5 Safety Tips For Women Who Walk Alone at Night

Dale Partridge
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I'm married to the most beautiful 97 lb. woman I've ever met. She's tiny. But 5-10 times per year she tells me stories of men who gawk at her or yell at her or even try to touch her. It drives me insane.

The video below shares stories of what it's like for women who walk alone at night. Below that, I have provided a few safety tips for women who are forced to participate in this often scary activity.

5 Essentials For Women Walking Alone at Night

1. Don't wear headphones: Your ears are an important piece of sensing danger. You may even consider heightening your hearing through listening techniques.
2. Carry a Whistle: While many women already do this, most do it incorrectly. Don't carry it on your keys or in your purse. When walking at night, carry it around your wrist or in your hand.
3. Wear Running Shoes: Bring an extra pair of shoes with you to work. There is nothing more vulnerable than having to run from an attacker in high heels.
4. Take Basic Self Defense: You don't have to spend $1,000 and 3 months of training to learn basic self defense. However, I would recommend taking a physical class. There's nothing like hands on experience.
5. Learn How to Use a Weapon: Sure. This is a last resort tactic. But we must remember, anyone willing to attack a women, will likely have a weapon. A weapon is an advantage. It levels the playing field. But you must know how to properly use it. Ask a friend or do some research on how to properly use a knife, pepper spray, or taser. Preparedness is the greatest form of confidence.

What helps you feel comfortable walking alone at night? Let me know in the comments below.

63 COMMENTS

  1. I always walk under lighted sidewalks. If I see just one other person on the street with me, I cross to the other side. If they cross too, something might be up. I just started my internship in Chicago where I will have to walk short distances alone, so I’m preparing to stay safe, thanks for the great article!

  2. My daughter is constantly talking to me or hr boyfriend when she is coming home late, in a cab. I have the cab no. and driver’s phone number, and her boyfriend tracks her cab all the time. Still she has a nail file ready as also her pepper spray can. Delhi isn’t safe for women at all!!!

  3. Talk or just pretend to talk on your cellphone if someone is behind you. Saying things loudly like i’ll be right there can prevent a lot

    • I would advise against this. Your phone is the same form of distraction as headphones. In a women’s self-defense class I enrolled in this was the first thing they told us. Limit the distraction and walk confidently.

      • I actually got this tip from a police officer. She said that people talking on cell phones were more likely to be targeted because they aren’t paying as much attention, and pretending to be on the phone would draw more attention than deflect it.

  4. I feel pretty confident walking by myself, although it’s still scary, I feel better because I grew up with two older brothers, did gymnastics and tae-kwon-do as well. So i truly believe self defense classes or even a boxing class can help a girl feel more confident in her own skin 🙂

  5. Hi, I’m sure you absolutely mean well, and it’s just a way of you trying to help.. But perhaps this post should be aimed at men, about catcalling, gawking or other forms of (mildly?) sexism? I’m sure this post will help ladies feel more secure at night, but I can’t help but feel very “if you do not keep these 5 essentials in mind, you might get harrassed at night” kind of feeling. I do not want to change footwear at night! Why should I have to change? Maybe we can start at the root of the problem? Nevertheless, I do appreciate that you are addressing the matter. Awareness is very important as well.

    • Thank you. Telling women what to do to “avoid” being assaulted is victim-blaming and feeds our society’s rape culture.

      If this were an article telling PEOPLE (I know some guys who are 97lbs, and I know many women who are well over 97lbs) how to be careful when walking home at night, that would be one thing. Aiming it solely at women is sexist, and also feeds into the (largely artificial) fear women already feel. If one looks at the facts, women are much more likely to be assaulted by someone they know, in a familiar setting, than by the mythical random stranger in the dark alley.

      I agree completely with Sol that what we need is an article telling men to own up to their behavior, the gawking, the catcalling, etc., and telling men to call out their male friends and acquaintances when they see this kind of behavior.

      Perhaps you have already written this article, in which case, I would strongly suggest you link to it at the beginning of this post.

    • How do you propose to convince robbers not to rob people? The tips listed here are not against cat callers or gawkers; it’s about protection against would-be attackers. Heck yes you should be prepared to defend yourself if you find yourself on the wrong end of a mugger’s knife. Man or woman. But to deny that women are more vulnerable to attacks than men is naive. It’s a simple biological fact that men tend to be bigger and -yes- naturally stronger than women. A male assailant IS going to be more likely to attack a woman alone than a man alone because she’s going to be seen as an easier target. Sorry if that bothers you. This isn’t about ‘protecting’ yourself from catcallers and gawkers- I would hope no woman would peppers pray someone for whistling at them. You can’t stop every man from doing it. Freedom of speech is a protected right. It’s annoying- downright infuriating sometimes- but ultimately harmless as long as they’re not actually threatening you. You can’t tell people not to say something because it offends someone else. If you don’t like it, ignore it.

    • That’s a great idea for a follow up post, for sure. In the meantime, I do not believe there’s anything wrong in helping women know how to prepare themselves just in case. Appreciate your feedback!

  6. Great tips! I took a women’s self defense class and it was such an empowering experience to learn to protect myself!

  7. Incredibly sexist! Puts the responsibility on the targeted person instead of the responsibility on the perpetrator. Why are women subjected to protect themselves from men’s violence? The message needs to be sent to men to stop their violence. Men should be the ones to carry whistles and when they feel like they are about to attack a woman, blow the whistle until someone comes to stop them. That’s how they should be used. Delete this blog and re-write!

    • That’s probably the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Evil and violence are everywhere. Telling men to stop won’t do any good because this evil will always exist. Preparing women, heck, and men for protection against attackers is the best solution. To say this is sexist is a ridiculous accusation, seeing as he is only looking for the betterment of women.

      • I agree. Being a young female in a large and sometimes daunting city… no matter how safe of an area… can be a bit scary at times. It’s always good to be aware of your surroundings and proactive in how you carry yourself and also how to approach situations. I do believe that men need to be equally as careful as well – bad situations can happen to everyone – but in this case the author is writing based on something he is experiencing with his wife, who he cares about… it’s really not a big deal.

    • Right, Cassie. The mugger hiding in the shadows is really going to warn you of his presence so you know to go the other way. Next time someone has a gun pulled on them, they should just appeal to their attacker’s better nature. I don’t see anything sexist about this. It’s not victim blaming. It’s preparing women for a world that’s not always going to be a happy shiny place. A woman alone at night is a more attractive target than a man for the simple fact of the matter that it’s easier for a man to over power an untrained, unarmed woman. If you have a problem with that, take it up with biology.

    • Haha interesting perspective and not sure I agree. Men are generally stronger than women, and often times more sexually-driven, so of course the majority of the attacks come from men. I completely agree that the violence of men (and sometimes women) needs to be addressed as well, but the purpose of this particular blog was to help women prepare themselves in the event of an attack. I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with that. Thanks for your feedback!

    • The reason that women have to protect themselves originates in a time where it was okay to treat women like objects. The world has grown, changed since that time and now we have what we call “feminists,” who say they want equal rights, but really, I only see women standing on pedestals, creating their own thrones. Dale is trying to help us and I think that’s very sweet. I, myself would say I’m a feminist, but I actually am a fan equal rights, not privileged rights… Society is what it is. Take it for what it is and prepare yourself for something that might happen, or build yourself up on an imaginary throne of support from The Feminine Mystique. Now let me ask you a question. Have any of you women on here saying “this is so sexist,” ever been raped or molested?
      So get your head out of your asses. If you think that this is sexist, are you saying women should also rape and rob?? We sure as hell have the potential to do so, but we are live in a society where men are jerks, and women act like it’s okay. SO, teach your sons not to be sexist and teach them how to fight anddo the exact same thing for your daughters. And don’t you dare do their hair or make up or buy them bras because, wow, that’s so sexist saying that only girls need them, and that men don’t. Make your daughters do all the heavy lifting, please. Thank you for beig a “feminist.”

      • “Have any of you women on here saying “this is so sexist,” ever been raped or molested?”
        Yes, I have.

        “teach your sons not to be sexist”
        He is growing up in a sexist society, so my job isn’t so much to “teach him not to be sexist” but to UN-teach him the sexism he’s bombarded with every day.

        I teach him to respect other people; I model respecting his body so that he learns to respect other people’s bodies.

        Yes, it is sexist to say only girls are allowed to wear makeup or do their hair. And if my son develops breasts, I will buy him all the bras he wants.

        • I understand everything you’re saying, but I’m just saying feminism is a bunch of bullshit because women can wear dresses and make up, but if a man does it, he’s a transvestite and gets beat up because of it. I’ve seen it so many times. Too many.

          I have also been molested and raped, if I had know how to protect myself I woul have in both situations. I don’t see why it’s so sexist to teach women to protect themselves. I got raped. By a man. Men do rape. But so do women. I’m just saying that feminism these days isn’t why feminism is supposed to be. If you want equality, learn to shoot a gun. If ou want equality, don’t wear make up. If you want equality, women and men can go to the same prison. Tell me majority of those women won’t et raped.
          This post is not sexist. And I’m over it. You all think what you think and that’s fine. I literally don’t give a fuck. I’m just saying that equality means equal human beings and rights, and that equality does not mean women get privileges.

          • You don’t understand feminism, do you? Or are all the “feminists” you know TERFs?

  8. While I can appreciate the author’s concern about women’s safety, I agree that this is overtly sexist and perpetuates the idea that women as victims must be blamed if they are attacked by a man. Turn this argument around and focus on the MEN who should be the target for preventing attacks on women.
    MEN: Do not go out at night. Do not harass women. If you can’t control yourself, have a friend accompany you. If you must go out at night, stay near busy areas so someone can stop you if you start to bother a woman. Carry pepper spray to use on yourself if you can’t stop yourself from attacking a woman. This is the root of the problem and MUST be the focus of preventing violence against women.

    • The small percentage of men who commit these crimes probably won’t put much worth on an internet article condemning their actions; a larger percentage of women who want to feel safer and more secure can take a minute out of their day to read this and refer back to it if they find themselves walking home at night in a less than desirable neighborhood. It sounds like you’re grouping all men into this group of animals that can’t control their urges, making you the sexist.

      • That is just like saying that businesses who are vandalized should take precautions to prevent graffiti. That’s not useful or fair. A rational person would see that the municipality must focus on the vandals who are responsible for the damage. Give your head a shake!

        • That’s basically what they get told. What are the police supposed to do? Unless you catch the vandal in the act (unlikely), there’s really nothing that they CAN do except maybe recommend a good brand of paint to cover it up with. The thing people don’t seem to get about criminals is that they don’t care about you. They don’t care that it’s sexist to target women more than men. They don’t care that you’re going to have to clean up whatever mess they make. They don’t care that you’re wearing your cute shoes and you can’t run in them. They don’t care about your rights as a person and a woman. The only thing that matters to them about you is that you’re a convenient target. Trying to change THEM is a futile and frankly stupid idea. Sure people can change, but it’s going to take more than you telling them they’re wrong to do it. However, telling the people they target the most how to protect themselves is a smarter option. Unless they have arbitrary objections based on a sense of fairness and justice that doesn’t exist in the world.

      • Reid, your numbers don’t seem to add up. It’s only a “small percentage” of men who commit these crimes, but women need to be on alert at all times (hence the need for articles like this one)?

        The ones who assume “all men” are animals who can’t control their urges are the ones who tell women it’s the woman’s responsibility to keep these men from attacking. Feminists are the ones saying men can (and should) control their urges and be responsible for their own behavior.

    • Haha I agree that men need to be addressed as well, but it is STILL a problem in society and therefore there’s nothing wrong with women protecting themselves in the meantime. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Kim!

    • I just saw this post and I completely agree with you on this one Kim. I live in England and I volunteer as a counsellor in a rape crisis centre here and I can say from the women we see and support that perpetuating these sexist ideas is damaging and stigmatising for them all over again. They are also part of the myths existing around sexual violence.

      Granted, I am sure that some men and women are attacked in public places by strangers and indeed we ALL should be cautious of this, not just women. This is what partly makes the most sexist as that it specifically targets women as the only ones susceptible because of our gender. Statistics suggest in the UK men are actually more likely to be robbed, beaten up etc..whereas women are more likely to be survivors of sexual violence.

      And when women are survivors of sexual violence, the vast majority have been abused by family members, spouses, ex-partners, former lovers; basically someone they know or have previously had a relationship with. This should be addressed when considering violence against women as well as what Kim has already said so well; male behaviour and attitudes towards women.

      And as a final point, we feminists are not on our ‘high horses’ though we may, perhaps admittedly, have a lofty ideal we wish to achieve – gender equality. Part of this involves not blindly accepting male violence against women or any kind of violence against anyone because of their race, class, creed, gender or because they may need to walk somewhere at night alone. Of course, there will always be some individuals who will inflict violence on others and hopefully they will be in the minority. Although surely a society should strive to be better than the individual and that can only begin if we challenge damaging misconceptions around these ideas.

    • I’m kinda chubby and a male. I came on this site because i wanted to be safe. I prefer to walk at night so less people see my chubbiness 😀 and it’s cooler at night too so I walk down dark empty streets usually I’ll cross the street if anyone comes down the same side as me. I live in a smaller town and i’ve grown up here so I feel somewhat safe. I’d feel safer if those bad people didn’t go out at night also – not just men.

  9. To say this post is sexist is probably the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Evil and violence are everywhere. Telling men to stop won’t do any good because this evil will always exist. It always has. Preparing women, heck, and men for protection against attackers is the best solution. To say this is sexist is a ridiculous accusation, seeing as he is only looking for the betterment of women. Seriously, feminists – get off your high horses.

    • I agree with you. I find it sad though that we only seem to make these classes or posts towards women on how to protect themselves. Personally I think more needs to go into education for the men as well. What makes them think it is okay to attack or make a woman feel endangered? I think it’s time to stop to fixing of the victim and to figure out why this violence is happening in the first place so women don’t have to go out and feel the need to be on defense just to walk to their car.

  10. First of all, anyone can be the victim of a crime if they happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Everyone should be aware of this and take precautions, like not walking alone at night through deserted areas. That being said, women are more vulnerable to attack because, generally speaking, an unarmed, untrained woman is an easier target than a similarly unarmed, untrained man. Sorry ladies, our size works against us. If that’s a problem for you, take it up with genetics, or learn karate. Yes it is sexist, but not on the part of the author of these tips; it’s sexists on the part of the men who would attack you at night (yeah,yeah a woman can rob you, too, but seriously, what are the odds?). The problem is, they don’t care that it’s sexist. You can’t shame them into treating you with respect. By the time they’ve cornered you and pulled the gun, that horse done run. They’ve already stopped seeing you as a person by that point. So yeah, they ARE the one’s with the problem, unfortunately they don’t care. It sucks that you do have to eye every stranger in the dark suspiciously, but you do. The ONLY variable you can control is you, so suck it up and learn how to protect yourself.

    • Nubiantigeress, I can see this subject is somewhat important for you, as your replies are numerous. And you are right about the genetics, our ‘size; works against us. But if you ask ‘what are the odds’ of a woman robbing you, I would ask you ‘what are the odds’ of a stranger in a bush attacking you? The statistics show that women are more likely to be attacked by someone they know. Not the mystical criminal/murderer behind the bush. Maybe, just maybe, it COULD make a difference with starting at the root: the attacker. And a lot of boys are raised by women. As WE see ourselves as weak, we teach our boys to see us as weak. Maybe genetics are against us, but we are Strong women. So I’m sorry, but I will not suck it up.

      • A very close friend of mine works in criminal justice. Researching the stats is her job. So unless you’re also a PhD candidate, I’ll have to go with her version of things. If she tells me that the chances of me being robbed in a certain part of town during a certain time of day (like in a park at night) is high, I’ll take her advice and take necessary precautions. If she tells me that I’m more likely to be mugged by a man than a woman, I’ll have to believe her, because she’s done the leg work. Have you? You do as you please and I sincerely hope it works out well for you. As for me, I won’t let my pride lead me to take stupid chances. Like I said, the only one I can control is me.
        Most people aren’t going to attack you. Most people are raised to know that stealing is wrong. And from my own experience I know that not everyone from a bad home is going to be a criminal. I also know that not everyone from a good home will avoid violence. Saying that crime can be irradiated by changing how a person is raised is an oversimplification of a very complicated problem that not only includes home life, but also education, poverty levels, mental health,etc. Ultimately everyone has a choice of whether or not they are going to be violent and against whom. I would hope that everyone I meet would choose not to be, but I’m also not going to gamble on who is or who isn’t going to assault me because I decided to walk alone through an area where I KNOW people have been attacked before. That’s like playing Russian Roulette. I don’t believe that everyone who walks through a park after dark or through a ‘shady’ neighborhood will be robbed by a stranger waiting in the bush, but I’m not surprised when I hear about someone who is. You can hope that the guy standing in the shadows will let you pass undisturbed, but why would you take an unnecessary chance to find out? You can’t trust everybody, and you certainly can’t predict who will be violent. All you can do is hope for the best and make sensible, informed choices.

        • Nubuantigress, can you post links to some of that research that says women are more likely to be attacked by a random stranger hiding in the bushes of a park than by someone they know?

          • Criss Forshay, I don’t think that nubuantigress is saying that you’re more likely to get attached by a random person than by someone you know. She’s (sorry if you aren’t a she) just trying to say that if you are randomly attacked that it’s more probable that it will be a male who attacks you. Statistically speaking that is true. Also, women are easier targets. I hate to say it but we are easier to target and males, as well as some females, see us as weak and defenseless with less likely hood of being trained and able to fight back. So in that sense, yes be careful on the street. Even if the chances of being randomly attacked were 1 in 1 million, which they aren’t, there would still have to be 1 person for every million people who, statistically speaking, had to get attacked. It’s like the lottery, eventually someone has to “win”.

    • Haha well said!!! For sure. Nothing wrong with protecting yourself. In the event of an attack, I bet 100% of women will be glad they chose to err on the safe side to be prepared.

  11. For anyone walking alone at night that doesn’t feel safe, I always try to use my phone. Call a friend or a family member and talk to them while you’re walking by yourself. Even if it’s late and no one is picking up pretend to talk to them, as silly as it sounds. However while you’re talking ALWAYS BE AWARE of your surroundings as well and make sure to tell your friends or family where you are heading so they know exactly where you are!!!

    • Yes for sure! Always being aware of your surroundings, while on your phone or not.. is a great tip.

  12. This is all good advice but I’m bothered that the most obvious precaution has not even been mentioned. About 2 years ago I got my CCW. I’m a single mom living in a not super great neighborhood so it’s comforting to me to know that if someone wanted to attack me or my children I would be able to defend us properly. Only once in my life have I ever felt genuinely threatened and that threat was neutralized instantly, not by brandishing a weapon but simply reaching for what could have been a weapon. I was in a parking lot at night being followed by a man who was watching me intently. I looked right at him and just put my hand in my purse. He literally did a 180 right there in the parking lot and went in the opposite direction. I never even pulled anything out of my purse, but he knew there was a chance I could hurt him back if he tried anything. I know a lot of people don’t like guns and that’s fine, it’s not for everybody. I have taken all the training required to carry in my state and I know how to properly store my weapon so my children do not have access to it. Knowing that it’s not just me that could be at risk, but also my children, stirred me to think very seriously about the safety of my family. I will not make any apologies for that.

  13. I keep my phone on 911, I also make sure someone knows where I am and when I should make it home and I communicate with the person until I arrive home. If I stop texting this person it’s a good sign something came up and I need assistance. I wouldn’t walk at night alone without a big dog, my boyfriend or bear mase

  14. I have a gun. I know how to use it. I inform someone where im going and when to expect me when im alone and i use the app citcle.of 6 to easily text if im in trouble it alerts the aithorities and friends with my gps location

  15. One thing that I would think should be clarified about weapons is the fact that not everyone has the comfort level to carry a weapon such as a gun or knife. That is why I remember that anything I might be carrying at any given moment could be used as a weapon. My friend who is very knowledgeable with weapons told me once how you can use your belt, keys, shoes, jewelry and shirt as a weapon. The keys were already shown in the video but it gives me or confidence in myself knowing that I can use things that I already have on me to protect myself. I know that I will invest in self defense classes too and communication with my husband as to where I am going and to any friends that I might be meeting up with to tell them I am on the way is very important too. I just hope that one day, my daughter will have the strength and confidence to walk the streets at night without fear of being attacked, verbally or physically.

  16. If I know I’ll be walking alone I’ll look up the streets I’ll have to take on my phones gps so I know how long it’ll take and all the possible places I could go to(if there are any) just incase. I usually avoid walking at night without my dog or another person, but if I’m alone I keep my phone in hand and make sure that I’m paying close attention to all of my surroundings.

  17. Be aware of your surroundings. Make eye contact with strangers. The more vulnerable you look, the more likely you will be attacked. Look confident even if you are nervous. Always carry your keys between your fingers. If need to defend yourself punching in the face with a fist full of sharp keys will help. Carry pepper spray ready to go in your hand. never walk where there are no street lights and mainly be aware of what’s going on around you!

  18. I love what you’re doing and this comment is meant with no disrespect, but what women really need from men is not more tips explaining how to avoid being assaulted, raped or harassed. We have enough of that already. We need men to take the lead and take responsibility for condemning and calling out the assaulters, rapists and harassers in our society. We need men like you in positions of power and influence to lead the way in condemning rape culture.

  19. Thank you for the safety tips I often feel afraid at night in general but I’m at home when scared of the dark please let me know if there’s something I should try

  20. I went to college in downtown Chicago a few years ago & when I got out of some classes it’d be 9:30 at night. When I took the subway I still had to walk to my house from there. One year a bunch of us took a defense & safety course through the school, both men & women in the class. We were told NOT to be on the phone walking to & from places at night because it makes you a much, much easier target -you’re distracted. Maybe this was because we lived in Chicago (some areas are fairly dangerous) & walked pretty far at night but I took that advice seriously, I think it made sense. Like someone else on here said, you can have your phone but keep it on 911.

  21. I would not say this post its sexist or show a woman as a potential victim, its a fact that us, women , should be aware that when walking along at night we can encounter these situations. One tip for safety might be when stepping off the bus at night watch who others get off with you, if there is some guy around the bus stop dont hurry to home directly, go to a grocery store or a place with people around. Dont be afraid to be seen as a paranoid.

  22. Alizarin,
    I agree with you! It’s time for the good men to take the lead and use their authority to stop these crimes from happening.

  23. Alizarin,
    I agree with you! It’s time for the good men to take the lead and use their authority to stop these crimes from happening.

    Also if we prefer to walk at night we must ALWAYS pay attention to our surroundings.
    I carry a bat and I know how to and I’m not afraid to use it.

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