Hopefully you all know that being aware of the people and places around you is extremely important (if not read this) but noticing the people around you is only half the battle...
What are they noticing about you?
My best piece of women's self-defense advice is DON'T BE AT THE SCENE OF THE CRIME! By this, I mean avoid dangerous dark alleys late at night. This will go a long way to keeping you safe but I read today that the most common places that women get attacked are grocery store parking lots, office parking garages, and public bathrooms.
You can't always avoid the scene of the crime so let's take the next step and follow rule #2: DON'T LOOK LIKE THE VICTIM!
A group of prisoners serving time for sexual assault and date rape were interviewed about how they chose their victims and the results were fairly surprising.
The number one thing they looked for was ponytails, braids, or buns that would be easy to grab and pull.
Now, before you take a trip to your hairdresser and do something you'll regret, take a deep breath and let's talk about the other factors.
The second thing that they look for is clothing that can be easily removed. For those of you that live in cold climates, extra layers isn't a problem for you but for my Phoenix friends, this can be a difficult obstacle to overcome.
The third thing they look for is a woman that is distracted and looking at her phone or digging in her purse while walking. This one is huge!
Basically, they are looking for an easy target. Cutting your hair short and wearing extra layers may cut down on your chances of being attacked but it's all useless if you still look like an easy target.
The thing that I found interesting about these top three things is that none of them had anything to do with attractiveness. These men weren't primarily looking for women with big boobs or long legs. They were looking for victims... easy targets.
So what can you do to look like a hard target?
Here are 5 things that you can do today to look less like a victim.
1. The way you dress. Take a look in the mirror and ask yourself. Do I look strong and powerful or helpless and easy? Do my clothes look overly sexy and easy to remove or classy and empowering? *Hint* Posture plays a huge role in how your clothes look on you. Wearing the same outfit, notice how your look changes if you stand up strong and look determined or if you slightly slouch and look defeated.
2. The way you walk. Like i said above, posture is extremely important. As often as we all look at our phones, tablets, and computers we have developed a tendency to hunch our shoulders and keep our heads down. Fight that urge! Keep your shoulders back and your head up as you walk to and from your car. Scan from side to side and notice the people around you. Now, even if your ponytail is swinging back and forth, you don't look like a victim.
3. Where you look. Eyes are the windows to the soul. What do yours say about you? Do they say I'm strong, confident and willing to fight? Or do they send a different message. I've done Women's Self Defense classes in that past and been the dummy that they all beat on. I can tell you that I knew whether it was going to hurt or not before the drill ever started by the look in the woman's eyes. I actually found myself naturally not wanting to attack the ones that made eye contact and looked determined. Don't be afraid to make eye contact with people. Let them know that you are not an easy target.
4. What you do with your hands. As you walk are your hands usually full with a purse, a Starbucks drink, and a bunch of other stuff or are they free and ready to be used? Think about what you have in your hands and think about how you look lugging it all around. Would it be easy to grab you and throw you in a car? *Note: Lots of women have been taught to carry their keys in between their fingers so that they have makeshift brass knuckles if they need them. I don't recommend this and I'll write more about that in the next email.
5. The way you speak. Your voice is a fantastic line of defense and it's also one that came naturally when you were younger. Screaming is okay. God gave you an alarm system, Use it! Loudly saying, "STOP!" to a stranger approaching you in a parking lot is a huge deterrent. Remember, the people that might want to hurt you, don't want to get caught or hurt doing it so let them know with your voice that there is a good chance they will get caught, hurt, or both if they try anything. Being loud and showing through body language and eye contact that you are willing to fight is a massive deterrent.
All in all, noticing the people around you is only the first half of situational awareness. Take some time to think about what people around you might be noticing about you.