Safety and Training

Throwback Thursday: Six Safety Tips for Women

woman with gun near thief at night in parking lot

I have good news! Crime rates are dropping across the country. Women are less likely to be victims of crime and the numbers of reported rapes are decreasing. However, women report feeling higher levels of fear of crime than men do, even though young men are more likely to be victims of crime than women are.

Women who perceive themselves as more vulnerable are the most fearful. Much of this fear is the result of how the media depicts crime against women. News reports, viral but false Facebook stories, and prime-time crime drama shows have created a culture of victimization in women, making us feel more scared than ever. In fact, in my inbox today I received a news story with the headline, “Serial Rapist on the Loose…” However, what will become of us women if we chose to sit at home because we are fearful to go out? Liz Reedy from Australia’s Safe Women Project says, “Staying home to avoid risky situations disempowers women, it denies them equality and does nothing to reduce their vulnerability to violence… Fear of crime affects the quality of women’s lives and what they can achieve.” I agree with Ms. Reedy. I have never been one to sit at home just because something might happen while I’m out.

woman in practice shooting gun in martial arts for self defense in an emergency case
Having a firearm is not enough, it is important to train.

We women know not to go looking for trouble. We do not keep our doors unlocked, we know not to open the door to a stranger or jog in a public park alone at night. From the time we were children we learned “stranger danger” and have carried that into adulthood and rightly so. The United States Department of Justice reports that 73 percent of women fall victim of a violent crime in their lifetime; 99 percent will experience personal theft. However, I do not think this means we should treat every person we encounter on a daily basis as a potential threat. There is a difference between caution and paranoia.

My Journey

A little over 10 years ago, I chose to arm myself and became proactive in taking care of my own safety—not because I am afraid or feel threatened, but because I am not in denial. Owning and carrying a gun for self-defense has given me independence, empowerment, confidence, strength, and control over my life. What it hasn’t given me is a false sense of security. Bad things do happen and there is nothing saying I am immune.

A huge part of carrying a firearm is avoiding any situation in which you would be forced to use it. As an armed woman, situational awareness is your first line of defense. These six tips are some of the ways in which I go a step above basic situational awareness to make sure I do not become a victim.

Car thief in black balaclava pointing to auto owner. Car theft. Safety Tips
Many of these safety tips involve a vehicle because it’s a popular target.

1. Get your keys out before walking to your car.

If you are anything like me, your purse is a bottomless pit. Fumbling for keys makes you distracted, flustered, and certainly vulnerable. With your hands and eyes deep in your purse, you are not paying attention to who is around. Further, a key can double as a last resort self-defense weapon.

2. Check your ‘six’ before getting out of the car.

I always look around to see who or what is behind me when I park my car, even in my driveway. I check my six before turning the car off, unlocking the door and getting out. That way, I can quickly leave if something looks sketchy.

3. Carry a purse with a shoulder strap.

When shopping for purses, I check to see if the purse has an optional or removable shoulder strap. That way I can carry the purse around my chest, messenger-style so both of my arms and hands are completely free. If you’re a purse girl and worried about finding a bag that will convert to messenger-style carry, my current daily carry purse is by Coach. I’ve also seen designer Michael Kors and Kate Spade bags with the same removable long shoulder strap.

Asian woman being follow by snatch thieft safety tips
A bag with a shoulder strap can help keep your hands free to defend yourself. Be sure to use it properly!

4. Take note of cars pulling out after you.

Since it is known where I work and my photo and name are on the Internet, I always notice when a car, that is not another employee’s car,  pulls out directly behind me when I leave work. I take note of the make, model, and color. I stay aware of any car following me until it turns off, goes ahead, or I have lost sight of it. I do this after shopping at the mall or grocery store and after a night out on the town with the girls. If you believe someone is following you, do not go home. Call the police or drive to the nearest police station.

5. Watch shadows.

While I am walking anywhere outside, I pay attention to the shadows of the people behind me. You will be able to tell if they are speeding up. In a crowded commuter area, this is not as alarming as walking to your car by yourself in a densely populated area, walking the dog, or jogging in the park. Do not be embarrassed to turn around and look the person walking behind you straight in the eye.

6. Always walk with a purpose.

Many criminals attack their prey because they perceive them to be vulnerable. Confidence can scare off a would-be attacker. Keep your head up and walk with a sense of intention and determination. You should always know what your destination is and exactly how to get there.

A woman target practicing with a handgun for self defense.
In addition to all these great safety tips, you may want to look into get some firearms training and purchasing a gun if you have not already.

Conclusion: Safety Tips

I opened this article with good news — crime appears to be dropping, and then countered it with the statement of a statistic from the U.S. Department of Justice stating that 99 percent of women will experience personal theft in their lifetime. I have not been lucky enough to be a part of the one percent who will not be the victim of a crime. I have had my locker broken into, my car broken into (several times), and my cell phone stolen — all at different times in my life. Was my life threatened during any of those times? Not at all. I wasn’t even around when the theft occurred.

My point is not to fearmonger. I am sharing my own personal safety tips in hopes of being more aware of your surroundings and being cautious in your actions will help you feel less fearful of crime. Knowledge, awareness, and confidence give you power. Don’t let the media or some violent jackass take that away from you.

What precautions do you take? Share your safety tips with us in the comment section.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in April of 2014. It has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and clarity.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (12)

  1. Very good article, and as noted, with the exception of the handbag, these tips should be employed by everyone, men women, and children. Children should be taught situational awareness as soon as they are able to understand what the threat is. Ability to understand is key, you don’t want to have kids that live in fear, just understand that their world can change in an instant, because there are EVIL people out there. Women are not the only prey out on the street under the watchful eyes of predators, intent on anything but good. Anyone who is out there and appears to be vulnerable is considered prime pickings for some of the denizens of the darkness.

    Times have changed greatly since this article was originally posted. Speech is now defined as Violence by some who would shut down opposing views to theirs. Those same persons would define Violence, Rioting, Looting, etc to be peaceful protest and protected by the First Amendment. Even more troubling is a Supreme Court nominee, now a justice, cannot define what a woman is. Crazy, isn’t it?

    Back to the subject at hand. It is important for everyone to incorporate the ideas this author brings up. And this article is just a start in one’s quest for autonomy in a world that frowns on many of us attaining that autonomy. I highly recommend the book, Principles of Person Defense by Jeff Cooper, which the author covers a couple of the principles Cooper mentions, Alertness, and Decisiveness. To get a better understanding of what he has to say, obtain it. It is a very short read and is well worth putting in your library. Just be sure that those principles are incorporated into your own lifestyle rather than just put on the shelf. A book on the shelf that has not been read is somewhat of a waste.

    Speaking of waste, this articles was not even remotely a waist of time. In fact, time has no waist, which is defines as the narrowed portion of the body between the chest and the hips. Time is a measurement and non-corporeal. Nor was it a waste of time, which would mean that it was of little value or worthless. Anything that reminds us of measures that we can take to bolster our personal safety is not wasting our time. Reading comments that categorize these articles as possible or partial time WASTERS, now that is a waste of time.

  2. While the article was not a COMPLETE waist of time to write or read, the fictional part of your story was unnecessary. Restating the obvious is not always bad, hearing safety points over and over helps.

  3. While you premise may have been true in 2014 it is clearly not true now. Crime is not down, it is soaring. Crime statistics are down because corrupt liberal DAs are refusing to do their jobs and charge or prosecute 1000s of criminals, in order to fake their numbers to look good. Statistics lie. For example look at the Dave Chappelle attack. A deranged liberal attacked him, on stage, in front of 1000s of witnesses, with a look alike gun and a real knife; but the corrupt liberal DA refused to charge the criminal because he claimed there was no case. Do not believe for a minute that crime in the present day is down, which is all the more reason to practice personal safety.

  4. “Numbers” can Lie! You can cook the books on corporate earnings as well as on crime rates. Car jacking, store looting and assaults in big cities are on the rise, if not in numerically, then psychologically, perhaps due to the reporting on TV and all of the other media including FB and that is without even mentioning murders. In a certain big city in the midwest and collar counties crime is on the rise and the need to CWC has never been greater. Yes, as with the American express Card don’t leave home without it as well as the “Six”.

  5. I heard that Illinois is going to non-cash bail (otherwise known as catch and release) on 1/1/2023. More and more crime will ensue. Arm yourselves. God bless and stay safe.

  6. Lady’s don’t believe the first paragraph in this if you live in or nearby Seattle. The crime rate has NOT gone down this week broad day light a lady was dragged from the street on her way to work and raped in a alley so please don’t believe this if you live in the Seattle area or work in the city. I just wish I could have been there then this story would have hit front page news not the last page they don’t report crime anymore here in the west side of Washington state

  7. Although I am a man reading this article all of the tips you have written (except for handbag suggestion for men) are great advice. My biggest suggestion, which you have already covered, is situational awareness. Too many times I see people walking around completely oblivious of their surroundings. They have their heads down looking at their phone, have headphones on etc. and are completely unaware of what is going on around them. Man or woman, keep yourself aware of what is going around you because the bad guys are also watching for their next unsuspecting victim.

  8. This is an excellent article in what has become, over the years, one of our most insightful, relevant, and progressive pro-gun organizations. CTD has ‘grown up’ from a place where, over ten years ago, buying cheap MREs, an exhaustive inventory of obsolete foreign military gear, and cheesy bumper stickers was the predominant fare. Although I did enjoy the slogans like, “Guns cause crime like flies cause garbage”, I must say that the modern CTD is a much more polished and competitive market friendly entity.
    To this referenced compilation as well as the additional reader’s comment I have only two things to add. One of which relates directly to the issue of situational awareness. This concerns the solo female who becomes so engrossed in putting away something in the car that she is totally ignorant of her surroundings for way too long. It is usually attending to a child in a car seat; normally bending into the back seat area. When I see this it simply looks like a crime opportunity just waiting for the car thief, purse snatcher, sexual attacker or whatever to strike.
    The other item concerns what I hope is an intentional defensive posture by a lone female. It simply involves having a cell phone open and up to the ear as if in conversation with someone. This looks like an excellent deterrent to confrontation. Even if the female (or male in a threat scenario) isn’t even actively on the phone; facilitating a summons for assistance, the phone may be one button speed dialed for instant connection to 911 support.
    As I said initially, the featured article is excellent. The contextual message about female empowerment is both well presented and appropriately focused. I do believe, however, that men can benefit greatly from that advice as well. I trust that my comments were not redundant. I want to positively contribute to this work.
    Whereas I had formerly been a casual fair weather patron of CTD, recently I am experiencing a greater appreciation for the maturity and sophistication of this organization’s retail offerings, catalog presentation, incredibly detailed web site (what?; 2000 gun sights ???), informational forums, and customer service manifestation by means of real-time expert assistance. Yep, I am very ‘ HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY’ …

  9. use constant situational awareness!! check out the area you are going to prior to driving there!! keep your tank full..do not stop and fill up in a unknown area. if someone bumps you from behind do not get out to look at it…drive to somewhere with a lot of people or a police station etc… you can replace a tail light later a favorite trick is to deliberately bump the rear of a car with a single women in it. do not drive with your windows down. use your mind and common sense. any place or person you do not know is automatically SUSPECT.

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