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To feel unsafe when outside alone?

(36 Posts)
sniffle12 Tue 03-Jan-17 23:33:36

Every winter, I hate going from my car to my house in the dark. My street is always deserted and there's a dark ginnel to the side of my house and I have visions of somebody waiting in it or elsewhere nearby. Sometimes I find myself literally running from the car to the house with my key ready in my hand. If I have to walk to get the bus for any reason instead of driving and the route is very quiet, I almost always have to call someone to talk to while I walk or I'm too on edge. I'm absolutely fine being out and about in busy places - but as soon as I'm somewhere with no other people - or worse, one other person - I'm on edge.

I know the chance of anything happening is probably million to one slim, but then on the other hand, every so often I will see in the paper that a woman has been randomly attacked. It happens.

I know this probably isn't normal adult behaviour and I need to relax but at the back of my mind it's just sensible measures for self-protection (even if it isn't). How can I convince myself to relax a bit?

kittymamma Tue 03-Jan-17 23:37:47

It is normal to get the creeps sometimes. I would question why you feel so vulnerable? I wouldn't say you are being unreasonable but I also don't think it is typical to feel this way all the time. Perhaps you should take self defence classes just to make you feel safer? Ofc, I agree, you are unlikely to be attacked, but this isn't about what is likely to happen. It is about how you feel. It must not be very nice to feel so on edge all the time.

DownWithThatSort0fThing Tue 03-Jan-17 23:39:58

It is prob not normal, but I do it too, well for me, its not a fear of being OUTSIDE on my own, but a fear of the dark. I fucking hate the dark

The dark plays tricks on me and it makes me

-Feel like I am being chased up the stairs by an imaginary fiend
-Check the back seat of my car before driving off, 'just incase' ahem

All irrational.

I even contacted my local council about upgrading the streelighting around here, but they came back and said we had the brightest light possible . It is crazy. I am in my 40s

IMissGrannyW Tue 03-Jan-17 23:42:38

1. Believe in the power of you.
2. Being totally practical, install a light in your ginnel (a security light, which switches on when there's movement would be good)
3. Have something on you with which you could defend yourself - keys, spikey heels, a lit cigarette (even if you don't smoke) - anything that gives you confidence.
4. Go and do some self defence classes.
5. Practice your strut - looking and feeling like a victim will not help you. I'm not talking about a sexy swagger, I'm saying tread confidently and assertively - anyone looking for a victim shouldn't see one in you.

Please don't be ruled by fear.

Ohdearducks Tue 03-Jan-17 23:46:38

I feel exactly like this walking home from my club on a Monday night it's so dark, it's only 10 mins but I almost shit my pants the entire time. Just feel so vulnerable!

sniffle12 Tue 03-Jan-17 23:52:15

DownWithThatSort0fThing -

"-Feel like I am being chased up the stairs by an imaginary fiend
-Check the back seat of my car before driving off, 'just incase' ahem"

Totally on both counts! I live a Victorian house so obviously in my mind it's always the ghosts of the former residents chasing me up the stairs. I can see it's laughably stupid but doesn't stop my mind doing it!

DustyMaiden Tue 03-Jan-17 23:55:50

I was always like that until I started taking Prozac, now I'm fine.

Testificateman Tue 03-Jan-17 23:58:54

It is not crazy or unreasonable to be fearful of dark, empty streets, but, the chance of anything happening is very rare.
I've not said this but, if you happen to have a small can of body spray in your hand, that you just got out of your bag, it is not an offence if you use it in fear of your life.
Doubt you will ever need it but, if you do, run to safety and call the police straight away.
Let them know that you have sprayed them in "fear of life".
I will probably get people having a go at me for saying this but, like I care.
No woman, or man should feel unsafe walking down a street.
Please remember though, attacks in the street are very very rare so, please don't worry.

HeddaGarbled Wed 04-Jan-17 00:09:13

Tbh, I'm not sure this isn't normal. What woman hasn't felt vulnerable on a deserted street at night?

Sadly, most women who are assaulted are assaulted by men they know and have either invited into their homes or have willingly gone into the men's homes.

Also sadly, I think you are sensible to be wary and to have thought through some self protection strategies.

JamButtyLand Wed 04-Jan-17 00:17:24

You should have seen me after I read twilight books I could run faster than a vampire from car to house.
I am petrified of the dark and particularly woods. I understand it's irrational and that it would be a zillion to one chance.of being attacked, however it's the dark or trees I am scared of not the people.
I second or third the martial arts - I have done and taught self defence for years and have watched many women including myself become less easy target looking

dowhatnow Wed 04-Jan-17 00:20:34

I wouldn't choose to walk anywhere in the dark on my own, and I wouldn't volutarily walk in daylight in deserted forests etc as I'd feel vulnerable.

There is nothing wrong with limiting those times or feeling those feelings as long as it doesn't stop you living your life fully.

DJBaggySmalls Wed 04-Jan-17 00:20:52

I survived a serious attack that left me for dead, and ten years of PTSD.
I took womens self defence lessons. I now carry a wind up torch and a loud alarm. I'm less scared than before the attack.
Try judo lessons. you need to actually practice fighting to realise you can do it.

BlueFolly Wed 04-Jan-17 00:23:02

I don't think that ways of arming herself are the right sort of advice for the OP. It's not a normal fear therefore carrying some kind of spray or a lit cigarette (WTF?!) isn't going to help her feel less afraid.

CBT is supposed to be good for irrational fears isn't it?

QueenMortificado Wed 04-Jan-17 00:25:52

if you happen to have a small can of body spray in your hand, that you just got out of your bag, it is not an offence if you use it in fear of your life.

What if it's Lynx and you spray it and then loads of sexy ladies turn up like in the adverts? grin

In all seriousness, I often feel like this too OP. I too get the tingly feeling on my back when I run up stairs / am walking through anywhere dark

I don't want to scare you more, but it's not really a good idea to be on the phone in potentially dodgy / dark areas. Your concentration won't be on your surroundings and it's very easy for someone to pinch your phone out of your hands.

An ex-burglar also said that he wouldn't target someone who had anything that could be used as a weapon - ie an umbrella.

GarrulousGrimoire Wed 04-Jan-17 00:30:38

Actually I don't think that's an unreasonable fear and the security light thing isn't a bad idea.

I don't like this though

. Practice your strut - looking and feeling like a victim will not help you. I'm not talking about a sexy swagger, I'm saying tread confidently and assertively - anyone looking for a victim shouldn't see one in you.

Seriously a bit shit for those that have been attacked they must have looked like a victim shock

MikeUniformMike Wed 04-Jan-17 00:39:53

Don't use your phone when you walk around as it might attract a mugger - although I suppose if you were on the phone when you were attacked the person you were talking to would know something was wrong. Headphones make you vulnerable too so best to not use them.
Wear shoes that you can run in. I stomp home from the station in trainers, usually having swapped my skirt for jeans.
I usually carry my key in my hand so that I won't be fumbling for it with my back to the street.

sniffle12 Wed 04-Jan-17 00:48:07

I think you're right that part of the vulnerability is knowing that if anything did happen, I wouldn't know what to do. Not only because of my strength as quite a light woman, but my personality, the fact I have never hit anything or anyone, I've no idea how much force you are allowed to use in that situation anyway...

Perhaps some self-defence classes would help/be interesting.

With regards to the point made about it being more dangerous walking with a phone than without, this has crossed my mind. My theory is that if anything were to happen, the person on the phone would then know - and know where I was - and could do something about it. Whereas if anything happened without a phone, nobody could know for hours. I guess because I know my phone is a cheap pile of poop I also think that lessens the chance of someone nicking it, but I accept that an opportunist won't know that in the dark!

What gets me down is that we even have to think of this stuff. If the small minority of society would do the vast majority the favour of not attacking them or stealing their things we would all have a lot more freedom. Can you imagine a crime-free world where a nice quiet stroll with the foxes and owls at 2am when you can't sleep is a thing?

AmeliaJack Wed 04-Jan-17 00:49:22

Buy an attack alarm and see if you can find some self defence classes.

Work out a plan of action. Where would you run if you needed to? Where is the nearest help?

Taking some positive actions might help you feel more confident and less vulnerable.

user1471454241 Wed 04-Jan-17 00:53:29

I can completely sympathise with you. I used to be too scared to bring the bins out and run out to our garage because I thought something was going to get me. A few times I have mistaken shadows and lights for a burgular and nearly gone into cardiac arrest blush.

user1471454241 Wed 04-Jan-17 00:55:16

As others have said don't be afraid to protect yourself! I carry a rape alarm and if I'm particularly feeling vulnerable sometimes even a pocket knife in drastic situations.

DancingHouse Wed 04-Jan-17 01:00:57

Stop walking, put your back up against a wall and carry a torch then take a look around. When you see that there is no-one there it'll put you mind at ease. If someone is there it'll look like you are looking for something. Don't use your phone torch, use a headtorch or something powerful. An attacker is not going to want the attention plus you might be able to dazzle them for a bit.

LoupGarou Wed 04-Jan-17 01:35:00

I am cautious of being outside alone, less so now because of where we live, having survived two attacks (both when we lived in the UK) and had the resulting PTSD I am always alert.

Some things I was taught by the police were not wearing headphone, not being on your phone, always wearing shoes you can run in and not wearing scarves. Staying alert, being aware of what's going on around you, paying attention to your surroundings and not fumbling in a handbag/looking visibly distracted.

Several years ago we lived in an area in Canada where there was a serial killer on the loose, it was a horrible time. Our local First Nations police used to recommend women driving alone should wear a hunting/camouflage jacket and hunting boots, giving the impression that you may be armed.
I was also told by an RCMP officer that preventing attacks is similar to preventing cougar attacks - look like you won't be easily taken by surprise and that you'll put up a hell of a fight, trying to look alert but not nervous.

I appreciate these may not be that applicable in the UK but I do think the principles of being alert and attentive to your surroundings, and not looking nervous or jumpy are sensible precautions. I also appreciate that I am no doubt biased by my experiences, though I do feel more confident when out alone now than I did before the attacks.

Atenco Wed 04-Jan-17 03:24:08

Self defense classes is the thing you need. Not because you will ever need them but they will give you more confidence. I put my keys between my knuckles if I feel nervous or if I have a newspaper roll it up tight.

I'm sorry by the person who was offended by the idea that walking confidently is the most important thing, but I believe that that has been what has kept me safe up to my old age and I love walking at night.

I don't think a knife is a good idea though.

EagleIsland Wed 04-Jan-17 03:36:48

When I lived in the U.K. I didn't like walking the streets in the dark. I actually felt safer alone in the woods in the dark! I found I felt safer if I stuck to the shadows in the hope I wouldn't be seen.

UnconventionalWarfare Wed 04-Jan-17 03:38:43

A small powerful metal bodied torch can be invaluable in the dark. From dazzling or striking an attacker to finding where the hell you dropped your keys this time.

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