Last week, a good friend of mine when out to her car in the early morning to retrieve her laptop and some work files from the trunk of her car. When she got there, she immediately realized that something was wrong – the map light in the passenger’s side was on. Sure she didn’t leave it on, or even turn it on, my friend went inside for her pepper spray, then went back out to the car. Her instincts were right. Her car had been ransacked the night before. Everything was gone – laptop, briefcase, iPod, GPS, and even a new lunchbox.
She called me hysterical. She lives in a safe, affluent, well-lit neighborhood where everybody knows everybody else, and just couldn’t understand how – or why – this happened to her. Aside from the very expensive loss she encountered, her privacy had been violated. After we hung up the phone, I started thinking about how much we take personal safety for granted. In light of the economic troubles the country is going through, home and car invasions are on the rise. How many of us are really prepared or protected from this happening to us?
As a woman and as a personal injury attorney, I think I’m hyper aware of the dangers citizens face every day. In the office, we deal with a lot of big companies and greedy corporations, but hearing my friend’s plight really hit home just how scary our front yards and driveways can be. So, I’ve put together a list of personal safety tips that I hope you’ll not only read, but take to heart. These are aimed at women, but can be adapted by anybody of any walk of life, in any neighborhood or situation, to help keep you safe.
Be aware of your surroundings, at all times: walking to your car, walking in your home, reading in your living room, jogging with your dog at night, etc. True self-defense begins long before any actual physical contact. Awareness is your first defense against any attacker’s strategies.
Go with your gut. My friend did this when she went back inside for her pepper spray when she felt that “something wasn’t quite right.” If something doesn’t feel right, trust yourself and steer clear.
Never, ever, ever, EVER open your door for someone you don’t know who doesn’t have a legitimate reason for being there. This goes for door-to-door salesmen, repairmen, policemen, and even Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Keep your doors locked when you’re driving. It isn’t hard to be surprised by a car-jacker when you’re stopped at a stoplight or stop sign.
If you are attacked, fight back with all you have. Kick, bite, scratch, pull, twist, squirm, and hit all you can. Most attackers will back off once they know their victim is willing to put up a fight – it just simply isn’t worth it to them. Also, scream as loudly as you can. WHAT you scream is very important – yell “Fire!” or the most horrible obscenities you can think of. Doing this will attract more attention than yelling “Help!” or “Rape!”
Think about your actions, and go out of your way not to make yourself a victim. Don’t park your car in dark, isolated places, don’t leave your bathroom window open at night, and don’t be afraid to call the police if you see someone you don’t recognize loitering in front of your house. In short, don’t be shy about taking responsibility for your own personal safety.
About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper,Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm is based in Virginia (VA), near the NE North Carolina (NC) border and handles car, truck, railroad, and medical negligence cases and more. Our lawyers proudly edit the Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono public information service. Lawyers licensed in: VA, NC, SC, WV, DC, KY.