UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | April 15, 2024

OPINION | A woman’s guide to staying safe in the modern era

In the face of rising concerns for women’s safety, navigating through everyday activities like commuting, socializing or running errands can present challenges, underscoring the importance of preparedness. Emphasizing collective action contributes to enhancing safety for everyone. Abigail Byington | Sun News Daily

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As a woman, I have learned some unfortunate truths to stay safe. It’s hard to keep so many tips straight and know what to do when something happens.

Women’s safety is incredibly important, and now more than ever, I suddenly feel like I’m not in crimeless and safe St. George.

Last week, I was picking up a prescription at Harmons when a man came up to me. He asked if I liked jokes, and I instantly felt uncomfortable. I told him “no,” but he still decided to tell me a crude joke and wouldn’t leave me alone.

I looked around at various people walking past me and mouthed “help” to a woman. Then, she laughed at me and walked away. He must have sensed my hesitation because he randomly ran away and I went about my shopping, staying vigilant.

To my shock, the man who had been following me came into my checkout lane. In fear, I looked to the cashier, who still did nothing. I asked him if somebody could walk me to my car, and he didn’t say anything.

When I finished paying, I waited for the cashier to help me, but he didn’t. At that moment, I grabbed my bag and ran to my car and peeled out of the parking lot as fast as I could.

This situation just proved to me that everything I had ever learned just didn’t help me. I knew what to do, yet nothing worked to help me.

In my life, I have learned so much about women’s safety, and I keep all of these tips with me wherever I go.

Tips

  1. Be mean. As a woman, it’s impossible to be mean without being called bratty or other awful words. But being mean can save your life. In Harmons, I said, “Leave me alone,” “I don’t want to talk to you” and other things to get him to leave. Don’t feel like you need to say “sorry” to make yourself seem nicer. Just be assertive and walk away.
  2. As you walk up to your car, check underneath it to make sure nobody is hiding under waiting to grab you. This one seems silly, but human traffickers can sometimes hide under your car to grab you if you’re targeted.
  3. Don’t grab any type of paper or object that’s on your car until you are far away. This can be a lure for people to grab you.
  4. Never load groceries in your trunk, and always load them in the back seat and create a barrier between the car door and the cart to ensure you can’t be grabbed.
  5. Don’t ever go for walks or runs at night—ever. Even if you’re with a friend, it’s incredibly dangerous to walk at night.
  6. Always, always look over your shoulder. I wouldn’t have noticed that man following me in the store if I hadn’t stayed vigilant and checked my surroundings. If you see the same person multiple times, tell somebody.
  7. If you see something, say something. I was honestly shocked that nobody at Harmons helped me. I have always been told to tell a worker that something was happening in a store, and I can’t tell you what I should have done instead because I thought I did everything right.
  8. Meet any dates in a public place during the day. If you meet somebody online, your first date should be during the day, at a coffee shop or for lunch in a busy place. Once you know they’re safe, you can meet them for dinner or something else at night.
  9. Always have a weapon on hand, or know how to defend yourself. Women carrying a gun or having some kind of weapon are far more likely to get out of a dangerous situation than if they had no weapon.
  10. Take a self-defense class. The Utah Tech Police Department has S.A.F.E classes offered for students to learn how to defend themselves without a weapon.

Being a woman is incredibly frustrating. I feel like I have to always look over my shoulder and be vigilant with my surroundings. I constantly fear that my outfit is too revealing and something could happen to me if what I wear is “asking for it.”

I hate that as a woman, I have to fear for my life even when I’m in my own home. As a society, it’s ridiculous that women are unsafe and have to protect themselves when the problem should be addressed at the source.

If instead of teaching women how to be safer, what if we taught assaulters how to not assault or advocated for victims instead of blaming them?

I wish women didn’t have to look behind their shoulder during walks, and instead men just stopped attacking women. Teaching men how to stop attacking could end so many assaults if we just targeted the root of the problem, instead of blaming women for not being safe enough.

Women’s safety is so important, and with these tips, I hope any woman out there can stay safe and feel protected.