Last night a school buddy of mine had a conversation about preparing/protecting yourself. He is ex mil, knows the gun laws, knife laws, yaddayadda, doesn't let the fact that he is 6' and built go to his head when he walks home from school in an area where people can/do get mugged.
We've had this conversation before, but last night (as I was sleeping, and house sitting by myself) it really got to me. I've lived in a community known for being safe and quiet my entire life. I can and do go walking/jogging by myself at night. But, in a few months I'll be moving to a college town and I think that is why I'm a bit spooked or more tentative towards the subject.
So, what have you done to protect yourself? Self defense classes? Concealed weapon? Mace? This conversation with my buddy was brought on by a 'silly' text to my friend that my grandpa had given me a 3" camping knife and asking if I was now an official girl scout.
Last night as I slept with a border collie (a breed I really love) velcrod to my side, I thought that I think I'd much rather prefer a larger breed of dog such as a GSD or Doberman in the time and place of getting a dog. Not that this topic is about dogs, but it seems common that a dog has the bonus of a visual deterrent down the list after companionship.
I have a good alarm system at my house as well as a watchdog (purely a canine alarm, he couldn't do anything if an intruder made it inside). My live - in boyfriend has a CCW permit and he's been encouraging me to learn to shoot. I really need to get around to it.
Always have house or car keys out before leaving secure area. Know the area, where the lights are and what is more likely to be a danger zone. Dogs are good, but if you are going to college, not generally allowed in the dorms.
Some people carry mace. Some people dial 9-1-1 on their phone and have their hand on the send button.
If you can pick where you live, pick a dorm or apartment building with a secure entrance into the hallway.
Walk with a buddy whenever possible.
Honestly, other than keeping my keys out, I have not really done much of the above....but I do walk around with an attitude and friends/acquaintances have told me that I walk around like I am a foot taller than I am.
I did live in secure dorms for most of my college career and live near where I went to college. They built dorms on the other side of town after I left - supposed 'high dollar' nice apartments. T
here were three problems: lack of lighting, lack of secure entrances to hallways that led to your front door and lack of ability of security to get there to patrol. Some issue with the town police where university security was not allowed to drive down the public streets, but had to to get there...and the town police did not patrol there because it was university property. After a bunch of attacks, they made some changes. None of the older dorms had problems to the degree of the new ones - so keep that in mind when selecting/applying for housing.
I have two Chows at home. They are the best dogs I've ever owned, as they are very very protective, but also friendly and calm around people they know. They would rip someone to shreds though, if it was an intruder. At home I'm safe. I do not go outside in the back without them at night! During the day there is usually a fair amount of activity, not much worry.
When I go for a walk, I always take one of the two dogs. I have been doing that since I was in 6th grade. Just can never be too safe.
I try not to shop at night (I have a 3 year old who is cranky at night, so this is easy), but if I do I try to leave the store with keys in hand, stay really alert and lock the doors as soon as I'm in the car.
When work at night, and have to leave somebody either watches me get to my car, or we walk out together.
I know I sound nervous, but it's really just basic safety. I'm 24 and was reallllly carefree and stupid until I had my daughter. I'm a single mom, and it only takes one stupid mistake, and I wouldn't be there for her. I think about this a lot, and have become a lot more careful. In fact, I've also become more careful driving too since I had a baby. I used to drive pretty stupid, nowadays I'm completely focused, and drive appropriately at all times.
Cupid - 2001 to 2006 I miss you everyday!
Consent - 4/16/86 to 7/7/07 You were the love of my life!
Yes, my friend has also been encouraging me to learn to shoot and learn about firearms, even lent me a book that I really should get around to reading. Also has offered to take me to a range, as has my horse shoer. He is the one person who is ecstatic for my 21st birthday not because I can go into a bar, but because I can get a CWP.
I'm not going to live in dorms, but initially will live in a no-pet apartment. I'm going to examine my life and see if a dog will fit in my second year or later. I like dogs but don't want to make a dog crazy because it gets the back burner of my full life.
Anyone taken self defense classes? My buddy was saying that the little camping knife, along with his little bench made knife (both are legal to carry around in our state) make a better bludgeon than actual sharp, pointy thing to deterrent someone.
I rely more on caution and being somewhat hyper-vigilant than on weapons. I went to college in a very poor city, and worked in a marginal neighborhood in a large city, and tend to take the dog for walks in secluded parks, so I have had some experiences that make me wary. I like open spaces, I watch the dog when she's there, and I keep an eye on who's around and where they've gone in relation to me. The scariest people I've met have tended to be nuts, so I am very un-PC about people who appear mentally disturbed. I'm also not PC at all about the homeless. Despite all my best intentions, I can't help noticing that most of the time if a person seems 'different' it's not good. With that said, I've also noticed that people (for which, read 'men' as it's always males who do this) who are inappropriately friendly - total strangers who approach you without hesitation, get close, talk a lot - are also uniformly not good people. If you're in a bar looking for True Love, fine, that's a certain circumstance. If you're just walking Fido or waiting for a bus? Mr. Lacks Social Skills is a freak.
practically all violent attacks on women are committed by friends/family of the woman, so your best bet is to be very anti-social and avoid your family at all costs. Never hurts to own a big, black dog either; I hear they don't get adopted very often from shelters.
I have a small can of pepper spray I keep with me. Personally, I'm not comfortable with guns or knives, or anything along those lines (not against people who are comfortable with that or anything, but that's beyond my comfort zone).
Carrying the pepper spray makes me feel safe, I have a small can in my purse and one in my apartment near my bed where I could reach it instantly. If I'm walking in an area where I'm feeling nervous or worried, I put the pepper spray in my pocket where I can hold it. I've never used it, and I highly doubt I'll ever need to, but for my own mental state it makes me feel better to have it.
I also second what someone else was saying as far as just being really aware of your surroundings. When I'm walking home at night I try to stay in well lit areas, I don't listen to my ipod etc.
Cascadia- OTTB mare. 04/04-05/10
If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever
The top self defense tactics oout there are:
1) Aware of your surroundings at all times
2) Confident demeanor
3) Don't be foolish for convenience
Being distracted or clueless and walking shoulders hunched, eyes on the ground looking worried are things that make you a walking target.
Being foolish for convenience means doing things like jogging alone at night outside, etc.
No, people shouldn't have to live in fear. But they also shouldn't do things to increase problems either. It's why we wear seatbelts when we drive or helmets when we ride. Take precautions. Join the YMCA and use the treadmills or indoor tracks instead. Or at least get a jogging buddy.
What do I do? Well my family is little bit advanced in this subject due to being a self defense instructor and firearms instructor. But since it's also a small farmette, I don't often go places at night. (too tired, am sleeping, LOL) The property is made as safe as possible. But I'm in more danger of getting run over by the horses than I am of a squad of death ninjas attacking.
At least I hope that's true.
You jump in the saddle,
Hold onto the bridle!
Jump in the line!
Nothing other than I have trained my dog to be protective. Proof you can train a labrador to protect. If he hears ANYTHING he goes mental, and has a very deep bark. He is very alert at night, and very very protective of me/my bedroom while I am in there. He also growls if someone approaches my car while I am in it. I take him everywhere with me. I don't think he would ever actually attack anyone, but he sent the UPS guy running down the stairs last week
I was living alone when I got him and always praised him for barking at noises outside my apartment. He was also great while I traveled alone cross country and stayed alone in hotels. He stayed on my bed with his head facing the door and didn't sleep all night I heart him!
I sometimes think I watch too much A&E, and make myself paranoid. But I think it's better to be prepared and hope you never need to use it.
it's not the edge of the earth, but you can see it from here
It's worth taking a course to learn how to not 'look like' or feel like a victim/target.
I am very confident when doing my job(s) in uniform, but have felt a frission at times in certain locations when in plain ol' street clothes without my bat belt.
The only REAL difference between the times was ME, not my toys. When I put on the ballistic vest in the morning, I pray for protection, wisdom and safety. I am confident. I PLAN to come home at night.
You need to have the same 'air' about you at all times.
I look at it like the dog trainer or horse trainer: I think we have all experienced a silly dog (or horse) who IMMEDIATELY sits/stands at attention when the trainer takes the leash/lead. It is because the trainer EXPECTS results or behaviour, and is confident in that.
Most of not being a target is absolutely about that. Bad guys (at least the ones you don't know--wendy's statistics are sadly true) are NOT going to mess with the strong, confident woman who looks like she just might dump them and clobber them should they pick her.
As far as weapons--you'd better be DAMN confident in their use, or they are going to be taken from you and used on you. That goes for kubatons, pepper spray and firearms. ALL of 'em.
Oh, I have two big black dogs, so I am NEVER anxious at home. I sleep soundly and have no qualms about going into the dark house upon arrival.
It does crack me up that Mr Kat sleeps with his 9 mm on the nightstand when I'm gone out of town. I had no clue I was a suitable replacement for a 9mm
LOL...if there are any bumps in the night around here...it's my husband prodding me awake asking me to go check it out.
Between the dog barking and my daughter sneaking out of her room to nod and me and say, "I'll take flank"...we're not overly worried about death ninjas.
You jump in the saddle,
Hold onto the bridle!
Jump in the line!
I live in an area that experiences a decent amount of crime- a suburb of Baltimore City that's about 15 minutes from the inner harbor (typically things like auto break-ins, garage break-ins, etc., but can get as serious as muggings at gunpoint, home break-ins, etc.). To put things in perspective, we've had 2 amber alerts in the past two days.
I would never consider carrying a concealed firearm due to the likelihood of a criminal acquiring your weapon. Large men can easily do this without much trouble, and unless you've learned how to handle a gun in high stress situations like robberies, being able to shoot at a target while aiming isn't really going to help. This isn't typically the type of skill one learns while at a shooting range.
Over the summer, I took a great women's self-defense course at my university that taught us defense tactics and ways to be aware of our environments. I have friends that live downtown that wear little wristbands with tiny mace cans attached to them when they go jogging or dog walking.
Basically, I don't walk the dog alone at night because my street is pretty secluded with houses set way back from the street. It's also got a lot of trees and is extremely poorly lit. When I walk by myself during the day, I always bring the dog, and make sure he's heeling close by my side so that it appears he's well-trained and protective of me.
I strongly urge all women to learn basic self defense. Finally, when you get a strange gut feeling about someone that's approaching you, don't feel stupid or tell yourself you're overreacting. The consequences of under-estimating someone's intentions are far more dire than those of over-estimation. Trust your instincts and "drive defensively".
The best way I can think to describe what I do is to compare it to the way we behave around horses. You know how you are always alert, paying attention to subtle things like whose ears are doing what, how feet get picked up, how tense or relaxed necks are, what's moving in the distance, but it isn't at the forefront of your mind? You're sort of sub-conciously evaluating everything and what could happen without focusing on it, and aware but not at all afraid.
I just try to keep that attitude all the time. My mom told me basically the same thing I think when she said to always walk around like you own the place - not arrogant, just confident that you belong there. And trust your gut when it says something feels wrong, which isn't the same at all as something feeling unfamiliar or stereotypically bad.
A lot of people have just plain wrong assumptions about what makes a neighborhood bad, and by focusing on that they can miss what's really important. I think you are definitely safer when you understand the place you are in well enough to read it. I feel pretty comfortable in neighborhoods of Philadelphia that would make most people here freak, just because I can read what's normal and not normal. I went to Barcelona, a lovely lovely city that to my eyes seemed completely safe, and was with a friend who got horribly mugged. All three of us have spent tons of time in cities known as dangerous, but realized we couldn't "translate" the scene there. After it happened, we were able to see the possibility of similar situations elsewhere in the city where I'm sure we wouldn't have noticed anything before. I guess what I got from that was to pay attention to your surroundings, especially if unfamiliar, not with the thought of a specific threat (men lurking in corners, whatever) but just to see how the place works.
Honestly people like your friend worry me. People who seem too eager to find threats to defend against strike me as more likely to get involved in something. I think just walking around with that attitude makes you more likely to be a target. A friend recently came to visit and brought her new boyfriend, a former Marine who spent entirely too much time finding ways to tell us how tough he was. He'd "accidentally" brought his gun in the car, and felt the need to keep talking about it and I think carry it around. That seemed to be his solution to anything that might arise. We'd walk around and he'd visibly tense up aggressively when we walked near homeless people, made a big deal of how he'd never been successfully mugged, that kind of thing. You'd have to pay me to go into a sketchy neighborhood with that guy, he was looking for trouble so hard I'm sure he'd find it.
Truth is though, sometimes there is nothing you can do. My little community in Southern New Hampshire was rocked this summer when a group of disturbed teens went into a house in the middle of the night with the intent to kill anyone inside. They decapitated the mother, and severly wounded the daughter. People were very upset about this incident- saying they had moved here to get away from violence. The way I see it, you have to trust your instincts (thus the book above) and live life to the fullest. None of us get out of this alive.
I also lived in Phoenix when there was a serial rapist - he was finally caught about 100 yards from my townhome. This went on for 10 months, he stalked his victims, and entered their homes in the middle of the night. The police were hiding in trees and staked out in unmarked cars all over the area trying to catch this guy. I remember the lights from the helicopter as they swarmed him as he was trying to enter the home of his next victim.
During that time,I did live in fear, I had pepper spray in my night stand, checked my windows and doors twice, if not three times every night before going to bed. I would wake at every bump in the night, and booy trapped my bedroom door. I always had a watchful eye when walking to my car- if I was out walking my dog and it got dark, my neighbors would drive me home. It is a horrible way to live. When they finally caught the guy the details were came out--he was a sattelite dish installer. Ofcourse his friends said he was the nicest guy, they had no idea...yada yada yada. He terrorized a whole neighborhood of single women for almost a year. I knew some of the victims, and some of the details not shared publically-he would say things to them as he attacked them, like their names, and personal information that he had learned about them-- he was one sick man. He did say he targeted women with out dogs...
Now everytime a workman comes to my house, I make certain they see my dog. She is a bit of a cream puff- but I have no doubt that her cattle dog would come out 100% if someone tried to hurt me. And she has quite a bark- she is intimidating enough. (as she lies on the floor, baring and hooting obviously in the middle of a great dream.)
But to live life in fear when there is no rational reason is such a waste of energy. Read the book, its worth the $8, I promise.
I have a scary looking brindled black dog, a Dutch Shepherd look-alike, who goes up to anyone who comes into the house, sits beside him and barks until I tell him to stop (his previous owner was a biker so I suspect he may have had some attack training). He also has a wicked sounding growl. I think he's a pretty good deterrent. I also carry a very loud whistle on my keychain.
I often walk alone with my dog early in the morning in a conservation area. A couple of months ago, there was a wierd guy loitering in his car that I had never seen before. As I had suspected, he popped out of the bushes just as I was finishing my walk. I was prepared and had my dog on the leash right beside me. He got into his car and I followed him out in mine. I drove closely behind him, managed to get his licence plate and made it clear to him that I had done so. He hasn't showed up since.
I don't go out alone at dark, I have a big dog (although he's a wiggly, friendly yellow lab the person on the other side of the door doesn't know that), a CS alarm, a loaded 9mm and a shotgun. Both kept loaded and at arms reach while I sleep (no kids, so don't worry about the loaded guns) and I know how to operate both fairly well. Actually, all the safety was not my idea but my husband's since he is gone 5 nights a week. We do live in a fairly safe neighborhood, although there have been reported breakins nearby. Just better to be prepared than not, but I do not live in fear of my surroundings everyday.