Hey friends! I hope your day is going great. I’m kicking off the week with a really important post. This post is long and it’s a heavy topic, but this is something that is super important for active women to make a priority. I’m talking about personal safety. This post was getting so long, in fact, that I decided to break this up into 2 parts for easier reading. You can read more tips in part 2!
I am not one of those ladies who leaves things to chance. I know there is a movement out there that completely forsakes the idea of women practicing safety precautions on the premise that we women shouldn’t have to modify our lives because there are bad people out there. I disagree with that. I believe that being safe is every person’s right as a human being, and we have a right to protect ourselves. If that means changing some things in my life until our world changes, so be it. My life and safety matters.
Taking steps to protect yourself does not mean you are accepting rape culture: it is recognizing that there is evil in the world and your life and your safety matters.
My perspective is a bit different from most people: my husband is a police officer and has been in law enforcement for over 10 years. My uncle and my father-in-law are also law enforcement officers. I know more about people and goings-on in my hometown than I care to sometimes, and I really know what happens in the world outside my comfortable home.
But evil is not the end of the story.
Instead of being paralyzed by fear, we need to be empowered with determination to do what it takes to protect ourselves and those around us. I am one of those very fortunate people who has not been a victim of sexual assault or abuse, and I know that it is a tremendous blessing for me to be able to say that since I know many people who have lived through sexual abuse and assault. I was also fortunate as a girl to have parents that took the time to talk to my sisters and I about how to stay safe and how to protect ourselves.
The Dragonfly bra has an inner pocket for stashing small essentials
Not only should we work to protect ourselves, but we can also change our culture by providing support for survivors, and helping people to see themselves as empowered Survivors and not simply as Victims. Be inspired by reading the survivor stories on the SABRE website and read Alana’s inspirational story about survivorship on the Swoob blog. If you have children, take time regularly to remind them how to protect themselves and that they can always confide in you if something happens isn’t right.
Swoob and SABRE teamed up to help bring awareness about safety for active individuals. As part of my partnership with Swoob on this post, they sent me one of their Dragonfly sports bra (it’s super comfy!) and a SABRE pepper gel with 2 practice sprayers. SABRE’s motto is “Safe is Smart”, and I agree! Personal safety should be a priority.
In the spirit of education, empowerment, and safety for active women, here are some tips from my husband and I about staying safe when you’re out on a run, bike, walk, or just getting from point A to point B. Remember: your life and safety matters.
Turn your music down and really listen. Make sure you can hear what’s going on around you. I know personally I love using music when I run, but it can be a bigger hindrance than anything sometimes. When you’re running out in a remote area or a park, or in the early morning or evening, you really do need to be cautious about your music. Sometimes when I run outside I only use 1 earpiece and leave the other one out.
Better yet, leave your headphones out and listen to music without headphones. If you’re riding your bike it is best to nix headphones altogether since you really do need to be more aware of traffic during bike rides. The USA Triathlon Rules and other races prohibit the use of headphones or music devices during triathlons, so it doesn’t hurt to get used to running without music if you’re training for those events. If you’re hating the thought of running without music, this post might help you change your mind. I personally love running with music but I know I shouldn’t do that outside, and I need to start cutting the music during races, too, so I can savor the experience.
2. Carry protection
I usually try to carry a knife with me in my FlipBelt and my phone whenever I run or bike outside. Pepper spray and pepper gel are great things to have as well. Pepper gel is nice if there is wind: there won’t be blow-back of pepper spray onto you. SABRE makes some great pepper gel and practice units, as well as stun guns and personal alarms. The SABRE products are reliable and trusted by law enforcement. If you decide to carry something, make sure you have practiced with it: practice getting it out of your pocket or purse (if that’s where it’s kept) and practice how to use it. In high stress situations the practice will pay off. It will be second nature. One concern some people have is what if an attacker tries to use my own personal protection items against me? There is a possibility of this, BUT if you really know how to use your tools of protection then you are less likely to lose it to an attacker. Practice, practice, practice: get familiar with your tools and make sure they are in good working order.
Not only can you protect yourself but you can also protect others. I am a big believer in protecting others and doing what you can to keep other people safe. There are too many incidents where people could have helped others but somehow were too busy or didn’t care enough to stop a sexual assault. Make up your mind to help others. If something looks wrong or doesn’t seem right, then it’s okay to get nosy and find out if people are safe. Don’t be afraid: be bold and help keep others safe.
3. Look around and be alert
Don’t look at the ground when you walk or run, but keep your eyes open and look all around you all the time. What kind of people are walking by you? What kinds or cars are going by? One time I was walking by myself in a bigger city and a homeless man started to follow me after I wouldn’t give him money when he asked. I made the mistake of not paying close attention to everything and didn’t notice I was being followed until a passerby told me and graciously offered to walk with me until the creeper had moved on. I was too busy trying to figure out where I was instead of paying attention to the people around me. I was very thankful that someone took the time to stop and help me!
Do be cautious of remote trails. Trail running and hiking is a favorite activity of mine, but bring someone with you if at all possible. Or bring protection at the very least and make sure you tell at least one person where you will be. My uncle has been mugged several times while hiking and biking on the trails around Denver. Safety first!
I am a very focused person: I can get into a zone and get tunnel vision when I’m really concentrating on something I’m doing. But for safety reasons I have to find a way to break out of my tunnel vision and look around. Not only for potential predators, but also for traffic: drivers don’t always pay attention to pedestrians, especially around my town. Make a game of it by counting hats, blue shirts, or counting the red cars that pass by. Out here you might be counting cows or horses, too 😉
4. Be careful at the bar
So most of us know the tips that tell us not to set our drinks down or let a stranger buy drinks for you. But did you know that some bartenders get paid under the table to put drugs into drinks they are mixing? My husband told me that a couple months ago and it still blows my mind. It is very difficult for cops to trace who might be drugging drinks at bars or parties since it can change hands many times before it actually gets to a drink. Obviously not all bartenders are going to be so slimy that they would take money to put drugs in your drink, but there are some that will.
Don’t forget to read my second installment of this post for more great tips!
Here are some other things you can do as well, not just for yourself but for others, too:
- Support RAINN (Rape Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization. They have great resources and support networks for survivors of sexual assault and abuse
- Get to know the stats on abuse and assault and find ways to help in this fact sheet from the National Center of Domestic and Sexual Violence. There is lots of bite-sized and quick-reading info in this one, it’s a good resource for people short on time