Defending Yourself at Home
More than half of all rapes and a great percentage of robberies, assaults, and murders happen in the home. Defend your home or apartment like a castle:
• Get a dog. Most criminals avoid homes with dogs. Some breeds provide better defense than others, so do some research.
• Keep your windows clear of shrubbery, which can hide a burglar or rapist while he is jimmying your window.
• Get outdoor motion sensor lights.
• Consider installing an alarm system made by a reputable security company.
• Join your Neighborhood Watch program, or form one if it doesn’t already exist.
• Keep your valuables out of easy sight and away from ground-floor windows.
• Make sure that your garage door is secure. Many thieves and violent criminals gain access this way.
• Have a peep sight and/or an intercom system installed in your front and rear door. Don’t open your door for anyone. If someone at your door is in an emergency, call 911 for them. Rapists, robbers, and murderers often use this ruse. They may pose as plumbers, letter carriers, or telephone or power company employees. They may be women or children with adult male backup. Fake injuries are also used to get past your front door.
• If you reach the door to your house or apartment and the key won’t go into the lock or your entry is damaged, get away immediately and call the police. Don’t enter your home without the police checking it out first.
• If you’re on your way home and suspect you’re being followed, verify this by making four left or right turns around a block. If the vehicle is still behind you, don’t go home. Criminals will simply follow and jump you in your own driveway. Drive to the local police or fire department or some other highly public area. Use your cell phone and call 911.
• Reinforce your bedroom door with a secure lock to slow down an intruder. Keep a cell phone and gun (that you’ve been trained to use) by the bed. A shotgun has the highest deterrent value, and anyone with an ounce of brains will run when they hear it cocked. This may seem extreme but think of the simple logic: If the intruder is not discouraged by motion lights, alarms, and a dog and is still determined to get in, you’ve got a serious problem. All the previously listed obstacles and the reinforced door are meant to slow down an intruder; having a cell phone gets around a cut phone line. You know what the gun’s for. If it’s come to this, don’t hesitate to empty your gun into the intruder.
• Create an escape plan. The advice so far is good if you’ve got no children, or there’s no other exit. If you do have children or another way out, remember that the first line of defense is awareness, and the second is escape. Create and practice an evacuation plan for your entire family. Everybody needs to try to get out through the nearest window or door and get a neighbor’s attention.
Pepper spray has limited effectiveness against an enraged and determined attacker. In John Perkins’ personal experience, it has worked only about half the time, even when it’s shot straight in the eyes at close range. Use pepper spray in conjunction with a defensive strategy: spray and run, or spray, hit, and run. Here are more commonsense tips for jogging safely:
• Never jog with headphones on-you jeopardize your awareness, making yourself a sitting duck.
• Stay away from unlit, thick shrubbery adjacent to trails and paths. Remain at least 10 feet (3 m) away from the sides of buildings and parked cars as you round blind corners. This can provide the critical space you need to defend yourself against an ambush.
• Do not jog alone.
• Vary your jogging times and routes. Predictability aids a predator’s planning.
• Wear a personal alarm that you can set off with one hand.
• If you believe at any time you’re being followed by a vehicle as you’re out jogging, turn around immediately and run in the opposite direction-preferably toward home or another secure area. Don’t be assertive. Don’t be coy. Just get out of there!
Awareness can prevent you from getting into other potentially hazardous situations, from entering a strange bar at 4:00 a.m. on New Year’s Eve to leaving your drink unattended (and susceptible to a date-rape drug cocktail). In addition to the awareness guidelines provided throughout this chapter, two excellent books that promote self-defense awareness are Strong on Defense by Sanford Strong and The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker.