Tips for Preventing Night Assaults
According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of rapes recorded by the police in England and Wales has risen by 31% in the past year to 24,043 - Highest level for at least 10 years.
As a mum to a four year old little girl, who will one day be allowed to venture into the world alone, these statistics do worry me and has driven me to think about her personal safety and my own.
1) Invest in a Personal Attack Alarm
Personal attack alarms can buy vital seconds for anyone enduring an assault and have been proven to deter would-be attackers by 97 per cent. Some companies with night shifts have even started issuing personal attack alarms to their night workers.
Personal attack alarms are also evolving. Over the last few years they have become more compact, with a distinct sound. They've also improved with activation. Many old attack alarms had a cord, which was designed to be pulled out if someone felt threatened. However, these were found to be easily activated if they got caught on something or considered to difficult to activate whilst trying to fend off a potential attacker. Many assault alarms are now activated by squeezing the sides of the device or pressing a button.
The loud shrill sound of the alarm tends to deter the attacker and cause them to run off. If it doesn't deter them, try placing the alarm right next to the ear. The shock of a high pitch sound can cause momentary deafness and confusion. This could buy the vital seconds you require to push your attacker away and run to safety.
Amazingly, despite their effectiveness, only 3% of women in the UK carry a personal attack alarm. These really can make all the difference is you are isolated and facing a potential assault. Please purchase one and keep it in your coat pocket or on your keys, just somewhere that is instantly accessible if put in this horrifying position.
2) Try to arrange a lift
Unsociable hours can prove to be difficult when obtaining a lift, but if you do know someone who is trust worthy and they have offered to provide you with transport if you don't have your own, it might be worth accepting their offer.
It may also be worth ringing around local taxi firms and trying to arrange a regular pick-up. If using this option, make sure to do your homework. Find reviews about the taxi service, ask among your co-workers for a reputable taxi firm. Ask the taxi firm to give you details of the car that will be picking you up and the taxi drivers name.A taxi driver must have his ID displayed in the front of his taxi at all times; check for this before entering the taxi and always sit behind the driver.
Not only is this a safe option, if you're going to be using the taxi company several times a week, you may be able to negotiate a discounted rate.
3) Safety in numbers
If any of your co-workers live close and take the same route as you, ask them if you can walk to work with them. Attackers are least likely to assault people in a group in fear of retaliation. Not only does this lessen the risk of an assault, you can also build relationships with your co-workers and then the night shifts don't have to feel so dragged out.
4) Pick well lit areas
Night shifts are even more daunting now that many towns have chosen to opt in to part-night lighting. However, most council websites now contain a section where a list of streets in a specific town can be found. Next to the street name will be the times for the street lights going off and then coming back on. Hopefully, your route will allow you to walk through late lit areas. However, if this isn't the case, then try to stick to a well built area where houses may have their lights on or sensory lights on the outside. Also carry a torch and wear a fluorescent vest or coat. Areas with a steady flow of traffic can also help to light the way. Try to avoid short cuts through parks and alleys.
5) Be vigilant
It can be highly tempting to walk out of work and instantly plug in your earphones, but this is costing you one of your most vital senses; sense of sound. By losing our self to the music, we cannot sense anyone walking behind us or hear oncoming traffic. Sense is everything when trying to avoid an assault.It can help to determine the speed at which someones walking, the proximity of their footsteps. Our ears become key if too nervous to risk a glance backwards.
If you do feel someone is following you, try crossing the street; a couple of times if necessary; to see if they follow you each time. If they do continue to stick to your route, remain calm and take out your mobile phone whilst walking. If you are far from home and don't know if any shops are open, call the police from your mobile. If you know you are approaching a shop or a business which is open, then call a friend or family member off your phone and tell them where you're heading. Once inside the shop or business, remain there and call the police. Do not under any circumstances stop walking or use a phone box. Someone intending to commit an assault will use the phone boxes small space against their potential victim and block them in.
6) Larger than Life
A common tip that is shared on safety forums is too use clothing to make yourself appear 'bulkier.' Commentators on the forum recommend using jumpers and a puffa style coat to make your shoulders appear broader and your overall stance to appear more intimidating.
Whilst we can't guarantee you'll always be safe, we can certainly try our hardest to provide you with information that can assist you if you're ever put in a position where you fear being assaulted. We can not tell you how to defend yourself or even what you'll do if placed in this situation, but if you feel you are going to be assaulted, remember you can use personal items as weapons to defend yourself; keys, deodorant, handbag; Also worth remembering that your elbows are the strongest part of your body, whilst the eyes are the weakest.
If it is possible for you to get away, leave your belongings and run to the nearest house, shop, car etc...Make as much noise as you can to draw attention to your location. As soon as you feel safe to do so, call the police.
Many leisure centres now also offer self defense classes. For more information on safety in your area, you can go to your local police station for advise or check out their website.