How many times have you felt that someone had sinister intentions, but you ignored that feeling? Deputy Joy Farrow (Ret) interviewed many victims over the course of her career who told her the same thing: “I felt that something was wrong about this situation, but I told myself it was nothing.” Deputy Farrow observed that most of those victims telling themselves that were women.
Why do women doubt themselves like this? It’s because modern society expects women to be be polite, even at the expense of their own safety. Women have been brought up and conditioned to be so accommodating, friendly and polite, that many have lost their innate ability to protect themselves from danger.
So many don’t realize they must balance being “nice” with their own safety. And if you’re brought up to be that nice person, it can feel like a delicate dance.
But they are not mutually exclusive.
Historically, women’s priorities were not necessarily about how to prioritize themselves. They have been brought up to care for others. Women must break free from being people pleasers and take stock of their own survival. Because our current climate demands change from that historical paradigm. Technology and social media demand so much of our attention, that almost everyone is less aware of the dangers that could be right in front of them. So, in addition to being conditioned to pay more attention to others than they do to their own safety, many women also bury themselves in their phone instead of paying attention to their surroundings.
Here are some simple steps that you can do to overcome social conditioning, increase your awareness, reduce your chances of becoming a crime victim – and still be a kind person!
1. Pay attention to your Safety Intuition and act on it. Your safety intuition is your built-in physical alarm system. It is not mystical, it’s your body’s five senses picking up millions of pieces of data in your environment around you, and sending you signals that you may be in danger: Like a queasiness in your stomach, hair on the back of your neck standing up, or even a general feeling that something is off. Your brain works hard to help you stay out of trouble! And what do many women do with that information? They override it to be polite! Don’t do that to yourself.
2. Learn to be “Persuasion Proof.” Being Persuasion-Proof is something that many women have trouble doing, because we’re taught to be accommodating. Predators are aware of that and take advantage of women’s conditioning to be agreeable. So many women feel uncomfortable hurting someone’s feelings so they tend to agree, even to strangers, caving in to something that may not have been in their best interest. Remember that changing your mind is a choice, you always have the power to not be persuaded. You don’t have to acquiesce, just to be polite!
3. Practice saying no. Even with small things in daily life. Someone trying to upsell you, say no. Tries to get you to roll your car window down? No. Many men have said that their favorite word is “no”, it can be yours too. Being caring doesn’t mean being passive. You can balance being a caring person with your own safety; you don’t have to sacrifice either one. If someone needs assistance, you can call for help. Women must be prepared for situations that society has taught them to look away from for millennia: Their own safety. Times have changed. Save yourself, by taking care of yourself first.
4. Set clear boundaries. Communicate how far someone can go with you and don’t let them go any further, physically or otherwise. If someone crosses your boundaries, be prepared to ensure that there are consequences, and that those consequences occur. When you set clear boundaries, you empower yourself and you also enable clear channels of communication. No one is confused about where you stand on something. This not only enables you to respect yourself and feel empowered, but teaches others to respect you as well.
5. Embrace preparedness. Being prepared will help you maintain confidence that you can handle any situation that could arise. And confidence in and of itself could deter a predator, as they are attracted to weakness. Some ways you can prepare: Carry one or more of these defense items; such as; pepper spray, a tactical pen, an ear-piercing sonic alarm, a small flashlight, to list a few, carry them properly and know how to use/deploy them. Always file a “flight plan” with friends and family; let them know where you are. They’ll feel better and so will you!
Your survival preservation skills are instilled in you at birth, you can hone them and still be wonderful you!
Joy Farrow and Laura Frombach co-founded Street Smart Safety for Women (streetsmartsafety.org), combining their professional and personal experience to provide the real-life informationwomen need to reduce their chances of being a crime victim. They are the authors of Street Smart Safety for Women, published by Health Communications, Inc.