One of the first lessons I was taught by my mum when I turned 13 was how to protect myself. Whether it was a stranger trying to grab you or a predator watching, we were given tips on what to do if any of these were to happen. The main reason for writing a post like this was because a woman was murdered in my county last Friday. Her name was Gracie Spinks and she was only 23. I remember driving past her with my mum as she tended to her horse. I never knew her personally but even I could tell how much she cared for horses.
On Friday morning she was tending to her horse Paddy like she did most mornings. That was until a monster came and took her life. This monster had been served a restraining order by Gracie before all this but it unfortunately did nothing.
It posed a question that all women ask themselves: why should we have to protect ourselves?
Monsters only meant to be stories told to scare kids. They’re not supposed to be real but they are.
It frustrates me that it is always women that have to cover their items or make sure they don’t walk alone at night. I’m sure that men are human too so should get the same advice. However, it isn’t as common to see. Why should we have to be the ones to ensure we’re safe instead of dealing with the problems at hand? Why not deal with the mindsets of the predators first? Of course no-one can know who will become one as a child but it would still be nice to have classes about respect for all genders.
The lessons could include equality for race, disability, sexualities and more. Teacher friends, I’d love to know what kids are taught these days! Just curious.
That all said, I still wanted to come up with some tips to defend ourselves. If a day like this ever occurs, hopefully we’d have a fighting chance.
Take a friend with you or tell them where you are
It’s no secret that we tend to become lax when all of our days are the same. We get used to know our routines and it lulls us into a false sense of security. I promise I’m not trying to trigger anyone into anxiety or paranoia but it’s true!
- If you’re going out, tell someone where, how long you’ll be there and when you’ll come back. This one sounds somewhat controlling but at least that person will know if something changes.
- If you have to do something alone in an open space, take a friend with you. The saying tends to go ‘Two are better than one’. It’s company and a look-out in one.
Walk facing traffic and be aware
Of all the things I’ve learned from true crime stories, it’s how common it is for a person to be grabbed from behind. If a car was to approach you, at least you’d be able to see a suspicious car coming.
Always be aware of your surroundings. It’s easy to just stick in your earphones or play on your phone as you walk or run. However it stops you from focusing on what is going on around you and being slow on the uptake if someone is creeping up behind you.
If you think someone is following you, stop heading to your destination and go somewhere different, especially if you were heading home. Go somewhere that is more busy and go into a shop/supermarket. You can tell staff in there that someone is following you and need help.
Use a personal safety app
While I was researching for this post, I stumbled on the Suzy Lamplugh Trust website that has a bunch of really important safety tips. One of them was to use safety apps. The one they advised was called Hollie Guard where, if you feel threatened, you can shake your phone and send out an alert. Once you activate an alert, it sends your location along with video and audio evidence to an emergency contact.
It has a journey feature (can give real-life updates of you going from A to B), a Man Down feature (for if you’re about to come under serious harm and it flags if you suddenly stop or get impacted) and a Reports (that keeps track of geotags and records any incident you may have).
Carry a personal safety alarm
There’s one item that all women tend to have hidden away from view and that is a personal safety alarm. There are so many kinds out there that do a bunch of different things! If you don’t have an alarm yet, here are some things to consider:
- An alarm is meant to distract and shock your attacker. Those few moments of distraction will give you precious seconds to escape and those seconds could mean life or death.
- If we want to get the attacker to let you go, pick an alarm that gives off a continious sound and goes off around 138 decibels.
- Hold the alarm as close to the attackers’ face and, once they let you go, drop the alarm near them and run towards a busy area. If you end up near some people, shout at them to call the police.
Take some self-defence classes
What I love about some schools is that they’re teaching girls self-defence. The percentage of girls that are attacked is higher than it should ever be and it’s why all females should be able to defend themselves. If you can, look into doing some self-defence classes to give you basics on how to defend yourself.
Use whatever you have to hand! Wearing heels? Slam that heel into their foot! Wearing a heavy bag? Whack that into them! If you’re in a chokehold, don’t grab the attacker’s arms. Do the old-fashioned trick and give them a sharp knee into the groin. If they’re grabbing your collar, then straighten your arm, lock your elbows and slam your hand into their ear.
These are only a scratch on the amount of tips out there for women to look at. Whoever you are, stay safe and please keep the family of Gracie Spinks in your thoughts.
What advice have you been taught to stay safe?