Walking to Your Home, Apartment, Dorm or Hotel Room
Most people are able to walk to and from their residence (home, apartment, dorm, or hotel room) without incident. Potential burglars, robbers, stalkers or sexual predators are continually looking for their next victim. Some neighborhoods have a higher percentage of potential criminals than others.
Predators move from neighborhood to neighborhood. Some predators are looking for potential victims based on randomness whereby attacking whoever intersects with their path when they perceive opportunity exists. Some criminals may impulsively rob someone when in need of resources. Other criminals live around us. Acquaintances may reach an emotional tension point and attack someone whom they know. Some neighbors may watch their targeted victims calculating that right moment to attack. Other criminals may be visiting your neighbors and circumstantially target you around your home.
Awareness when walking to your residence can hedge seconds toward your advantage during an intended violent attack, giving you opportunities to select better options. Awareness when getting to your door may reduce the chances that a predator may surprise you and improve your options when walking to your residence.
Ten Safety Tips When Walking Home
1. Pre-assess possible hiding places. Look at the angles around your home or apartment complex where someone may hide in order to conceal themselves, observe you, and the distance to the path you normally take. If you rent or own a single family residence, consider placing a planter or convex mirror to make it harder for someone to hide behind a pillar, tree, or corner to conceal himself in wait. Motion or infrared sensors can be installed to light up dark shadows. Apartment complexes and college campuses require working with the management company, landlord, or school administration. Overcoming management objections can take longer and/or be more difficult, which is another topic.
2. Search for beauty through awareness. Constantly look around during your approach. However, an important mindset is to NOT become paranoid or fearful about returning home, or even in our everyday life, but to simply be aware. Model Mugging founder, Matt Thomas, recommends to approach your destinations with a “search for beauty” mindset, and then the suspicious individuals and criminal motivated individuals stand out. Then avoid or deal with them. Afterward, return to your “search for beauty” mind set and overall awareness.
- The search for beauty mindset restricts the criminals’ ability to negatively impact your life, but instead you can enrich your life with awareness of beauty around you.
- Through your pre-assessment you have already identified the most likely places a predator can hide. Glance over your shoulder to avoid being surprised by a predator following you. Be cognizant that someone may be observing your daily routines. It may be difficult to vary your daily habits so close to your residence. It will be easier to request the assistance of friends and neighbors to create unpredictable variables for a predator. Likewise, you may need to mutually assist others, especially if there are other women in the apartment complex or neighborhood.
3. If you feel apprehensive, change your path. Awareness provides more time to change directions such as going back to your car or to a neighbor’s home/apartment. If you realize the threat half in between, you might rush to your door or apply options listed below in number 10.
4. Report suspicious behavior immediately. If you observe someone exhibiting suspicious behavior around your property, or on your neighbors’ property report it immediately.
- Make a mental picture of the person’s description of what they are wearing and their physical characteristics such as gender, race, height, weight, and hair features. Make notes on paper or your smart phone when you are safe. If the person is in a vehicle, record their license plate number, the vehicle’s color, make, model, and approximate year.
- Reporting information to the police or security, especially license plates, may be used by police for data queries that provide links in solving crimes. Reporting unusual situations may prevent a crime. Information, especially on suspicious individuals, is helpful to share with neighborhood and apartment watch groups.
- Calling security or police may involve a wait, but if you feel apprehensive, there is a reason and trust your instincts or intuition. School security or school police should have a faster response time than local police and sheriff.
5. Have your keys out and ready to use before exiting your vehicle and when approaching your residence. Avoid fumbling with your keys when leaving a car, or maneuvering packages when unlocking the door. Consider using textured and colored plastic key identifier wrappings for quicker key recognition and entry. Distinct key shapes may also add to easier and faster recognition. Having your keys out and separated from your purse or backpack precludes a robber from gaining access into your home or car at a later time, which may contain your address.
6. Use the “Key Knife” position to hold keys. Place the ring of additional keys in your palm with the primary key between your index finger and thumb (Figure A is preferred). This gives you the most versatility when unlocking a door but also transforms the key into a jabbing weapon. If necessary, your key may be used as an improvised personal weapon that offers an effective strike to the eyes, throat, or ear canal. If you are traveling, you may use your hotel room key card to eye jab as well.
- If your apartment complex uses proximity cards or you have a hotel key card, these may also be used to similarly strike to the assailant’s eyes with one of the corners of the key card, and also be used in moving the card in a slashing motion.
- If you prefer to keep your proximity card around your neck or you are given plastic or electronic keys, you may consider using a vehicle or work key as a key knife for self-defense.
- A flashlight or kubatan may also be used as an impact weapon and may provide confidence if you know how to strike effectively with these items.
- Attaching a mini flashlight to your key chain may provide several options for you. When scared, fumbling with keys, pepper spray, small lighting devices, and/or a cell phone is distracting. In a threatening situation, fighting or escape options may be missed when fumbling with various items.
- A mini-flashlight can assist you in quickly finding the lock’s keyhole If the porch light is not on, if there is a power outage, or broken light. A cell phone may work as a flashlight or torch, but a mini-flashlight provides excellent illumination and can double as a striking instrument. The mini-flashlight beam can also be used to shine into the assailant’s eyes at the right moment as a distraction that you can use before barraging the assailant with injuring strikes. Some mini-flashlights provide a strobe effect that can provide visual impairments to an assailant.
7. Keep your hands as free as possible when approaching the door. Avoid loading yours arms with packages or talking on the cell phone. One of the best opportunities for an assailant to blitz you is while you are inserting a key into the door lock, because your attention is focused on the lock, not your environment, especially if you are holding packages. Remember the 25 yards or meter rule that after your door is unlocked, the average male adult/teen can cover that distance before you can open, close, and lock your door. Additional items in your hands slow you down to open your door, turn around, or confront the threat. When carrying a lot of items apply safety tip number eight.
- Do not wear ear or headphones when walking. Wearing headphones listening to music or texting or talking on a cell phone absorb your senses in your conversations or the music. Consequently, you eliminate the sense of hearing to assist you in preparing for danger. Noise making devices impair your other senses as well. Even a hands free device can distract your senses, making it easier for a predator to surprise you.
- An alternative cell phone safety tactic is to be on speaker phone with someone who could help you, but NOT talking. In the event of a threatening situation, they can call police for you. If late, you can call a friend or relative who can listen while you are walking. You can apply this technique when walking to your vehicle if you have to leave the office late at night with the phone connected to someone who can call for help until you reach your car safely. In both cases this improves police response time. After a threatening situation, call the police as soon as you can to confirm the threat and provide an update.
8. Pre-arrange for mutual support. If you have a lot of packages, use your cell phone to call someone to help you carry items from the vehicle to your apartment, or your single family residence if you park on the street. The appearance of a helpful ally can be a deterrent for criminals stalking or lying in wait, especially at night. If you live alone, pre-arrange mutual support with trusted neighbors. Some apartment and condominium associations have a security guard whom you may call and arrange to escort you to your residence upon arrival.
9. If you pass the individual, make eye contact to let him know you acknowledge and can recognize him. Assess what he is doing. Is he legitimately working on something in the apartment complex? Is he hanging out waiting for someone, smoking, looking for something or someone, etc.? How far away is he from your door? Does he engage you in conversation or make a sexualized street remark to test your response? Pausing confidently and looking at him can influence his intent. A robber may rob you at this point, but a sex offender may be assessing his ability to intimidate you.
10. If threatened, there are a number of options you might employ. Assess your environment and lifestyle for realistic application of other options around your home, apartment, and dormitory.
- You might scream, but this may frighten others who may not want to get involved.
- It may be better to yell someone’s name for assistance.
- If time distance and time permits, and in an apartment or dorm complex, you might consider pulling a fire alarm to change the dynamics of the situation and the criminal’s intent. This may have other repercussions with the fire department or law enforcement. However, if it worked to keep you safe this option may be judged more favorably.
- Yelling “fire”, smashing windows, or picking up objects to throw at an assailant may deter and chase him away.
- Personal alarms or noise makers are another option available, some of which may also have a lighting device. However, under stress women may forget they have the item and fail to pull the cord that triggers the high pitched alarm.
- Pepper spray may also work, especially in a closed environments where the pepper elements are not dissipated as quickly such as a corridor or porch area.
- Model Mugging self-defense graduates can initiate their boundary setting skills to de-escalate the situation while attracting attention to the situation as taught in the Basic women’s self-defense course.
Ten Safety Tips When Walking to Your Residence
1. Pre-assess possible hiding places.
2. Search for beauty through awareness.
3. If you feel apprehensive, change your path.
4. Report suspicious behavior immediately.
5. Have your keys out and ready to use.
6. Use the “Key Knife” position to hold keys.
7. Keep your hands as free as possible.
8. Pre-arrange for mutual support.
9. If you pass the individual make eye contact.
10. If Threatened consider other options.
Other considerations when walking to your home or apartment:
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