The world can seem a dangerous place, and when you’re alone in the dark, it’s easy to become scared or nervous. But, truthfully, it’s not quite as bad as Hollywood makes out: some simple self-defenses tips could save your life.
In this article, I’ll be going over 19 tips that can help you be safer and more confident in any situation.
1. Be aware of your surroundings and make sure you’re not putting yourself in any danger.
Find out where the safest routes are to walk, and stick to them — try to avoid alleyways or poorly lit streets whenever possible. If you do have to go down one of these streets, always try to travel with a friend or group of friends. This way, if anything happens, there’ll be someone else around that can help you out.
2. If you’re ever walking home late at night, try to always walk with a friend or group of friends.
If you don’t have anyone else to walk with, make sure you call someone when you get somewhere safe or try to call them from a public phone while you’re still outside — this way, they know that although it may take you longer than expected to get home, you haven’t been mugged or anything along those lines.
3. Push yourself if possible
— i.e., shout if you see someone who looks and sounds threatening.
When you’re forced to scream for help, you’ve given them the impression that you’re not as strong or brave as they thought. As long as you’re able to defend yourself, then it’s not likely to be a serious situation — and not one that will end up with them wanting to hurt you (because they’d now have more reason than ever).
4. Try to stay calm
If you’re cornered and intimidated, it’s important to stay calm and try not to show that you’re scared or nervous — this will only make them want to prolong the situation as they feel like they’ve got you in a more vulnerable situation than you actually are. If needed, try and ignore what they’re saying or just keep your cool — as long as you remain confident, no matter how scared you might be.
5. Don’t be afraid to look like a fool.
If you’re in a situation where you need to make everyone know that you mean business, then stand up for yourself — even if that means lunging at someone or doing something else silly. As long as the person knows that they can’t mess around with you, then it’s likely that things will calm down and you’ll be okay.
6. Know how to break a choke hold / defend yourself against hits
— i.e. Apply a choke hold or uppercut.
Most of these are easy to defend yourself against, but it’s always important that if you find yourself in a situation where you need to defend yourself, that you’re prepared and know how to do so.
7. Know where the closest hospitals are from your house
— i.e. write them down or just memorize them.
The only way you can hope to escape a situation before it gets worse is by memorizing where your closest hospitals are. So, if you or someone else is in danger and there isn’t an ambulance nearby, then you know where to go to help them out.
8. Keep your hands free
— i.e. don’t have anything in your pockets that anyone might grab hold of (i.e. wallets, phones etc).
The last thing you’ll want to have happen is for anything to be grabbed from you, which will make things worse. If someone is trying to steal your belongings, make sure that they don’t get them in the first place by keeping your hands free and knowing how to defend yourself — if they do manage to take your belongings, they may feel less of a sense of urgency to leave you alone as long as you look scared or weak.
9. If you need to move forward, walk quickly.
If you’re walking alone down a street and feel unsafe, then try to keep calm and walk quickly. This may seem obvious, but it’s important to make yourself look as relaxed and non-threatening as possible — so if someone is staring at you or following you down the street in an effort to intimidate you, simply try and give off the impression that they should back off or follow along with you (if they don’t, just continue walking).
10. Walk with confidence.
Walk with your head held high and your shoulders pulled back — this will make you look more intimidating and less of a vulnerable target.
11. If you’re walking alone, avoid walking on the sidewalk or close to the side of buildings
— i.e. stick to the middle of the road for maximum visibility from nearby shops and restaurants.
If you’re walking down a back street, try to walk with a purpose and don’t let your mind wander about too much. If you spot a suspicious person or vehicle ahead, it may be worth crossing the road in order to avoid them — or if you know there’s a shop or restaurant nearby, then head towards it. You don’t want to be alone with your thoughts when someone is following you and take measures to avoid being isolated in this way.
12. Use the buddy system and only open your door to people you know / trust.
If you’re going out at night, it’s better to go with a buddy — rather than alone. If you live alone, it’s better not to open the door until you’re sure who it is — most criminals prefer easy targets (i.e. people who are home by themselves).
13. Don’t let anyone inside your house alone.
It’s not safe to leave people alone at home, especially if they’re strangers, as this can lead to theft. If you’re going to leave for a short time (for example, visiting friends or relatives), make sure that the door is locked and that you have a key with you. Together with your house sitter, check the place daily and never leave money or other valuables on display. If you live in a city, it’s easy to get scared and leave money and valuables under the bed for you to find when you return. But this is often theft, because homeowners’ insurance does not usually cover an unlocked house. Some insurance companies do not cover thefts from vehicles either unless it’s your vehicle or has been locked out of the garage.
Never leave a key in the ignition or leave one in your mailbox if you’re expecting someone.
14. Always have two different ways of getting home
— i.e. one route if you’re walking and another if you’re taking public transport.
If you’re walking in a group of friends, try to always go on different routes when going home as this way, it’s more difficult for criminals to know which way you’re likely to go in order for them to rob or mug you. If you’re using public transport, try to ask the driver if they have the option of going a different route instead — as this could be far safer than normal routes. Be careful though — if you’re leaving through a particular point of entry for public transport and another route is longer or more dangerous, make sure that the driver knows this and agrees before you leave.
15. Don’t carry your wallet / valuables in your back pocket while walking around town
— i.e. make sure that it’s in your front pocket.
It may seem like common sense, but people have been robbed just because they’ve had their wallet in their back pocket — as criminals will grab this and run away with it. Your best bet would be to keep your wallet or valuables on you at all times so that you can remain confident — and try not to carry anything valuable with you unless it’s really needed.
16. Keep your doors and windows shut
It’s always best to keep your doors locked and your windows closed, as it makes it harder for criminals to make their way into the house. If you’re going out at night, close the blinds in each room so that there’s no light showing through. This is especially important if you’re alone — so if you live with any other people, be sure that they know what to do in case of an emergency situation at home.
17. Don’t give your name, address or number to anyone who calls you out of the blue.
If someone calls you out of the blue and asks for your personal information, then it’s best not to give any out — especially if they don’t sound like they’re from your bank, credit card or insurance company. It’s also a good idea to keep your contact information off search engines and social networking sites — as this will also stop others from getting in touch with you unnecessarily.
18. Avoid carrying lots of cash with you
— i.e. try and use a credit or debit card instead.
It’s best not to carry lots of cash around with you at all times, so try and use your credit or debit card instead whenever possible. This is particularly important if you’re going out at night — as it’ll make it much harder for robbers to track down where you live. Never carry large sums of cash around with you while out cruising on your own — especially if there aren’t many people around at the same time.
19. If someone tries to kidnap you, fight back / scream loudly or try and make it look like you’re trying to escape
— i.e. keep them entertained enough so that they’ll try to take your wallet / purse instead of you.
If someone tries to kidnap you, it’s best not to cooperate with them — i.e. fight back and scream loudly so that people will notice. It’s also a good idea to try and make it look like you’re trying to escape from them as this can be enough to keep them entertained — i.e. they might let you go rather than taking your wallet / purse as well (which may have more cash in it than they were expecting).
21. If you’re at home alone and someone tries to break in, try and stay away from windows
— i.e. make sure that there are no TV’s in the house or other items that could be used as weapons.
If you’re at home alone and someone tries to break in, it’s best not to run away from them instead — i.e. stay calm and try and make sure that there are no TVs or other items nearby (i.e. glass bottles / vases etc) that can be used as weapons in case they try to attack you and harm you further.