According to ABC news, 1.9 million women in the United States are physically assaulted every year and 15 to 25 percent of all American women will report a sexual assault or rape at some time in their lives. A report from the website, Feminist.com indicates 17.6% of women in the US have survived an attempted or completed sexual assault. Women today are much busier than at times in the past. Many are managing a job, a family, and school all at once. Being so busy can cause women to be in a hurry and less attentive to their surroundings. Women are also more likely to be distracted by tending to young children. This tendency to be distracted can lead to far greater risk of being attacked or robbed.
Why are women chosen as targets? Women are generally not as physically strong as men. They are often victimized because they are perceived as being an easy target. There is also a perception women are more likely to be compliant when faced with a robbery or assault. Protecting yourself is not as difficult as you might think. Observing a few key safety practices will greatly reduce your chances of being a victim.
Here are a few tips to help keep you safe:
- Do not talk on your cell phone until you are parked
- Keep your doors locked at all times
- Never open your window or door to a stranger
- Keep enough gas in your tank to avoid running out
- Have a roadside assistance plan
- Park in a well lit area as close as possible to your destination
- Keep your vehicle well maintained to avoid break downs
- Tell someone you trust where you plan to go and when you should be back
- Have your keys out and ready before you get to your car
- Never set your purse down on the ground or on top of your car
- Be observant and aware of your surroundings
- If you put your purse in a cart, make sure it is closed and stay within arms reach
- Wear comfortable clothes that would allow you to run if necessary
- Never set your checkbook or wallet down on a counter
- Be alert for attempts to distract you
- Use a shopping cart as a barrier between you and a potential attacker
Some general tips;
- Avoid being alone in public when you have been drinking
- Go out with trusted friends instead of alone
- Never let a stranger “help you to your car”, especially if you have been drinking
- Only use ATM machines that are in a well lit area that offers no hiding places
- Have your ATM card out and ready before you approach the ATM
- If using public transportation, sit close to the driver
- If you use a taxi, have the number of a reputable taxi service ahead of time
- If you are being followed do not go home, go to a place where there are people
- If you are robbed, throw your wallet or purse and run in the other direction
- If you are grabbed or attacked, your elbows are a good weapon
- Always report an attack to the police and give as much detail as possible
The thought of being attacked is scary. There are many people out there who will readily take advantage of others if given the opportunity. If you take time to plan ahead and be prepared you can avoid most problems. By following some simple steps, you can greatly decrease the likelihood of being a victim.
Community Service Officer John Thomas is a long time resident of Temecula and is a Crime Prevention Officer with the Temecula Police Department Crime Prevention Unit. He can be reached at (951) 506-5132.