The other day I was approached by a woman and her young daughter. This mom wanted to know if the area that she was in was safe, as she had an appointment for her daughter nearby.
Given the time of day and the local businesses, I answered yes, but told her to still pay attention to what was going on around her.
This encounter reminded me of what is often taught in women's self defense courses. The single most important way to increase your safety is to be aware of your surroundings. Of course, it's silly to only teach this to women, as it applies equally to anyone interested in self protection, man or woman.
From personal experience, the majority of incidents involving violence and victimization could have been avoided if the victim was more aware of their surroundings.
Most criminals who prey on others are lazy. If they weren't, they'd probably go get jobs. The easy score is what's on their minds.
When a criminal is selecting a victim, they are looking for people who aren't confident and who aren't paying attention to what's going on around them. They will wait for someone that is shuffling along, eyes cast downwards or someone that is oblivious, talking on a cell phone or texting and walking. Most criminals try to surprise their victims.
So, if a criminal sees someone, man or woman, walking along confidently and with purpose, looking around and paying attention, they take a pass. It's far easier to wait for the easy score. This is also why you should locate your car keys in advance of arriving at your vehicle. I've seen it too many times where someone has been attacked or robbed when they're standing at the door of their car searching for their keys.
The single greatest thing anyone can do is to be aware. A criminal that knows you're aware of them is far far less likely to try to make you a victim.
One caveat. There are times when rotten things happen to good people no matter what they do. You can do everything right and still find yourself in a nasty situation, but 9 times out of 10, you can avoid or minimize it by being aware.
Future posts will discuss more strategies for avoiding becoming a victim, but if there was only one lesson or one thing I could teach anyone, it would be to pay attention.
Be aware. Stay safe.