I watched The Vanished yesterday and it freaked me out. Without giving away too much, the movie is about a woman pretty much ignores her instincts and ends up who vanishes without a trace at a gas station. All while her boyfriend is waiting just a few feet away. For the next several years, he’s obsessed with finding out what happened to her .

Why did it freak me out?

Because I have a very wild imagination and kept on thinking about all the times I unknowingly put myself in danger of getting attacked or the possibly even vanishing.

Like just last week, I sat in my car at a shopping mall parking lot with the door unlocked responding to text messages and returning phone calls for a good 15 minutes.

Doesn’t sound too bad does it?

It is.

Anybody could have been watching me and very easily open my door considering how distracted I was. Not to mention that it wasn’t a very populated parking lot. This is just one example. I could come up with more instances where I could have put myself in danger and never even knew it.

Here are some great safety tips to increase the possibility of surviving an attack.

1) Be aware

This is by far the most important tip. Be very aware of your surrounds at all time, especially if you’re alone and you’re not very familiar with the area. As women, we’re often worried about what can happen at night, but countless women are attacked in daylight.

2) Don’t just sit in your car

As I mentioned, I have a habit of sitting in my car for a while completely distracted and I’m embarrassed to admit that sometimes I don’t remember to lock my door.  The funny part is that I think I’m being extra safe because I generally don’t like talking on my phone and driving. This is the perfect combination for an attacker.

As soon as you get in your car, lock all your doors and drive off and do what you have to do from a different location. You never know who’s watching you get into your car and making their way over.

3) Trust your instincts

Unfortunately, most of us spend a lot of time trying to reason away our gut instincts. That’s what freaked me out about the movie I watched last night. She just knew something was wrong and you could see her struggling with herself, but ultimately ignored her instincts and ended up…. well, I don’t want to ruin the movie for you :)

Trust your instincts, that’s what they’re there for.

4) Your best weapon is your elbow

We’ve all heard that we should go for the eyes if someone tries to attack us. But what if he’s coming from behind? Your elbows are your best bet. Elbows are really hard and they hurt, especially when you elbow someone close range. Elbowing an attacker face or throat at full speed could give you the chance to run.

Easy to access pepper spray

5) Don’t depend solely pepper spray

Pepper spray is not immediately effective on every attacker. The key is to spray and run. If you have pepper spray, make sure that it’s in an easily accessible area. I have pepper spray but as big as my bags are, it would probably take me a good 2 minutes of rummaging to get it (something I’ll have to change).

6) Hotels have predators too

Don’t let your guard down on vacations, especially if you’re staying in a hotel room alone. We’re likely to open doors to hotel staff – something we wouldn’t do at home. Be very careful who let in your hotel room, once you open the door anyone can push their way in. Ask for rooms in heavily trafficked areas, don’t take a room that is in an isolated part of the hotel.

If possible, try to avoid reserving your room with your full name. It’s best to use a first initial and a last name (especially if you have a name that is obviously female). This goes for mailboxes and phone listings at home.

7) Have your cell phone with you at all times (but not in your purse)

It’s best not to put it in your purse (most attackers will take away your purse). If you’re attacked and incapacitated and you’re phone is on you, you can make an attempt to call/text for help.

8) Lock your doors and close windows

Unlocked car doors are a gift to an attacker and an open window is a carjacker’s dream. Think how easy it is to open your car doors at a red light.

9) Public transportation & taxi safety

A window seat makes it easy for an attacker to box you in. It’s also important to sit as close to a bus driver as possible or choose an area on a subway that is well populated. Never sit directly behind a taxi driver, they can easily reach back and lock your door. Instead, choose the seat behind the passenger’s seat and never lock your door.

Whenever I get in a taxi alone, I always get my phone and make sure the driver hears me telling someone that I’m getting in a cab at a certain location. Sometimes I give the taxi number. I’d much rather offend an innocent tax driver than to put myself in danger. The truth is that sometimes I’m not even talking to anyone on the phone, I just want them to hear me say this.

10) The flat tire attacker

There have been incidences where what you think are well-meaning drivers drive alongside you pointing at your tires. Never pull over unless you are in a well populated area, just keep driving until you get there.

woman_at_car

11) Your body language could be giving you away

Looking down when you walk or clutching your purse gives the impression that you’re scared. Attackers prefer those who are meek. Walk with confidence and try not to be distracted with cell phone or rummaging in your purse.

 Think back… have you put yourself in danger recently without realizing it?

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