Women often find themselves feeling vulnerable and uneasy when we go out alone. Usually, being out after dark only causes those feelings to get worse. Knowing what steps you can take to make yourself feel safer is half the battle, and while you cannot prevent every possible danger, you can significantly reduce the risk so you feel more secure. You don’t have to be paranoid when you step out after night fall, but you should also be prepared by knowing a few important precautions. Here are 9 ways to stay safe after dark.
1. Think before You Dress
If you are going to be out walking alone after dark, particularly in a dangerous area, it’s important to consider what kind of risk your clothing poses. Surely you want to wear something that is not too revealing since that just attracts unnecessary attention—if you need to change your clothes before heading home, then do so. Also avoid dark clothing, high heels, scarves, and anything loose and dangly.
2. Keep Your Hands Free
Carry as little as possible and keep your hands empty. If you are busy texting or have your hands full of items, you will not be able to react quickly if something should happen. It’s even wise to carry your keys in your hand with the keys between your fingers—when you do react, the perpetrator will be met with a sharp sting.
3. Make Eye Contact
Nothing screams “vulnerable” like a woman walking down the street with her eyes fixed on the ground. While your first instinct may be to look away or stare at your feet, look the person straight in the eyes and continue walking. This gives the impression that you are not afraid and makes coming after you seem like a much more difficult task.
4. Change Your Routine
If you follow the exact same routine every night, you are asking for trouble. Chances are there is someone who knows exactly what time you come out, which streets you take, which car is yours, and where you go. Never assume that you are not being watched and always change up your routine. Leave at a different time, take a different route—anything to make you less of an easy target.
5. Being Paranoid Can Sometimes Be a Good Thing
Assume that everyone you encounter is a potential attacker. If you are always thinking that the next person you pass is going to come after you, then you are always mentally prepared and will be able to react. Assuming you are perfectly safe is a mistake that puts you in even greater danger after dark. While it may not be pleasant, it is reality and the more you prepare yourself, the better off you will be.
6. Don’t Go out Alone
If you can avoid being alone after dark, that is the best precaution you could possibly take. There is definitely safety in numbers and 3 or 4 people are a lot more difficult to attack than just one. The same rules still apply as if you were alone, but having company puts you in a position of far less risk.
7. Prepare Ahead of Time
Don’t wait until you are leaving a club in the dark to realize that perhaps pepper spray and a keychain flashlight would have been good investments. No matter what, you should always be as prepared as possible—even if you don’t have plans to be out after dark. You never know what life is going to throw your way and being unprepared only sets you up for disaster. Have a bag with extra clothes and shoes in your car at all times so that you can be properly dressed if you end up out after dark unexpectedly. Have a small flashlight and pepper spray in your purse at all times, and make sure you keep yourself mentally prepared as well.
8. Don’t Let Your Emotions Cloud Your Judgment
It may be sad to say, but do not talk to or feel sorry for anyone you may come across while alone after dark. Today’s perpetrators are a lot smarter and they know how to get to you. Children are often used as bait, and not all homeless old men are as innocent as they appear. Do not let your emotions get the best of you—look straight ahead and keep walking. It really is unfortunate that today’s world has come to such a pathetic state, but you have no idea if stopping to help someone who appears to be in need could be the last thing you ever do.
9. Use Common Sense
Be smart! You know what is safe and what isn’t. If you are invited to a party or gathering in a particularly shady part of town, make arrangements to go with a group so you don’t have to be alone. If you feel uncomfortable or uneasy about being alone after dark, it may be a good idea to skip the engagement altogether.
You are your own best defense, you know what you are capable of, and only you can make the best decisions for yourself. If you feel uneasy about going out alone, don’t do it. Follow these 9 ways to stay safe after dark when you do venture out, but if you have a gut feeling that says, “Don’t go”, then opt to call a friend to go with you or stay home. Don’t put yourself in unnecessary danger; nothing is more important than your safety.
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