As I read stories from fellow hobos and homeless individuals who have been mugged, disturbed during the night, or simply feel unsafe, I realize that my post on safety is long overdue!
Safety Starts with Awareness
While I do enjoy being outside, sometimes walking from A to B is nothing less than utterly boring, especially if one has walked a particular stretch hundreds of times already. I am guilty of reading, texting, and daydreaming during walks. The problem goes further than not being able to see who or what is coming your way, but predators look for distracted people; they know a distracted person makes an easy victim.
- The way you walk matters! Show confidence! Walk with your head high, make eye contact with people approaching you, and periodically scan your surroundings. Most importantly, walk with a purpose. Even if you are lost, keep a good pace and act as if you are in total control.
- Be aware of your valuables! Running around with your new smart phone sticking out of your pocket or bragging about that new laptop of yours isn’t a good idea. Period.
- Your clothes make a difference. Before you complain: Yes, I agree that everyone should be able to dress however one likes without having to fear negative consequences. However, here is a brutally honest reality check: If you are a homeless individual socializing in public with high heels, boobs ready to jump out of your shirt, and/or a skirt that has striking similarities to a belt, guess what! You are making yourself a target. Not only do you look as if you are into certain activities (I said, you LOOK like it, not you ARE like that), but you are also making yourself more vulnerable. I don’t care how good of a fighter you are, a tiny skirt and high heels will hinder your abilities to run and fight.
I wish we could roam this world together peacefully and undisturbed. Unfortunately, the world isn’t half as safe as I’d like it to be. Being prepared for the worst means several things:
- Ask What-If Questions. What if someone breaks into my vehicle while I am sleeping inside? What if there is someone out in the parking lot waiting for an opportunity? What if someone follows me to my sleeping spot? Don’t become overly paranoid and stress yourself out; just have a plan.
- Attend a self-defense class. A lot of my knowledge regarding awareness and basic fighting techniques stem from self defense courses I’ve attended. A popular and highly effective program to learn advanced street self defense is Krav Maga.
- Carry a weapon. Pepper spray and tasers can be highly effective weapons against your everyday criminal. Knives can also be useful IF you know how to use it. Carrying a gun isn’t something I’d suggest to everyone. Unless you regularly go shooting, know how to handle and disassemble your gun, hold a concealed weapons permit where required, and can hide the gun effectively while carrying and storing it, it would be more of a hassle and danger to utilize a gun as protection.
When shit hits the fan: Different types of predators
There are two main types of predators one should worry about:
Predator one is after your belongings. He wants your money, your watch, your cell phone, and maybe even your new Nikes if he is desperate enough. The safest option is to hand the robber your belongings and hope he leaves. Now, this is somewhat of a, excuse my language, white-middle-and upper-class advice. If you have just enough money to get yourself something to eat or if the predator is stealing your sleeping bag or other essential items, you are in serious trouble after the attack. Thus, consider the attacker: Is he “a kid” just trying to make some easy money or a junkie desperate for her next hit? Most importantly, is the attacker armed? If he has a gun, you´d be expressing a death wish by not just handing over the requested items. If she just threatens you with a beating, then you might have a chance resisting. Now, consider your options: Do you have your weapon of choice on hand? Do you feel confident enough that your fighting skills exceed the skills of your assailant?
Predator two is after you. This type of assailant wants to physically harm you. This could be someone you know who is trying to rough you up or force you into performing sexual acts. Or a stranger who sees an opportunity to satisfy whatever twisted longings he has. Don´t make the stranger danger mistake! Most violence occur between people who know each other! If you are in danger of being raped, hurt, or killed, make sure to face the person (unless you can escape right then), establish eye contact, lift up your hands in a defensive-yet-confident-manner, and say loudly something along the lines of “Back off” and “You don´t want to fight me”. If you are being attacked, fight with every last thing you got. Don´t be an easy target. Rapists in particular tend to want easy targets; don´t think you are doing yourself a favor by simply giving up. FIGHT! You don´t just want to try to escape. You want to beat the snot out of the person and then run like hell.
What to do after an attack?
Before you do anything else, get to a safe place. If you’ve been hurt but can still move, try to hide yourself in a building, bush, heck – anywhere really. You don’t want the attacker, or another predator, to come back and find you. Then, call 911.
I am aware that this is a rather limited guide. Please be aware that these are the basics of staying safe. Here is another simple self defense guide.
Take care and stay safe out there!