It’s a sad fact that many people get assaulted while walking home late at night. This could be while returning home after a night out or returning home after a late night shift. Women are most likely to be targeted, but sometimes men can be victims too.
By taking precautions, you can reduce the risk of being preyed on. At the very least, such precautions could help you to feel safer so that you don’t dread the journey back. Below are just a few of the ways in which you can stay safe while walking home after dark.
If possible, avoid walking late at night
Walking can be cheaper, healthier and more convenient in many cases. However, if you fear for your safety, it may be better to avoid walking where possible. There are a few ways in which you can do this:
- Drive/cycle: If you’re returning from work and haven’t been drinking, consider whether you’d be safer driving in your car or cycling on a bike. You’re unlikely to get attacked in a car or on a bike and you’ll get home sooner.
- Get a lift: Alternatively, you could ask someone you trust to give you a lift back. This can be a safe option after a night out – but does mean relying on someone sober and willing to pick you up.
- Book a taxi in advance: It could be worth booking a taxi with a trusted driver for when you need to go home. This can be a good option on a night out when you don’t want to drive/cycle back or rely on someone else at 2am.
- Use public transport: You’re less likely to get assaulted on a train or bus. If this is an option, you could consider it.
Walk home with people you know
You’re less likely to be targeted in a group or with someone else than you are walking alone. If you’re on a night out, consider walking home with a friend. If you both live in different directions, consider whether it’s safer to stay around your friend’s house or have them crash at yours.
Be wary of walking home with people you’ve only just met that night. If you have any concerns as to whether you trust them, it’s probably not a good idea to walk home with them.
Watch how much you drink
If you do have to walk home alone after a night out, be wary of how much you drink. It’s never a good idea to drink so much that you cannot look after yourself in any situation. If you’ve got friends who are willing to look after you until you get home, feel free to drink away. However, if you’re walking home by yourself, you’ll need to have your wits about you – not only so that you can react to attackers, but also so that you can get home safe without falling into a ditch or a road.
Stick to well lit areas
You’re less likely to get targeted in an open well-lit area where people are likely to be walking or driving. When walking alone, try to stick to well-lit streets and main roads on your way back where possible. Avoid walking through dark parks or unlit alleyways – these routes may well be a shortcut, but you’re more at risk of being assaulted in these places.
Don’t look down at your phone
While it can be tempting to occupy yourself with your phone on a long walk back, this could show potential attackers that you’re distracted and easier to prey on. Walk confidently with your head up. Most attackers are looking for an easy target – if you seem ready and alert, they’re more likely to give you a wide berth. That isn’t to say you should respond to creepy people by staring them in the eyes and squaring up to them, however you should try to avoid looking timid and distracted while walking somewhere that you don’t feel safe.
Download some apps
This might sound contradictory given the last point, however there could be times when your phone can save you. There are a number of apps out there aimed at improving personal safety, which could come in handy during an emergency. Below are just a few of the apps potentially worth downloading onto your phone.
Fake incoming call apps
While it’s true that you’re more likely to be targeted as you’re looking down at your phone, you’re less likely to be targeted if you’re in the middle of a phone call – any attack will be recorded on call. While you can simply pretend that you’re receiving a call, this may not be very convincing. A better solution could be to use a fake incoming call app. These apps send a fake call to you so that you can more easily pretend that you’re on the phone.
Crime map report apps
There are some apps such as WalkSafe that can warn you of areas where crimes have been reported. These apps could allow you to map out a more safe journey home. The likes of WalkSafe can also send you alerts if you’re heading towards a spot where crimes have been reported.
GPS tracking apps
A number of apps can allow you to be tracked by a trusted individual of your choice. This could allow a parent, partner or housemate to see your GPS location as you’re walking home to check that you are safe.
SOS alert apps
A number of apps can also alert the police or someone you know in an emergency. Some of these apps have buttons that you can press in an emergency to send out a call along with GPS coordinates. Others are even able to be triggered by a scream.
Consider packing some defensive weapons
If you’re really serious about fending off attackers, you could consider carrying a defensive weapon on you. This of course needs to be a legal weapon. If you’re going into a bar or club where your bag is likely to be searched, you should also take this into account.
Pepper spray can be legally purchased and carried in all 50 states. Some states have restrictions when it comes to the strength of the pepper spray – but it will usually be enough to make anyone think twice about attacking you. Be wary that your state may have age restrictions in place when it comes to buying and carrying pepper spray.
You could also look into batons for self defence. This could be one effective way of warding people off. Some batons are able to slip nicely into a handbag. Batons are not legal to buy and carry in all states, so do your research first.
Then of course there’s the option to carry a firearm. This is a more extreme way to defend yourself but you may feel that it gives you the sense of safety you need. Firearms are not legal to carry in all states.
Don’t want to buy and carry a weapon? Many women simply hold onto their keys while walking home late at night. No bar or club is going to confiscate your keys, making it a good option.
Consider learning self defence
Self defence classes can be great ways of learning how to defend yourself – not just when walking home late at night but in any other situation where you may be under physical threat too. You could take up a martial art or simply attend a one off general self defence class (there are some classes specifically aimed at women). Most people find that learning self defence improves their confidence. Such classes can also be quite fun!