This is a re-run of a post I did several years ago, but it is also one that I feel is timeless.  It’s longer than most posts, but if it can help anyone, in any way, then it is well worth reading again…

 

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I’ve gotten to the point where I just hate to pick up a newspaper or watch the news on television. It seems to me there is a story every single day about the creepy crawlies (heretofore referred to as either the C.C.s or the CC Society) that slither into the night to harm or kill anyone they come in contact with. The hatred is palpating, the evil resonates with the echo of every footstep. As a Farm Wife in a rural area most of the time I am inside the house, if not already in bed, during the dark hours of the night. There are times that I am out in the barn or in the pasture keeping watch over a cow that is getting ready to deliver, or on a coyote hunt. But there are those other, more rare, occasions that I am actually on the road alone. It’s times like these that I am overly aware of the C.C.s that lurk in the dark corners. Consequently, I am also hyper-aware of my own safety. And plan to stay safe and alive all the way home.

There are women out there who are out after dark on a daily basis, due to jobs or family matters. On a couple of occasions I’ve seen women who have put themselves in extremely dangerous situations, and don’t even blink an eye. I want to stop my car and give them the lecture of their life then haul them somewhere safe. Unfortunately, it isn’t only men who are members of the CC Society.

The question is – how do we protect ourselves? Is a gun really the only option? Although a gun is a great solution, having one also brings its own problems. Do you really know how to use it? Are you really willing to take another human life, just to protect your own? It’s easy to say you will, but once faced with that split-second decision it may not be as simple as you think. I had the privilege, many years ago, to go through a Women’s Safety course given by a female officer with the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s office. Although she did not teach us how to shoot a gun, she did go over some very basic safety rules about them. One of the first things she said was, “If you ever have a reason to pull a gun, then you better make sure you are able to pull the trigger. Never, ever, pull a gun without the intent to use it.” The way I heard that was, a gun better not be a threat – it better be a promise. I do carry a gun, and I do know how to use it. If I ever had to pull it, I strongly believe that I would definitely pull the trigger to stop the threat. Is it my first choice? No. But it is a choice I would make.

So what would be my first choice? What are some ways I can protect myself without using a firearm? Below I’ve listed some of the things I do – day or night, because there are some C.C.s that don’t care if they have the cover of darkness. These are simple habits that you can start incorporating in your daily (and nightly) life to help you get out of a dangerous situation.

1)     Do not travel at night alone, if at all possible. If you work and have to walk to your car, ask the security officer or other employees to walk with you. And don’t park out in the back forty. If you are required to park well away from the building, ask for permission to move your car closer right before it gets dark. Any employer in his right mind will not refuse you – they really don’t want the liability issue. If they do, ask for an escort to your car.

2)     Have to go get groceries? Wait until daylight or when you have someone else in the car with you (and not your 10 year old child). I know most businesses are well lit for the most part, but being alone in a parking lot after hours is just asking for trouble. Know that your children need milk the next morning? Either get up extra early to go get it, or drive through a McDonald’s or Wendy’s and buy the pint-sized cartons. It may cost a little more, but isn’t your life worth a lot more? Hungry and nothing to eat at the house? This is definitely one time I would advocate a drive through. If you want to eat a little healthier than a cheeseburger and fries, most fast food places now offer a salad. Or better yet, just fast. It won’t hurt any of us to miss a meal, and it may give us a greater appreciation for when we do sit down to eat.

3)     Keep your car doors locked at all times, and keep your windows rolled up. Do not turn the radio up full blast, and if possible, (with a hands free phone option) call a friend or relative and talk to them all the way home. Let them know your location and especially if you have to stop for a red light, let them know the cross streets. If someone approaches your car while stopped, blow the horn long and often, and if possible and you can do it safely (no oncoming traffic) run that light. You may get a ticket, but I personally would rather pay the ticket than have a gun or knife at my throat.

4)   If you absolutely have to stop and get gas or groceries or medicine (too often children get sick at night and you have no choice but to go to the all-night pharmacy) do it safely. After you have pulled into the parking lot, drive around the cars to see if you notice anyone sitting down between the cars, or anyone just sitting in one. If you see someone sitting down on the pavement – hidden between cars, either call the police or the management of the store. It may end up being a false alarm, but still, better safe than sorry. Choose a space not only as close to the door as possible, but also one that is not between two other cars. Once you have located a seemingly safe pull in (better yet, back in to the space just in case you need to get away fast), but before you have put your car in park or turned off your car, look around you again. If there is someone walking through the lot, wait until they get in their car. Make sure you look behind you and down at the ground.   Once you get out of the car, make sure you lock it and walk quickly inside the store. Stop long enough to check out your surroundings. If anything looks wonky, get out, get back to your car and leave. If you happen to interrupt a burglary in progress, and you haven’t been noticed yet, leave immediately, get to your car and leave. Call the police as soon as possible to alert them to a robbery in progress.

5)     While in a store (day or night), and if nothing looks out of place, continue to be aware of your surroundings at all times. Keep your purse close to you – not in a shopping cart.   And keep your cell phone, money, credit cards, keys and driver’s license in your pocket. I have a small coin purse that has just enough room in it for all but my keys and phone. That way I don’t have the concern of having my purse stolen. Yes, I carry one, but the things in it are not as vital to me if they are stolen. I’ve watched women in Wal Mart who have their purses ‘latched’ into the safety belt for children, then turn their backs for several minutes while checking out the merchandise. I have to chuckle. Even I, if I had a sharp pocket knife, could slice through that strap and be gone with the purse in mere seconds. If I was an experienced burglar, I could do it so quietly you would never know I’m in the store. If someone does come up and grab your purse, scream at the top of your lungs and drop it on the floor. At the time Sherry was teaching her class, clutch purses were very popular. She suggested carrying it upside down and the latch not securely fastened. If someone grabbed the purse, it would come open and everything would fall on the ground. No thief is going to want to stop long enough to scoop up the items with a ton of witnesses and a woman screaming her head off. More than likely they’ll have lost a second or two just being stunned.

6)     Do not walk alone at night. If your car breaks down on a deserted road, leave the car and take cover. Call 911 and alert them to your location, then take that safety blanket and a bottle of water (that I know you carry in your car at all times), and go hide in the trees along the road. Keep 911 on the phone, let them know what you are doing, and that you are about to go ‘silent’ – answering in quiet ‘yeses’ or ‘no’s’ if asked a question. And always keep your car full of gas. I fill mine up when it hits half a tank.

7)     One of the times I am most aware of my surroundings is when I’m headed home from a Bunco night. It’s usually well after 9 or 10 before I get home. On my trip, there is a stretch of over 15 miles that is basically deserted, with a single home (two of which are set way back from the road) only once every five miles or so. My biggest concern is being stopped for some moving violation, so I make sure I travel the speed limit and keep my vehicle in working order (all my lights work at all times). Still, I lived during the ‘Blue Light Rapist’ – some idiot who masqueraded as a police officer and stopped lone women on quiet stretches of road. If I do see flashing lights behind me, I continue driving, only cut my speed by 5 miles an hour and immediately call 911. I give them my location and situation. They have the ability to check to see if there are any officers in that area, and if so, if they are the ones trying to pull me over.   If they are not legitimate, I am still on the move and the 911 operator will notify any other officers in the area. I will then either follow the instructions of the 911 operator, or will do anything in my power to alert any household I might be passing by blowing my horn constantly. I may speed back up a little, but at no time will I speed excessively – I will do everything in my power to keep full control of my car. And do a lot of praying. If the officer is legitimate, then I will let the 911 operator know that I am aware I am being pulled over, but will not do so until I reach the safety of the next town or well-lit and populated area. Any officer in their right mind will understand and be accepting of that. However, I will slow down to let the officer behind me know that I am not trying to escape – just insuring my safety. He may not be happy about it, but if he gets ugly, just ask him if he has a wife, mother, sister or child at home. Do it very politely, but a reminder such as that may just cool his anger a bit.

8)   Weapons – I’ve already discussed carrying a firearm. My advice is to do it with full knowledge that it is a dangerous thing and if you carry one, be prepared to use it. There will be serious law based consequences that you’ll have to face, but still I’d rather face the police alive, than the coroner dead. Another thing you can use is your car keys. As you walk across that parking lot, have a key between each of your fingers with the sharp ends pointed out. Go for the eyes or throat, but only if you have a clear shot. Use your voice. Scream ‘Fire’ or ‘911’. If they grab you, fight, and fight hard.   If you are being chased, run in a zig zag pattern with no rhyme or reason. Scream the entire time.   I have also been known to keep a knitting needle in my purse. A good sturdy metal one can punch a very painful hole in a throat, eye (your first choices) the heart, ear or temple (second choice) or the groin or kidney (last choice – a man will protect that area first). Also know that the flat of your hand is a good weapon – with your palm facing his face, shove your hand hard into his nose with an upward swing. If you aren’t strong enough to shove the nasal bone into his brain, you will at least break it and cause him some extreme pain.

9)     If you feel you are being followed, don’t try to go home. Instead, head to the nearest police or fire station. If you head to the fire station, be aware that most of them keep their doors locked at night. Call ‘911’ and alert them to your destination – they will call that station and let them know you are coming. If you are headed to the police station, call anyway and ask for an officer to be waiting at the front door. If you pull up at the police station, more than likely your follower will not pursue you there. If they do, then the officer will be able to stop them. If possible, get a description of the car and the license number, but if it isn’t an easy thing to do, just keep driving.

10)     If you do feel as if you’ve been followed and you head first to the nearest police or fire station, ask for a police officer to follow you home. If there is a family member there, alert them to the problem. If you live alone, once there, ask the officer to check out your home. Make sure all doors and windows are securely locked. Once the officer has left, keep your phone close by and keep a light on in the living room or kitchen.

None of these suggestions are a sure fire way to protect yourself. Not one of them will stop a speeding bullet. The best way to protect yourself is to never put yourself in danger. If you have no choice but to go out at night, keep 911 on speed dial and try following some of these practices. Another option I fully advocate is to take a women’s safety course. If you feel you still need a gun, then take a gun safety course, practice until you are more than comfortable using it, and then keep up the practice.

I have no desire to meet up with a member of the CC Society ever, but if I find that I have, or am about to, my first choice is to call 911 and do everything possible to remove myself from the situation. Always be aware of your surroundings and get in and out of a store quickly. Stand up straight and stay alert.

I hope these tips have been helpful. As always, I am open to other suggestions and ideas. As a Farm Wife, I have too much to do on the farm to be slack in my safety. Even here on the farm I am well aware of all the dangers. I carry a flashlight and a gun into the barn and pasture. Randy is not always with me, so I walk carefully but quickly to my destination, shining my light around everywhere. And out here, my voice is probably one of my strongest weapons – I can yell loud enough to send Randy, George and other neighbors at a run at any given time of day or night. The stillness adds to my voice’s strength – it’s so open-spaced out here that my scream will echo. If you don’t believe me, just listen to the coyotes at night. There are times they sound like they are at our back door, when really they are a mile off.

My prayer for you is that you are always safe and that the C.C.S, if you ever do encounter them, see you as more of a threat than prey. But hopefully you will be safely tucked in your bed at night having sweet dreams and not out in the dark. Of course, if you just want to be out after hours, then head on over to the farm. I’ve been hearing the coyotes yodeling and I can always use another set of eyes to sit in the barn and watch. While you’re out there, I’ll be the one tucked into bed, dreaming of fertile soil, fresh veggies and a batch of waffles for breakfast!