You don’t have to be a martial arts master to take care of yourself in the street. Of course it helps if you are, but even if you''ve never done martial arts you can take steps to ensure your safety. Here are our Top Ten Tips to build safety into your daily routine.
1. Act Confident
Shy, nervous people look like easy targets to prospective attackers. Make your body language assertive and positive: pull your shoulders back and stride out as you walk. We have a saying which goes ‘fake it till you make it’. That means pretend you’re confident even if you are frightened. Confident kids at school are rarely bullied, but they may not be as tough as a kid who looks weak and frail. But potential attackers will choose their victims based on how easy a target they look. So look strong. If you are confronted with someone verbally assaulting you or threatening physical attack it’s important to know how to handle it. If you feel at risk then don’t step back away from them because that is passive behaviour that shows them you are frightened. Instead, step forward assertively and put your point across. Show them you are not to be trifled with and that you are not afraid even though you may be quaking inside. Act like a school teacher who has just found some kids breaking the rules; stern, authoritative and assertive. If you act strong you will keep yourself safe.
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2. Be Alert To Danger
You can be attacked at any time; it will almost always be a surprise to you and if you are daydreaming or not paying attention to your circumstances you can make yourself an easy target. Remember if you are attacked the chances are you have been observed for some time before the attack. It could be minutes or hours and you will always be surprised because that is the job of the attacker: to catch you at your most unawares. We had one of our members recently who was attacked in ‘Toys R Us’ of all places, a children’s toy shop, thankfully she knew what to do, but this is an example that attacks can happen anywhere.
3. Avoid Shortcuts
Avoid dark streets, parks, woods and any where that your common sense tells you could be dangerous. It’s worth taking the long way home if it keeps you safe. Stay in open well populated areas in the lightest part of an area. I would even advise that if you are walking down a quiet street that you could walk on the road, as long as you have time to get out of the way if a car comes along. By walking as far away from the dark edges of a street as possible you make any potential attacker travel a greater distance to get to you and therefore gives you more time to react and protect yourself.
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If Possible, Stay With The Group
Staying in a group of people that you know and trust is the best way to get home safely. You are much safer in a group than you are alone, so even if it takes you out of your way a little, stay with the crowd.
5. Plan Your Routes In Advance
If you are travelling alone to a friends or somewhere similar let someone know what route you will be taking and what time you expect to arrive. Phone them before you set off and if you are delayed phone them to let them know, this way if you are later than expected they will be more alert to take action. If you give a vague time their potential response time to come to your aid may be much delayed.
6. Keep Valuables Out Of Site
Do not display valuables such as jewellery, cash or mobile phones and try to disguise laptops if you carry yours around with you. Displaying your valuables is an invitation for a thief to rob you and be assured they have a plan in mind and an escape route too. Thieves stick to areas they know well so they can snatch your cash and be out of site within moments. If you have to carry something valuable keep it well hidden and make it less accessible.
7. Carry Valuables Away From The Road
If the road is on your right hand side carry your bag or case on your left. Sometimes thieves will drive up beside you on motorcycles with an accomplice on the back who will snatch your bag as they drive past. If your bag is snatched then let it go. Obviously this is a judgement call but you could easily be dragged into oncoming traffic if you try to keep hold of it. Your personal safety is more important than your cash so do the wise thing and let the bag go.
8. Carry An Attack Alarm
These alarms cost only a few pounds and use it if you are confronted. This means you should carry it in your hand if you are walking in a quiet or secluded area. If the alarm has a wrist loop then make sure it is securely fastened to your wrist in case the device is knocked from your hand. You could also carry a rolled up newspaper, umbrella or even a ball point pen in your hand as you walk. Just the act of gripping something gives you extra confidence and if it is a set of keys or a pen it can be also used as a weapon. Now I know some of you will be afraid of hurting someone or the consequences that come with it, but if it’s the choice between being prosecuted for hurting an attacker and actually being hurt by an attacker then I know which I would choose. It’s your call, but being assaulted, injured or even worse leaves more scars than just cuts and bruises. The emotional hurt can last for years and just the act of fighting back can change the dynamic and remove that feeling of helplessness that often comes with being attacked.
9. Beware Of New Found Friends
When you are out on the town and maybe having a drink or two it’s easy to let your guard down. Alcohol reduces your inhibitions anyway and makes it easy to forget that you may be outing yourself in danger. If you meet a new friend by all means exchange numbers, but be very careful about separating from your own friends and going off alone. Not everyone can be trusted and some people will be actively targeting you for robbery or worse. Stay with people you know. Don’t go off with strangers and never go alone into their car or home when you are alone. It’s really common sense.
10. Watch Your Drink
Some people steal drinks in nightclubs and though that’s annoying, its not dangerous. But some people will target you and ‘doctor’ your drink with drugs and other chemicals to get you into a position where they can take advantage of you. Keep your drink with you; don’t put it down where you can’t see it and if you have to leave it to go to the loo or something then hand it to a friend to look after until you get back.