The news is full of stories about the victimization of women by attackers known and unknown to them. There is also much talk these days about more and more women purchasing firearms for home use, obtaining concealed-carry firearm permits, taking self-defense classes, and becoming familiar with other means of personal protection such as knives, tactical pens, mace and pepper spray.
These methods of personal protection are effective, but require training and skills taught by certified instructors. Practice is necessary to maintain skill and confidence in the use of these protection methods and devices, which can empower a woman to take action if attacked or approached by an aggressor. They should not be discouraged. But there are many common sense ways to avoid being put in such a position in the first place.
When You’re Out and About
First and foremost, we recommend that women (and men) always maintain full awareness of their surroundings. A woman's power of intuition can be alive and well in these circumstances. If it doesn't seem like a good situation, it probably is not. A cell phone can be helpful by giving you immediate access to emergency phone numbers and a camera; however, it can also make you vulnerable to attack. In our busy world, it is easy to walk around with your head down and your eyes focused on a cell phone screen. That can be a dangerous move. Eyes and ears need to be focused on the situation around you.
When You’re Traveling
When traveling alone, especially at night, you should keep your car doors locked and park your car in well-lit, well-traveled areas. It’s also important to remember that the shortest driving and walking distance between two points may not be the safest route, even during daylight hours. If you must travel alone, always make sure someone knows where you are going, as well as your arrival and departure times. Better yet, travel with a group; there is usually safety in numbers.
When You’re at Home
While at home, always keep doors and ground floor windows locked, even during the day. It is important to keep car doors locked also. How many of us gain entry to our homes by using the garage door opener that’s clipped to the sun visor in our car? An unlocked car door could give an intruder access to your home using that same garage door opener. Keep valuables in your car out of sight, and secure valuables in your home. Prescription drugs should be secured, too.
A home security system can always provide piece of mind but should not be the substitute for common sense.
We advise women to create a plan for what they’d do if an intruder gained access to their home. This will likely never happen, but planning ahead creates peace of mind. You should designate a meeting or hiding place for you and your family in the event of an emergency. An innocuous family "code word" can alert family members to gather or warn them of danger. Family emergency plans should be rehearsed. If you plan on protecting your home with a firearm, take care to keep it locked in a safe place away from children and guests. For safety’s sake, we recommend that you receive training in home protection from reputable and certified instructors. They can help you refine your skills and build your confidence in your ability to protect yourself and your family.
When Using Social Media
Take care to limit public access to your personal information on social media. Most importantly, turn off location settings that publish your location. Never alert people to the fact that you are not at home. Your pictures of events and travels can always be enjoyed by friends and family after the fact.
These are just some of the ways women can protect themselves and avoid becoming victims. The key things to remember are to use your common sense, and prepare, train and practice for what you hope never happens.
Holly Grange is the Director of Community Relations at Osprey Global Solutions and is a firearms instructor for Osprey Armament. She is a certified NRA instructor in Basic Pistol, Basic Rifle, and Personal Protection in the Home and is certified by the North Carolina Department of Justice as a Concealed Carry Handgun Instructor. She is a 15-year U.S. Army veteran, an attorney and a licensed real estate broker.