By The Lifestyle Guy
With so much “sensationalised” media coverage nowadays concerning “street crime” and particular “teenage knife culture” and attacks against individuals, it’s no surprise that there is a certain amount of justified fear and paranoia surrounding personal safety. The truth is that violent crime against individuals are indeed very rare but there is a real fear that you or one of your loved one’s will be attacked and the way to “combat” this fear is by taking sensible and commonsense precautions that most people already do almost without realising it and making them ingrained as part of your everyday life, it’s just something that you do automatically.
In all my talks and presentations that I do I’m nearly always asked the same thing and in this article I’ll cover which I think are ten of the most “popular” and most frequently asked questions.
1. Body Language: 55% of any message we give out is “unconscious” and we are constantly giving out these signals on a regular and daily basis and other people are “reading” our body language all the time. If you constantly walk around in a “slouched” position, head low and generally not paying much attention to your surroundings, what kind of signal do you think you’re sending out?That’s right, “come and get me” I know that sounds harsh but is fact, if you’re walking down the street oblivious to everything apart from your mobile telephone or busy texting as you’re walking along you’re a target.Try to be aware at all times, stand erect, walk straight, don’t necessarily look people straight in the eyes but let them know that you know that they are there. Try not to take isolated shortcuts no matter how tempting across waste ground, dark alleys or parks and try to stay in public view. Pay attention!
2. Personal attack alarm: Buy one and if possible go on a course and learn how to use it. There’s no point having one if it’s kept at the bottom of your handbag and you have to search to locate it. It’s not going to stop you being attacked but it can help to disorientate or distract your assailant buying you those precious seconds to get to a place of safety. Once it goes off don’t think that anyone will to help you, most people just don’t do that but the sound of the alarm going off will serve a double purpose. One, As stated previously, it will deter or distract your assailant, two, it will also generate a terrific noise so that even if no one comes to your aid at least you’ve created a “stage” for yourself and people will look so you won’t feel as alone.
3. Voice: Don’t be afraid to use your voice, it’s one of your most potent weapons! An assailant is looking for a “victim” an easy target, someone to be intimidated. Use your voice forcefully and don’t be afraid to scream and shout (in fact in my presentations I wholeheartedly endorse the use of “profanity” or swear words) as this will again serve to highlight your plight! How many times have you walked down the street and either stopped or slowed down if someone is having a “right old barney” in the street.
4. Personal possessions: You’re Mum and dad have probably told you a million times about carrying all your valuables in your handbag or in one place, don’t! The amount of ladies I see and meet in beautifully tailored and fitted suits and yet they don’t have a single usable pocket! Try to distribute your goods about you, remember, if your handbag gets snatched your entire life is literally in there. Purse, credit cards, keys to your home, probably mobile telephone, which is then a “double whammy” because you’re now unable to make any calls and chances are you have no change because it’s all in your handbag as well. Worse still, if you do keep everything in your handbag what’s to stop your assailant rushing straight around to your home because chances are that you’ll have something in there with your address (like a driving licence) and ransacking your home as well “triple whammy” and then perhaps finding your car keys and taking that as well “quadruple whammy”. Find a way to distribute your belongings it makes sense and finally if there is no way out don’t be hero, simply hand over your bag immediately using strong body language and disengage from the situation forcefully if necessary. Goods can always be replaced, you can’t!
5. Mobile telephones: Have your mobile telephone security marked with your office address, it might not stop your mobile being stolen but if it does get recovered at a later date it will help the police to know where it came from and perhaps break up a bigger gang who are selling these telephones off. Do you know your IMEI number and what it is and does. It’s the long number underneath your battery and if call your service provider they will be able to disable your SIM card and prevent that mobile from being used. Have it on silent if you are in a secluded area and be especially wary when coming out of the underground as this is where most mobiles are stolen from as they tend to “bleep” when you come out and get a signal. Try not to walk around texting with your head down or crossing a busy road. If you need to text stand with your back against a wall or at least pay attention to your surroundings.
6. Walking: When walking try to walk with the traffic coming towards you. Why? Simple, if you get accosted by someone in a car you can see them coming, they also have to talk to you through the passenger car window if they are by themselves. If they have someone with them, you will at least see them coming and be able to prepare yourself to deal with the situation. If you feel threatened don’t be afraid to scream and shout and if you have one, set off your personal attack alarm. Don’t stand on the spot but run to a place of safety as soon as you can and remember they will have to turn the car around to follow you, again buying you those precious seconds.
7. Being followed: If you think you’re being followed it’s very important not to panic. What happens when you panic? Chemicals get released in your body, cortisol, adrenaline, you can’t think straight! STOP! Have a procedure in place that you can follow, this will serve to calm you and help you to think clearly. Acknowledge with a sidelong glance that you know you’re being followed, use strong and positive body language and even if you are not familiar with your surroundings, act as though you are. Cross the road once, if they follow it could be coincidence, don’t panic. Cross a second time still maintaining good body language, if they follow again it’s fairly certain that you are being followed, don’t panic. Get to a place of safety as soon a s you can, a garage, a shop approach a group of people or perhaps even knock on someone’s door and ask them to stay with you while you telephone for help.
8. Parking: When you park your car try to always reverse park it so that you are always facing forwards and are therefore able to see anyone suspicious coming towards you. If you drive in forwards like most people do you immediately make yourself vulnerable by having your back to a potential situation. If you do see someone coming towards you, close and lock your doors and close your windows if they are open. If necessary drive off, no one is going to stand in front of a moving car and get to a place of safety as soon as you can and always report incidents like this to the police.
9. Public transport: If you feel threatened on public transport get to a place of safety immediately. Either change carriages or go and sit next to the guard if there is one or if you can sit with a group of people or a family and explain to them that you feel threatened. If you feel secure enough get off at a very public stop and if you really do feel there is no alternative don’t be afraid to pull the communication chord and If you should find yourself unavoidably at lonely bus stops or on quiet platforms always sit or stand in a well lit area and preferable next to the green intercoms that most stations have nowadays. On buses always sit in an aisle seat that way you can’t be hemmed in and always try to sit behind the driver as all buses now have two way radios and help can be summoned very quickly.
10. Drinks: If you are on a night out, again do not take your safety for granted. Always plan a way home even when you’re with friends. Date rape is becoming more prevalent and drugs are very easy to slip into someone’s drink and are practically undetectable. Always have a nominated drinks watcher even when you go to the loo and never leave your drink unattended. If you do accept a drink from a stranger be very wary (drink testing kits are now easily available and very easy to use) and it only takes a second to test. If you do find yourself feeling suddenly very strange or perhaps drowsy, under no circumstances leave the establishment with someone you have just met only accept help from a friend or a member of staff. Get to a place of safety as soon as possible. Remember, friends can watch out for each other.
In closing I would just like to reiterate that violent crime and the chances of being a victim of violent crime are extremely low, don’t get paranoid and don’t get sucked into the media circus that crime is rife. Take sensible precautions and make “personal awareness” part of your everyday life. Be happy, enjoy life but most of all stay safe!
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