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Safety Tips for Women

Keeping You Safe – Crime Prevention Tips for Women

 

This Sheriff’s message contains very important safety tips for women. I am encouraging women to always utilize this safety information and that men in our community share this information with their female friends, wives, and daughters. It could save a life!

A question for you to consider, just how likely are you to become a victim of crime?  Most of the country's large cities have disturbingly high numbers of violent crime (which include murder, rape, and assault). These violent crimes unfortunately can be found in smaller cities and counties such as St. Francis County.

What do the statistics show about the level of crime in the United States? Last year, there was a violent crime every 22.8 seconds, and an aggravated assault every 37.8 seconds. No matter your gender, age, or location, it is critical that you protect yourself before you become part of these statistics. There were almost five million acts of violence with female victims reported in the United States last year. Three quarters of these women were attacked when alone, and half were attacked by multiple assailants. It is very important that women arm themselves with information to keep from becoming a victim. Because of the rise in attacks in public areas, I am going to focus on safety in those areas for this message.

One of the key preventative measures a woman can have to prevent an attack or enhance their safety is awareness. You must always be aware of your surroundings. For example, when getting into your car in a parking lot - be aware: look around you, look into your car, at the passenger side floor, and in the back seat. If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars. This is also a good reason to park away from big vans.

Look at the car parked on the driver’s side of your vehicle, and the passenger side. If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the store or work, and get a guard/policeman to walk you back out. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY - better paranoid than dead.

Always be alert in parking lots, especially when it's dark. If you are afraid, don't be too shy to ask someone to escort you to your car. Between cars and inside cars, it's easy for someone to hide and wait until a distracted non-alert person comes along.

On the subject of awareness, when you exit a store, work or your vehicle, always look around you to see who is in the area. Don’t fumble in your purse looking for a shopping list and absolutely most importantly, do not talk on your cell phone. These two things alone show that you are obviously distracted. It is important to be alert to who and what is around you. Talking on a cell phone or listening to headphones makes you easy prey for an attacker. The only reason you should be using your mobile phone is notify a friend of your whereabouts or to call for help. Also, limit the number of bundles you have to carry by using a backpack or bag with a shoulder strap. This will ensure that your hands are free to defend yourself.

Use your “sixth sense,” “gut instinct,” or whatever you call it, your intuition is a powerful subconscious insight into situations and people. All of us, especially women, have this gift, but very few people pay attention to it. Learn to trust this power and use it to your full advantage. Avoid a person or a situation which does not “feel” safe–you’re probably right.

Walk confidently by keeping your head up, swinging your arms, standing straight up and make eye contact with those you meet. Do not act or look like an easy target - look confident! Most "fights" are won before they start, and aggressors will back down if you maintain eye contact and are not intimidated by them. Also, by making eye contact you can make a positive identification of a possible attacker.

Always approach your vehicle with the keys ready. Windows should be up and doors locked even when driving to avoid unwanted passengers at intersections. Always check your car before entering and never leave your car unlocked, even for the few minutes it may take you to return a video, buy milk and so forth. Attackers have been known to lie in wait for such an opportunity.

Another thing that you need to be aware of is your handbag. Do not leave your purse in the shopping cart while you are putting your purchases in your vehicle. My suggestion is unlock your car doors, place your purse in the passenger floor board, lock the car doors and then place your purchases in the trunk of the car. This will prevent someone from stealing your handbag while you are focusing on handling your purchases.

Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit (doing their checkbook, or making a list, etc.) DON'T DO THIS! An attacker can be watching you, and this is the perfect occasion for him to get in the passenger side, put a gun to your head, and tell you where to go. AS SOON AS YOU GET INTO YOUR CAR, LOCK THE DOORS AND LEAVE.

Never pull your car over from a quiet road even if someone drives alongside your car pointing at the tires, etc. Always continue driving to a well-lit and crowded area before exiting your car. The problem might be a bluff and the driver wants you to stop at the side of the road to "help" you without a reason.

Women are naturally very sympathetic. Attackers rely on this when trying to lure you into an abduction or possible attack. You must remember that being sympathetic may get you raped, or killed. Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good looking, well-educated man, who always played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often asked "for help" into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when he abducted his next victim. Be aware and always consider an ulterior motive when approached by someone you do not know!

Always remember, you have the right to fight. Unfortunately, no matter how thoroughly you practice awareness and avoidance techniques, you may find yourself in a physical confrontation. Whether or not you have self-defense training, and no matter what your age or physical condition, it is important to understand that you CAN and SHOULD defend yourself physically. You have both the moral and legal right to do so, even if the attacker is only threatening you and hasn’t struck first. Many women worry that they will anger the attacker and get hurt worse if they defend themselves, but statistics clearly show that your odds of survival are far greater if you do fight back. Aim for the eyes first and the groin second. Remember, though, to use the element of surprise to your advantage–strike quickly, and mean business. You may only get one chance.

If you do find yourself in a situation with an attacker it is important to understand that ESCAPE is ALWAYS your best option. What if the unthinkable happens? You are suddenly confronted by an attacker who demands that you go with him–be it in a car, or into an alley, or a building. It would seem sensible to obey, but you must NEVER leave the primary crime scene. You are far more likely to be killed or seriously injured if you go with the attacker than if you run away or struggle (even if he promises not to hurt you). It is important to that you understand that if you are injured in a public area, there is a great chance you could get help from a passerby, however, if you allow a person to take you away, it is very likely you will be killed. Attempt at all cost to run away, yell for help, throw a rock through a store window 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.  

It is important that if you are being attacked, you try anything and everything to get out of the situation and save your life. Additional approaches are offering your wallet; if in the car, jumping out at a stoplight; doing something to cause an accident; or signaling to other drivers. If you are thrown into the trunk of a car, experts advise you to kick out the back tail lights, stick your arm out the hole, and start waving wildly. The driver won't see you but everyone else will. This trick is said to have saved lives.

It is difficult for us to consider that crimes such as these can be committed, but even in communities such as ours, they are beginning to increase. By following these simple safety tips, women can be proactive in their safety. The safety of our citizens is of the upmost importance to us at the St. Francis County Sheriff’s Department. I realize that by enhancing your knowledge and awareness we are working together to keep the citizens of St. Francis County safe.

Please know that I, and my staff, are always available to assist you in any way possible. It is important that you contact law enforcement if you see anything suspicious or are confronted with any of the above situations.

Sheriff Bobby May,

 St. Francis County Sheriff

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