someone wanting to do you harm.
o Aim for the eyes first and the groin second – weakest spot this will give you time to escape.
o If you are a witness, gather support of the public and support the victim.
o If you are confronted by someone on the street who demands that you go with him, run away, yell for help, throw a rock through a store or car window–do whatever you can to attract attention. And if the criminal is after your purse or other material items, throw them one way while you run the other.
o If someone is chasing after you, run away in a zig zag pattern.
o Heel Stomp: If you’re being attacked from the back, chances are the attacker has his/her arms around your upper half. Move your foot near the attacker’s, lift your foot up and bring it down on their foot as hard as you can with your shoe/heel. If they let you go run
- While in an auto rickshaw/cab –
o Check for child lock before entering a cab in the night or in desolated place.
o Pass the registration number of the cab to a family member or friend.
o Then use the mobile to call your family or friend and pass on the details to them in the language the driver understands. Even if no one answers your call, pretend you are in a conversation. The driver now knows someone has his details and he will be in serious trouble if anything goes wrong.
o Do not fall asleep. Keep striking a general conversation with the driver or with a family person.
o Avoid discussing personal details or holiday plans with the driver or with anyone else over phone.
o Avoid controversial or political discussions too.
o If the driver turns into a street he is not supposed to and you feel you are entering a danger zone, use the handle of your purse or your stole (dupatta) to wrap around his neck and pull him back. Within seconds, he will feel choked and helpless. In case you don’t have a purse or stole just pull him back by his collar. The top button of his shirt would then do the same trick.
o Use Google maps
- While in a lift –
o If you find yourself alone in the company of a strange male, as you enter a lift in a High Rise apartment late at night and if you need to reach the 13th floor, press all the buttons up to your destination. No one will dare attack you in a lift that stops on every floor.
o Look for queues exclusively for women to buy tickets / to get into the vehicle.
o Stand/Sit with other group of women inside a public transport. Do not stay alone.
o If you think you are being harassed, shout and invite the attention of the fellow passengers.
o If you think police intervention is necessary, silently get down at a place where the vehicle stops near a police patrol / police booth or police station.
o If you have a safety pin /umbrella, use it as an object of self defence against the other person
- While at home –
o Never, ever open your door unless you either are certain you know who’s on the other side.
o In the event that an intruder breaks in while you’re home, you should have a safe room in your house to which you can retreat. Such a room should be equipped with a strong door, deadbolt lock, phone (preferably cell phone), and a can of pepper spray or fire extinguisher.
o If a stranger tries to attack you when you are alone in your house, run into the kitchen. You are the only one who knows where the chilli and turmeric powder are kept. And where the knives and plates are. All these can be turned into deadly weapons. If nothing else, start throwing plates and utensils all over. Let them break.
o Scream… Remember that noise is the greatest enemy of a molester. He does not want to be caught.
o Never keep your house keys in the passage. There are more chances of getting the keys flicked while you are attending to some chore and the person might return later and enter the house using your keys.
o If you have lost your set of house keys get the locks changed.
- While at a workplace-
o Recognize sexual harassment at work. You need to keep your internal radar tuned on to pick up signals that something might be wrong.
o Ignoring the early warning signs that annoying attention might escalate into dangerous harassment and pursuit.
o Keep a record of all events, telephone calls etc., noting as much detail as possible including time and date of incidents.
o Saying a definitive NO, if you are not interested in a relationship helps.
o Confront if you feel safe. (“I am not comfortable with your behaviour since….)
o If you come in contact with a harasser, aim to get away and ideally get into a busy public place.
o If you receive malicious or threatening calls, try to keep calm and show no emotion. Do not answer the phone with anything more than “hello”. Try to record what he talks to you on the phone.
o Do not throwaway unwelcome gifts or letters received. Try to handle them as little as possible and if possible place them in plastic sleeves or envelopes to preserve them.
o You should read any mail you receive in case it contains threats or indecent / offensive language. Do not delete any mail impulsively.
o Try to alter any daily routines, if possible ask friends to accompany you and always try to let someone know what your plans are and when they change.
o Inform work colleagues / managers/ ICC committee/ HR about the harassment so they will be able to support and protect you.
o Be aware of your company policies.
- While travelling:
o If the person at the front desk says your room number loudly, ask them to give you a new room and write the number on a piece of paper. Your room number should be your business only.
o Before entering your hotel room, make sure no one is lingering in the hallway.
o Always immediately lock your hotel room door after you enter. Use latches preferably.
o When travelling, do not walk with the map in your hand. It is a dead giveaway that you are a tourist. Therefore, you are an easy target.
o If you call for room service, and you get a knock on your door, do not immediately open. Ask: “Who is it?” Make the person on the other side of the door tell you who they are before you open it.
o When asking for directions and someone offers to show you the way by having you follow them, do not go. Just ask for them to point you in the right direction.
o Always pour your own drink at a party and bring it with you everywhere
o Watch the bartender as he or she pours your drink. To be extra safe, drink wine instead of a cocktail.
o When going out with your girlfriends, decide beforehand that you will stick together. Do not let your friend go off alone with a guy.
o Don’t check-in on Foursquare or Facebook when you arrive somewhere. Instead, check in as you leave. This way no one will be able to digitally stalk you and know your every move or when you’re not home
o When you move into a new place, check your smoke detector for a hidden camera. Your landlord could be spying on you.
o You don’t have to be fluent in another language to visit that country, but knowing a few key phrases is quite helpful in understanding what is going on around you. It will also allow you to ask for help and get a rapid response.
Most incidents happen when you are fearful, when perpetrators think you are weak. Work on yourself and build your confidence. Be aware of your surroundings. You may not remember all these tips during an incident that may happen to you. But, if you remember even one tip during such a time, it will give you confidence to boldly confront. Stay Alert and Stay Safe!! Live Fearless.