While in Baltimore a few weekends ago, I was approached by two strange men. They initiated a conversation that made me extremely uncomfortable. I walked away but they followed me into a nearby Barnes & Noble. Nothing happened, but because of the way in which I handled the situation, something could have.
I made a lot of mistakes because I thought they were nice, polite and well dressed… so in an attempt to remind myself (and others) of the basic safety measures one needs to take when they feel wary, this post is being written.
Now, five tips to remain safe in situations that present danger… for your well-being and mine.
1. Trust your gut.
It’s cliché but it is there for a reason, and more times than not, it is right. Listen to your instincts. When you feel that little voice telling you: walk run away, yell for help, or fight… listen to it. It may be that small act that saves you from big consequences later on down the road.
2. Your elders don’t always need respect.
Yes, hold the door for the person behind you. Yes, say please and thank you. Yes, give up your seat if you see someone in more need of it than you. No, do not answer any questions about your age; what do they need that information for? No, do not let them know where you are from, or if you are new to the area; they’re not a tour guide. No, you don’t need to formally say goodbye; if you don’t feel comfortable, you walking away is enough.
3. Be aware of your surroundings.
This is a given… pay attention to who and what is around you at all (italicize all) times; but this tip is of even more importance if you’ve just walked away from your stranger. Don’t assume that they have just turned the other way or are in the same place they were a few seconds ago. Stalkers don’t only exist in movies.
4. Don’t hesitate to call a friend or family member.
You are never too old for help, especially in a situation where you feel you could potentially be in danger. Calling a friend or family to discuss what is happening, or what happened, can help keep you safe. Describe the individuals, and situation, sparing no detail. This information can be used later on should something happen. That call can also keep you calm, and collected, until you arrive safely at your destination.
5. Fire, Pinky, Foot, Groin, Back, Run.
If it becomes necessary to fight back: Scream fire (to grab people’s attention; help doesn’t usually do the trick).If you are being grabbed, pull the pinky up and away from the hand; stomp on the foot where the shoelaces are (or should be); kick as hard as you can in the groin (this works for women as well); and slam your elbow into the assailant’s back; then run like the ground is falling out from behind you.
Once again, do not ever be afraid to hurt someone’s feelings if you feel unsafe.
Feelings are fallible, and mendable, a lost life isn’t.