If you’re forced to walk home at night, one of the best and most effective ways of ensuring that you reach your destination safely is to have a companion along for the journey. Assailants tend to strike single targets, rather than couples or small groups that can be more difficult for them to successfully subdue on their own. While men should certainly be cautious when they’re walking home at night, it’s especially important for women to understand the dangers of walking alone at night and to be aware of the best ways to reduce their chances of being the victim of violent crime.
When you’re walking, make sure that you take a well-known and familiar route so you don’t look confused or lost, and that you project plenty of confidence along the way. Violent criminals target potential victims that appear vulnerable, and may choose not to engage with a woman who projects an air of strength and seems to know exactly where she’s going. If you’re so nervous about walking home that you don’t feel you’d be able to project that self-assurance, it may be smarter to opt for mass transit or even spring for a taxi, rather than anxiously making the trek back home.
Avoid Dark Areas
It may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how easily some people can be tempted into taking a shortcut through an alley or walking across a dark parking lot to shorten their journey back home. Whether you’re alone or in a group, it’s best to restrict your route to well-lit areas, always try to stay under streetlights and never duck into a shadowy area simply because it will shorten your walk. Attackers want as much seclusion as they can get to lower their chances of being spotted by passersby. If you’re hidden in the shadows with someone who has dangerous intentions, you may not be able to safely attract the attention of anyone passing by.
Wear Sensible Shoes
No matter how excited you are to wear your brand new heels, you should avoid them if you know you’ll be walking home after dark. If you’re insistent upon wearing fashionable but less-than-sensible footwear for an evening out on the town, be sure that you stash a pair of ballet flats into your bag to wear as you walk home. Should you need to outrun a potential attacker, you’ll have far better chances escaping if you’re not wearing precariously high heels that increase your risk of falling, twisting an ankle or just being slowed down dramatically by your lack of balance.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
When you’re projecting confidence on your way down the street, don’t be so confident that you pop in a pair of earbuds and ignore everything around you. A long walk might be more enjoyable if you’re able to listen to your favorite songs, but it will also make you less likely to hear someone approaching and can distract you enough that you don’t notice a threatening figure until it’s too late. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted so that you’re never unpleasantly surprised.
Keep Your Cell Phone Charged
Talking on your cell phone as you make your way home may seem like an effective way to discourage an attacker, but it can actually distract you enough that you don’t notice their approach. Taking advantage of someone is easier when they’re distracted, so make sure that you have your phone charged and readily available, but don’t spend your walk home chattering away. You should make sure that it’s within a moment’s reach, however, so that you can quickly dial for help if you spot something suspicious.
Carry a Deterrent
Non-violent deterrents like pepper spray or mace can buy you enough time to successfully evade a would-be attacker and seek help, and as such are great tools to keep on hand if you frequently walk home alone. Be sure before purchasing a canister of mace or pepper spray, however, that it’s compliant with all state and local laws. The maximum concentration legally allowable can vary from one state or city to another, so you’ll need to double check before heading out of the house with a deterrent that it isn’t illegal in your area.