The recent murder of Sarah Everard & touched all of us on many levels as we all have experienced the fear and danger of walking home alone. The statistics are staggering worldwide, in the UK alone it was found that 64% of women of all ages and 85% aged 18-24 have experienced sexual harassment in public spaces.
We understand the anxiety and the outrage, it’s a difficult problem for many.
But we’re here to say that we got you, we researched and compiled the very best tips to stay safe and are sharing them with you:
1. Phone hacks: If you have an iPhone 8 or later: Search “SOS Emergency” which will take you into settings and you will be able to set it up. You can make an emergency call by pressing and holding the side button and one of the volume buttons until the “emergency SOS” screen appears. If you wish to call 999, drag the emergency SOS slider across and it will connect you to a call. If you continue to hold the two buttons, a countdown will start and a siren alert will be emitted. If you continue holding the two buttons, emergency services will be automatically called. Your emergency contact will also be contacted and receive your location.
- If you have an iPhone 7 or earlier: Search “SOS Emergency” to set it up. If you press your lock button 5 times in a row, your iPhone will emit a loud siren, count to 3 and then call emergency services and send a text to your emergency contacts alerting them of the situation and your location.
- If you have an Android: Search “SOS messages” in your settings. If you can’t find it, try looking under “advance features”. Click on “send SOS messages” and accept the terms and conditions. You can then create an emergency contact and send out pictures and audio clips in your emergency messages. To use the feature, press the button 3 times (5 times for a Huawei) and then the message gets sent out to your contact along with your location. We recommend to look into your specific phone brand’s website as instructions may vary.
2. If you feel like you’re being followed:
Here are steps you can take in case you feel like you’re being followed or are literally being followed.
- Walk towards a busier street.
- Look for a business or a store you can quickly go into, you can also let a staff member know if you feel like you’re in danger. Do not leave until you’re sure that this person is gone or have someone that can come and pick you up. If you leave alone, that person could be waiting further down the street so you may want to change directions and choose a different route.
- Pretend to answer the phone and say: “Yes I’m outside, I’m here, can you see me ?”. You can also walk with one headphone in with the music off and pretend to wave your hands and tell someone: “Oh can you see me ? Come outside and let me in then”.
- Walk in a confident manner and keep moving, this can prevent predators from seeing you as an easy target.
- If you see people that are nearby, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Do not be afraid to be loud and make a scene, this can intimidate and embarrass the predator as other people are watching. If you’re alone, you can still attempt to scream if you believe that people in the neighbourhood may be able to hear you.
3. Physical self-defence: Don’t worry, you don’t need the strength of Hulk to defend yourself. This is what you can do in case you start being physically harassed or attacked:
- Using your hands with force, focus on the vulnerable areas by pulling, punching and striking: eyes, nose, throat, crotch, you can also bend fingers or foot stomp.
- If you are grabbed from behind you use foot stomps, shin rakes, elbow backwards, kick behind aiming for the attackers’ knees, head butt backwards or bite their hands if they are covering your face.
- Use your keychain by firmly holding one key with your fist to strike the person with the key, or whip the rest of the keys on their face.
- You can also defend yourself using a deodorant or a comb with a metal end tail.
4. Accessories: If you want to take extra precautions, these accessories can be life savers.
- If you don’t have one, get a portable battery charger so you can directly charge your phone without needing to plug a charger somewhere in case it dies.
- Purchase a personal alarm which comes in a form of a keychain, it will allow you to alert people nearby that you are in danger.
- If your phone doesn’t have a flashlight feature, get a keychain flashlight or similar device.
5. Always let someone know: Whenever you leave the house, always let someone know you’re going out. Make sure they can contact you and if possible the person you’re seeing. Before leaving you can also share your location using your phone so that they can know your whereabouts. Contact them to let them know you safely arrived at your destination.
6. Plan your journey: Always ensure you know how you will get to a certain place and how you will return. You want to minimize issues you might encounter by planning your journey in advance and booking tickets early. Choose the safest route and time possible. Walk in busier spaces and avoid unsafe streets and places with few people.
7. Educate: The issue of harassment largely stems from deeply rooted sexism in society. This issue has to be tackled at its core and we have to continue educating men on how to respect women and their boundaries. Men themselves are also victims of sexual harassment by other men, it’s more common than you’d think. So it is vital to involve both men and women to resolve this problem.
We hope that these suggestions were useful and will help anyone reading this. Being subjected to sexual harassment anywhere is always a traumatizing experience. In case it happens, here are advices on what to do:
• Find a secure place possibly with somebody there and call the police immediately, always file a report and provide as much detail as you can.
• Recovering can be both mentally and physically draining. Try to stay home or in a relaxed and safe environment with company.
For further support contact the following:
- NHS Direct - Information & Help after Rape and Sexual Assault: 0808 802 9999
Written By Sarah
For MISKIE LONDON