Remember the days where you could leave your doors unlocked? When you knew your neighbours? When there was respect for your fellow human? With a world now lived online, globalisation increasing and parliamentarians playing catch up, it is getting harder and harder to remember those golden times.
We are all aware of certain elements in the community that derail our normal sense of living. We see it on the news on a daily basis. Communities who have had enough, people not feeling as safe as they once did.
What is surprising is just how many people go day to day completely unaware of their surroundings, unaware they are intruding into a situation they don’t know about or are simply so engrained in some other activity (such as their phones) that they actually become a target themselves.
There is hope however. There is still good out there. And it starts with us.
There are ways to be less of a target or increase your chances of escape. Realistically it all comes down to the individual. Self responsibility aids self preservation.
1. Plan ahead
Whenever you leave the house you should plan ahead. It is astounding how many people will go out for the night and not take basic precautions such as ensuring they have funds to get home, a plan if they get separated from their group or simply a charged mobile phone.
a. Check your wallet. Do you have your card and about $50 in case? ID in there?
Cash will help for emergency taxis, and your ID may have your address to aid you in getting home.
b. Check your phone. Is it charged? Running low? Take a cable if need be to charge on the go.
c. Where are you going? How will you meet your group and how will you get home?
d. What’s your plan if something goes wrong? Make your plan b.
2. Take responsibility – Others won’t do this for you
After a few drinks many people forget that they are still responsible for themselves. You cannot expect others to come and help you all the time. Even without alcohol, you could find yourself in a situation and need to take action.
a. Ensure your own safety. If you see something that isn’t right or has the potential to turn ugly, you should remove yourself immediately.
For example, bystanders were injured by Police in Australia who were responding to a man with a knife who advanced on them *. Rather than evacuate, many people stayed in the immediate area. So immediate in fact that they were in the line of Police fire.
b. If someone in your group is causing trouble, and you cannot get them to stop, leave the area. Don’t put yourself at risk over someone in your group doing the wrong thing.
c. If you end up in a situation, take responsibility for your actions.
Sometimes you may end up in a position that could turn nasty. Respect is key to keeping yourself safe. Don’t engage in banter or slinging insults as you do not know who the other person is – even if you think you could ‘take them’. By engaging in this behaviour you put other people in danger (think bystanders or those who intervene).
a. When first responders do arrive to help, people seem to think it is ok to target them with abuse. “Where were you?” or “What are you doing?”. The harassment won’t help the situation resolve itself, and it could land you in trouble as well.
b. If you become the focus of an issue, stay calm and in control. If you become aggressive or abusive you increase the chances of confrontation. This is why you will often see Security or Police talking to someone, taking insults or not being ‘forceful’ in the first few moments.
c. Showing respect is a great way to avoid confrontation in the first place.
d. Remember the term ‘it’s not worth it’. Someone cut the line? Someone knocked you, potentially on purpose as they moved past? Is it worth starting trouble?
Another example that comes to mind was a female who was attacked after being followed by a person off a tram. The male in question had been harassing her on the tram and she asked another passenger for help, but to no response **.
a. In this situation, you may find no one to help you. However you, or those who are observing an issue, can take immediate action. If you are confronted by a situation like this, try to ask others for help. Use the call button, scream, and make noise.
Avoid getting off at an uninhabited location or trying to escape down alleyways or in unfamiliar areas unless absolutely necessary. The further away from people the less likely help can get to you.
b. If you observe this type of indecent behaviour – take indirect action. It is common knowledge that it is less safe these days to step in as a Good Samaritan, so do something else.
- E.g. Push the call button yourself to alert the driver to the issue. Move away from the incident and call the Police. Do both. Now you have done all that you reasonably can without compromising your safety.
5. Run, Hide, Tell, Fight
If you are confronted with a volatile or violent situation you need to take deliberate action. It is seen time and time again that people just hang around when a small fight breaks out in a bar for example ***. When someone else gets knocked due to close proximity, there is a risk of them being injured or getting involved and now the incident is getting bigger. Don’t delay, move away.
a. If a violent situation erupts or there is an active incident (think threat to life) it’s time to run.
b. If you are unable to escape safely, make the area you are in safer. Move as far away from the issue as possible, or hide by locking yourself away in a room, bathroom, etc.
c. Notify Security or Emergency Services as soon as safe to do so about the incident.
d. If you are confronted and have no escape, consider your self-defence options. You just need to do enough to make an escape path.
Staying to ‘fight’ could see you as the aggressor. Your goal should be self preservation. This means taking an escape opportunity as soon as it presents itself.
Get more information on security planning. Click here.
If anyone else has suggestions on protecting yourself, or international examples of similar stories, please share your comments.