You’re driving through a parking lot when a man flags down your car. You’re walking through a parking garage when a man approaches you and asks for help.
What do you do in situations like these?
You DON’T stop your car or put down the window. Instead, roll ‘em up, make sure your doors are locked and get out of there. If you’re on foot, keep moving, toward the door, toward people, toward anyone who can help you if this guy is a predator. Keep him in your peripheral vision and look for a possible conspirator.
You want to look like a hard target. (see the Hard Target Safety Tip)
Women are conditioned to be polite. We want to help others. Predators use these societal expectations against us. Ted Bundy’s favorite ploy was to wear an arm sling or cast and ask women for help carrying his books or packages. He was handsome, educated and intelligent. He also raped and murdered at least three dozen women.
If you really think the person needs help, as soon as you get to a safe place, call 911, mall security or other appropriate authority and let them provide assistance. Be prepared. Have the number for office/building/campus security programmed into the speed dial on your phone. Make sure you have a cell phone and keep it charged. If you’re a college student, learn the layout of the campus so you know which direction to run should you need to find people. Think about these types of scenarios. The worst time to make a good decision is under duress.
This doesn’t mean you can’t ever help other people, but you need to be smart about these situations. The most important weapon you have at your disposal is your brain.
This post is a continuation from my last safety tip of the week, PLAN TO PARTY SAFE (Part 1). When going out to a party, club or bar, be sure you make a plan before you leave home. If your plan changes, have a back up plan in mind.
PLAN A: Know how much you’re going to drink before going out. If you are going through your drinks faster than you anticipated, try PLAN B: Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks. No one needs to know your second and fourth vodka and tonics are only tonics. Or that you filled up your beer bottle with water.
PLAN A: Drink only from bottles or cans you have opened or have watched the bartender pour. Don’t accept drinks that are in punch bowls or other open containers. Never accept drinks from strangers or people you don’t absolutely trust with your life. If you didn’t see what went into your glass, assume anything can be in it. Your nonalcoholic drink could be spiked with alcohol. Your alcoholic drink could be laced with drugs. And consider this, even if it isn’t drugged, the guy buying you a drink may think you now owe him something in return.
PLAN B: Get help immediately from someone you trust with your life if…
- Your drink tastes bitter, is unusually salty, has a strange color, odor or has foam or residue on the surface. Makers of Rohypnol (“roofies”) changed the formula so when dissolved in liquid, the pill produces a blueish-green dye. Clear drinks turn blue, beer turns green and dark drinks turn murky. BE AWARE however, that many date rape drugs are colorless, odorless, tasteless and can dissolve quickly in liquid.
- You begin to feel usually drunk for the amount of alcohol you’ve consumed
- You feel dizzy, nauseous, drowsy, “out of it,” or hallucinate
- Your girlfriend acts in the above manner. (Remember you’ve already made a buddy plan to watch out for each other!)
You or she may have been drugged and may only be alert for a moment longer.
PLAN A: Don’t leave your drink unattended. If you leave to go to the restroom, the dance floor or to make a phone call, then (PLAN B) throw out that drink when you return. You can always buy yourself another one.
Party Smart and Stay Safe!
What do the people in the following scenarios have in common? A mother exits a store looking at her latest purchase. A sister stands in the parking lot rummaging through her purse in search of her car keys. A friend walks, jogs or runs with headphones. A niece is busy texting her friends.
Each of these people are unaware of their surroundings. To a predator, they might as well have “Easy Target” written on their foreheads.
Criminals fear two things: being caught and being hurt. Which is why they look for an easy target in the first place. Unfortunately, it only takes a predator seconds to zero in on an easy target. Fortunately, you are not an easy target. You are a Hard Target because…
- You are aware of your surroundings.
- You walk with your head up and with a purpose.
- You look confident.
- You pay attention to the people around you.
- You make eye contact letting people know you see them, but you don’t stare so as not to challenge them.
- You wear headphones only while exercising at the gym.
- You have your keys in hand when going to your car.
Feel free to share other ways you can be a Hard Target in the comments section.