I’m about to give you some practical information with a humorous delivery- basically the tone and angle of my future day time talk show, Real Talk with Dara (the revival and third act of my illustrious career in entertainment… like, Ellen’s talk show, or Rosie’s second talk show on OWN, to give you an example).
I’ve found that many girls I know have zero sense of their personal safety. You could say that maybe I’m just overly cautious (not that I’m always perfect about personal safety. Sometimes when I’m unsafely walking somewhere alone I just think that someone could totally abduct me right now if they wanted to, and then I brace myself every time I walk by a van). I’ve just watched a lot of Oprah in my day, which I feel is important because everyone on Oprah says they were watching a personal safety episode of Oprah, and then the next day they were abducted and had they not been watching Oprah the day before, they would have been killed. Now that Oprah is off the air I feel pretty naked- I could be one of those unfortunate people who was kidnapped and was never found because they hadn’t seen Oprah the day before.
However, I feel like I’ve absorbed enough episodes to know what to do in a dangerous situation or how to avoid a dangerous situation, which I can pass along to you. (This stuff also comes from my mom, who I’d like to thank for my paranoid sense of personal safety).
Let’s have some Real Talk with Dara! shall we?
Let me preface this by saying that although this sounds crazy and that bad stuff won’t happen to you, I’ll be the first to tell you that it will definitely happen to you if you think it won’t. How do I know this? Well, if you watch enough Oprah, you know that every woman on that show (whether she’s been attacked or just anything tragic happens) they ALWAYS say, ‘I never thought it would happen to me.’ So, the law of Earth dictates that if you expect that you’re just one big walking murder target, the likelihood of it happening to you goes down (but don’t get comfy and think because you think it will happen to you it won’t happen to you… it’s a very fine and tricky line to walk).
Okay, here are my tips:
1. Check the backseat.
This rule is not only useful during a zombie apocalypse, but also when walking to your car in the gym parking lot. Don’t get in and then check it, check from the outside window and then when you are satisfied that there’s no murderers back there, get in the car. This might sound extreme, but my mom’s friend found a homeless person asleep in the back of her minivan once. I think he was just confused, not a murderer, but still, strangers in the backseat is never ideal.
2. Get in the car, lock it, and go.
I actually got this from Dr. Phil, so that means it was basically from Oprah, too. When you get in your car close the door as soon as you sit down, then lock it. When you’re just getting into your car, settling in, putting your purse down, etc. your defenses are down and it’s the perfect time to murder you. Also, don’t sit around and text or put on lip gloss after you get in your car, either. This is another great time for someone to point a gun at your window… also, someone might want your parking spot and dilly-dallying is just very inconsiderate.
3. Don’t feel stupid about having someone walk you to your car or apartment. I’ve noticed that most people feel stupid about asking security or a friend to walk you to your car or apartment door, but like my parents say “Better safe than dead!” (maybe you can see where my extreme caution comes from). Just think, security is being paid to do this kind of stuff, so what do you care, and if you’re asking a friend or acquaintance, do you really think they feel put out to ensure your safety?
4. Have some common sense.
You know how every time the news reports that a woman has been abducted or attacked they say it happened at 3am as she was walking home alone? Or the last time they saw her was at the subway stop at 2am, ALONE? Don’t you always think, “well, what was she doing out that late alone?” and how many times have you been that girl? Not to say that bad things don’t happen in broad day light, but c’mon, don’t walk around late at night alone.
5. Don’t walk through parks after dark.
Benson and Stabler looking for murderers in the park.
This might sound obvious, but I used to go to college across the street from a city park and it seemed like everyone felt fine about walking through it. Parks are Rape City, people!!! I’m not kidding. Have you seen Law and Order: SVU? Nothing good ever happens in parks!
6. Trust No One
Once I was watching I Shouldn’t Be Alive, and they did a story on this woman who went to a gas station alone at night (side note: get your gas during the day!!) and this teenager asked her for a ride. She said he looked kind of harmless and really sad and pathetic… she felt like maybe it was a bad idea, but she ignored her gut and took him anyway. He ended up raping her and shooting her in the face. She did survive, but I would prefer to avoid the situation all together.
7. Make eye contact.
When you see a potentially threatening person, make direct eye contact with them. It sends the message that you are alert and that you are more likely to be able to identify them later because you weren’t looking down or away from their face. Also don’t talk on your cell or listen to music… it makes you look, or causes you to be unaware and thus a better target.
8. If there’s a gun: run, run, run!
If you are able to run away, do so, gun or not. Also try running in a zig-zag pattern. The likelihood of a predator hitting a moving target is 4 out of 100, and if you are struck it’s more likely it won’t be a vital organ.
9. Never go to a second location.
This tip is an oldie, but a goodie. If you allow yourself to be taken to a second location, your chances of getting seriously hurt increase ten fold. So scream, crash the car, fight, etc.
10. Trust your gut.
If you don’t feel safe don’t do that thing. Your gut is alway right. This is like step 1, you guys.
Other Tips to Make You Afraid of Life
- If you’re ever in a trunk, kick out the tail light and stick your hand through and wave. The driver won’t know but the car behind you will. Also, lots of new cars have an emergency trunk opener on the inside so look for that, too.
- Have your apartment or car keys in your hand and ready while you walk. Put that key between two fingers and make a fist so you can jab someone’s eye out with it.
- Let someone know where you’re going, like a roommate. If you don’t come home one night and you told them to expect you, then they can call the police a lot sooner than if they weren’t sure if you planned on coming home. Also, police will know where to look if they know where you were headed that night.
This is the stuff that I’m always aware of, all the time. Also know that at any given time, I am plotting exactly what I will use around me as a weapon and various escape routes available.
Being hyper-aware at all times is not as crippling as one might expect- knowledge is power, that sort of thing.
P.S. I swear this post makes me sound more neurotic than I am.
Do you have any safety tips?