Every morning I (almost grudgingly) wake up by 4:30 to prep for work. I try to leave in an hour’s time, but by then its still dark. Instead of taking the short cuts to the bus stop, I prefer to walk the longer route where I know that if something happens – God forbid – at least Its right in the open and not in some hidden place, and maybe someone else passing by can change the turn of events. I could even see it coming and decide to do something about it before it gets worse.
Sometimes I like to stay behind after work and watch a movie or grab a drink with friends and by the time I’m ready to leave the island and head for home (usually 8ish), I’m worried about the bus I head into, the people in the bus, the route the bus takes home, the people walking behind me…
Paranoid stuff? Maybe not. After being involved in the one-chance episode, you can’t blame a sister for being extra cautious. Just a few weeks ago I heard that two girls were being robbed at gun point just next to my house, at 7am. 7am! Compare that to the time I leave my house, and you’ll see reason. Also living in a city that was plagued with insecurity for several years, and being a member of the Man O’War in University has made me very aware of my surroundings and the desire to keep safe. Sometimes I go to events and I look for exit routes, or I go into a bus and I wonder if I can squeeze through the window! haha, that’s some serious G.I. Jane stuff, but I think it helps so I am not at a loss just in case anything happens.
It’s all over the news: women and young girls being raped everyday. Bag snatchers and molesters are all over, lurking for the next helpless woman they can find. It not only scares me, it angers me. So I’ve been thinking… what can a sister do about it? How exactly can you try to keep yourself safe from avoidable danger?
Watch your steps: Be careful of the routes to you take when leaving or returning to your home alone. Make sure they are not secluded or hidden , are well-lit and can give you a good view of people walking in front of and behind you. I have a torch that I carry along since I don’t see so well in the dark and it’s not like there are street lights in my area *rolling eyes*
Secure Bags & belongings: The trendy way in which we carry our bags can make us a target for bag snatchers and pick pockets. try to keep your bag as close to you as possible, with the side zips or pockets facing you. Once you are seen paying attention to your belongings, you reduce the chances of being a potential target.
Not every ride is safe: In the day time its okay to rush into a bus without looking out for the aura of the bus passengers, but once it starts getting late, please my darlings, be wary. One Chance is real! Take your time to look at the type of bus you’re going into. Some of the passengers look suspicious and once you notice that, skip that bus. The same goes for cabs. If necessary get a friend to write down the plate number of the cab and check the boot of the car to be sure no-one else is hiding in it, then sit in a corner that will allow you see all the moves the cab driver takes
Trust your instincts: You are not paranoid. When you feel you shouldn’t go into a bus, cab or car, don’t. If you feel that guy has been walking behind you for too long, switch lanes or let him walk past you.
Speed Dial: Keep important numbers on speed dial so that if you suspect anything all you need do is hit a button to make that emergency call.
Learn some self-defense: Yes, please do. You don’t need to be tall or strong to know some basic steps. You can use You-tube to learn or better still find a fitness trainer specialized in the act. If you are interested in getting in touch with a Taekwondo tutor here in Lagos, email for more details!
Buy security gadgets: My brother-in-law was kind enough to buy pepper spray for anyone who has to be out of the house at unusual hours, i.e me. It’s always in my hand when I leave the house and I don’t return it to my bag until I’m safe in a crowd. Left to me I’d prefer the stun gun, cause it doesn’t need you to aim at the face. Just anywhere in the attacker’s direction and presto, you’d have bought some time to escape! If you need more info on how to purchase any of that within Nigeria feel free to again send me an email and I’ll do just that, or click here for pepper spay and stun gun purchases. Be careful that you do not use these things except in self defense!
Keep calm: It won’t pay off if you lose your cool during what seems to be an attack. You need your wits to think and get yourself out of the situation. Your attacker feeds off your panic and will be encouraged to do worse if you do. It helps to ask yourself now: What would I do if faced with this?” That way you can have an idea of how to tackle the situation.
Yes, I know it’s easier said than done but you need to be brave for yourself and y our loved ones. I remember how mad I was at myself after getting robbed in a bus, and I asked myself several times what would I have done differently? The truth is that there was nothing I would’ve done although I kept my calm and even tried negotiating with them, haha! The situation is always different but what maters is how you are able to focus and think fast.
I hope and pray that each and every one of you out there never falls a victim… If you have more suggestions, go on and use the comment space. Please, be safe!