5 Safety Tips for Women When Walking Alone At Night

Most women will find themselves having to walk alone at night at one time or another. Even in suburban and rural areas, the rising costs of car maintenance and transportation has increased the number of women resorting to traveling on foot. There are many reasons that you might find yourself walking at night, including emergencies, temporary loss of transportation, and last-minute schedule changes. This article will provide you with 5 basic safety tips to help you protect yourself.

Staying alert and aware of danger signs can help you prevent becoming the victim of an attack or other crime. Before you start out to your destination, make sure to text or call a close friend or family member so that they know that you are going. This is a good way of ensuring that someone knows where you are in case something unexpected happens.

If walking will be a long-term arrangement, consider investing in some self-defense classes, especially those targeted toward women. You can learn a few basic, easy moves to help yourself in case you are attacked on the street. In the short-term, read on to learn specific ways to keep safe.

Tip 1: Attempt to find an alternate way to your destination

Before you try walking alone, attempt to arrange something safer. Consider your options—ask friends, family members, or trusted coworkers for a ride. You can also look into your local public transportation options. If you can afford it, hiring a cab is a great investment. If those options don’t work, try asking a friend or coworker to walk with you. There truly is safety in numbers—a potential criminal is less likely to target a pair or group than an individual.

Tip 2: Stay alert and appear engaged

If you do have to walk, make yourself less of a potential target. Keep your head lifted and your eyes forward, occasionally scanning from side to side to catch what is going on around you. Don’t spend too much time staring at your phone. You want to be very aware of who and what is around you at all times, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area.

Even though you may be tempted, an important part of being aware is being able to hear what is going on. So keep your headphones off until you reach your destination. If you know beforehand that you will be walking home, bring comfortable running shoes or sneakers that you can change into. The last thing you want to do is jog or run in high heels.

Tip 3: Stay on busy streets and avoid questionable places

Whenever possible, stay around crowds on the main streets and trails. By staying in heavily frequented areas you reduce your risk of crime. Most criminals prefer dark alleyways and hidden places so that they won’t be seen. Plan out the path you’re going to take, using a directions app if your phone has one so that you can avoid questionable locations. Be especially wary in places like parking lots at night, because even though these are heavily used during the day, criminals often hang out at night there to wait for victims and make a quick getaway.

Before you go around a corner, step out further from the building so that you can peer around the side and make sure there are no dangers lurking ahead, like a predator. If you’re in a location without sidewalks, walk along the side of the road in the opposite direction of the traffic. Try to stay away from areas with dense trees, no streetlights, or dirt paths instead of paved roads.

Tip 4: Always trust your gut instincts

Suppose during your journey, you get the feeling something isn’t quite right. You may tell yourself that you’re just being paranoid, but it’s always better to trust your instincts than to be the victim of a crime. If you pick up signs of fishy behavior, like an unfamiliar car that keeps circling the block around you or someone suspicious, you should immediately divert from your planned route. Head to the busiest area you can find. If you are really worried, either call the police immediately or find someone at the nearest gas station or other open business who can do it.

Another scenario is discovering that you’re being followed. This is one of the reasons why it’s important to be aware of the people around you. Scan the faces of travelers that you pass. If you keep seeing the same person even after you change streets, that could be a sign. They might walk ahead of you or off to the side instead of behind you, but if they keep reappearing over a significant walk, that’s a red flag. Another potential danger sign is a car that slows down and follows a few paces behind you.

When you become aware of these signs, stay calm. Keep your pace brisk and steady, and don’t let on that you know you’re being followed. Don’t start jogging or running. Most importantly, change your course instead of heading home. You don’t want the person to know where you live. Instead, head for the most occupied place you can find. Stay there and call the police, and don’t leave until they’ve arrived and checked the situation.

Tip 5: If your night travel is frequent, bring some helpful items along

If you’re going to be walking at night on numerous occasions, consider bringing a few handy items to aid in keeping you safe. The most important is a flashlight. You can find one in pocket size and some even fit on a keychain. Even in well-lit cities, a flashlight can guide you through unexpected dark areas like alleys. It can also be used to momentarily blind would-be attackers or to signal for help. For high-traffic areas, a bright vest with reflective strips can keep you safe because oncoming cars will see you. Consider purchasing some pepper spray if it’s legal where you live, especially if there is a high crime rate.

Walking home can be worrisome for any woman, no matter your age or the area in which you live. However, with these tips, you can minimize many dangers, stay alert, and increase your chances of arriving home safely.

Some Basic Self-Defense Moves Anyone Can Learn

You hope it will never happen, but hope offers no protection. Anyone can be a victim of an attack in our increasingly dangerous world, whether you live in the city or the suburbs, and learning a few basic self-defense moves is an easy, excellent preventative measure. This is especially true if you’re female. All women have experienced the vulnerable moment of walking alone at night or being alone with a stranger. This article will provide some helpful tips and a set of basic moves that nearly everyone can learn and use to defend themselves if they find themselves confronted by an attacker.

Simple tips to protect yourself

In any situation, you want to prevent an attack or diffuse a rough situation before it leads to physical violence. Always stay in well-lit areas, avoid walking alone at night if you can especially in unfamiliar areas, and be aware of your surroundings. But sometimes, especially in the case of a surprise attack, that’s not possible.

The best way to fend off an opponent is to go for their weak points. Regardless of size, the human body’s universal weak points are the eyes, nose, ears, neck, groin, and the legs, especially the knees. Go to whichever area you can most readily hit.

If your attacker grabs you, make sure to move with their movements instead of trying to struggle or yank away and create resistance. Think of an old finger trap puzzle—pulling your fingers apart tightens the trap, but when you move your fingers together, the strap loosens. The same applies to trying to get away from someone holding you—the tighter you pull, the less strength and area of motion you have to work with.

Use what you have available

If you can, you can also use something on your person as a weapon. Holding your car keys in the spaces between your fingers makes a very good improvised weapon to jab with. Anything with a pointed end, like a pen or pencil, can be used to hit the attacker’s vulnerable parts, such as their eyes, nose, and neck. It may be unpleasant to think about, but you have to make use of what you have. Don’t forget one thing you carry around all the time—your fingernails.

If you ever find yourself in an attack, these moves may come in handy to free you. Make sure to not only read but practice them to fully retain how to do them. You want proper defense moves to become as instinctive as possibly—because when the time comes, you won’t have much time to think or react.

Basic punch

A closed-fist punch is a basic move to learn before advancing. Aim to hit square with the center of your fist and drive your fist forward using the full weight of your body. Make sure your wrist isn’t loose and that you don’t catch your target with the sides of your hand.

Straight groin kick

If you’re standing facing your attacker, kick your leg upwards like you’re trying to bring your foot up the attacker’s body toward their head. If this knocks them to the ground, you can either get away or punch one of the weak targets mentioned previously on the head. This can be used against female attackers as well—it is a vulnerable part of everyone’s body.

Go limp to get out of a bear hug

A bear hug involves the attacker (usually male) grabbing the victim (usually a woman) from behind and holding their arms tightly against their body. The best way to get out of this hold is to let your body go as limp as possible, as dead weight is harder to hold onto. Once you begin to slide, wiggle and contort your body around in whatever space you have available. Another method you can try is to smash your feet against the tops of the assailant’s, especially if you are wearing footwear with a sharp or heavy heel.

Escape from a wrist grab

If an attacker grabs you by the wrist, to break free move your arm upward and out in a circular motion in order to free yourself. Rotate your wrist as you’re making a bigger circle with your entire arm, which will break the person’s grip.

Upward kick

Try to stay on your feet during an attack. Once you get knocked down, you are far more vulnerable to injury, and it’s difficult to get back up with someone trying to keep you on the ground. Especially if that person is much bigger and stronger than you are. If you do happen to end up on your back, kick both feet up and out at your attacker as hard as you can, lifting your bottom off the ground for extra force. This has the potential to knock them back so you can get up and run away.

Save yourself from a chokehold

If the attacker has their hands around your neck, ignore the natural urge to pull them off. Instead, jam the heel of your hand up into the person’s throat as hard as you can. This will make it hard for him to breath and should take him by surprise. Another method is to curve your hands and tug the attacker’s thumbs away from your neck, which will break their hold. Either way, you have to react very quickly in a situation where your air supply is cut off, as you risk passing out from oxygen deprivation.

Headbutt their nose

A headbutt is a move you need to use with caution, as you could injure your head. In a dangerous situation, however, it may be necessary to take that risk. If your attacker has you in a bear hug or other similar hold from behind, and nothing else is working, drop your head forward and then whip it back as hard as possible—without pulling your own neck. If you make contact with their nose, the pain should stun and distract them enough for them to release you.

Once you get your assailant off of you and down on the ground or otherwise incapacitated, your next step should be to run away. Don’t continue to hit them, even if you want to. Your goal is to get away from danger as fast as you can, preferably finding other people who can help.

By memorizing these basic self-defense moves and practicing until you are comfortable, you will greatly increase your ability to fend off a potential attacker. Practice is an essential component—you want to make a defensive reaction as natural as possible. Knowing that you could protect yourself if the situation does arrive will make you feel safer and more confident in your daily life.