More so than ever, we are living in a world where society is more aware of marginalised groups. We are seeing slow but progressive change for more inclusion and steps to make reparations for previous mistakes made.
However, studies have shown that with more awareness of these groups, there has been an increase of hate crimes directed to these groups in the form of harassment, violence and total discrimination across the board. A survey conducted by Stop Street Harassment revealed that 81% of women experienced some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime. Similarly, LGBTQ+ individuals and ethnic minorities also reported facing increased threats to their safety, making nighttime walks a vulnerable time for many.
Understanding the specific safety concerns faced by marginalised groups is crucial in finding effective solutions. A lot of Women often fear walking alone nowadays due to the pervasive threat of harassment, while LGBTQ+ individuals may encounter verbal abuse or physical violence based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Ethnic minorities may be at risk of racial profiling and targeted attacks, making them feel unsafe in certain neighbourhoods. We cannot continue to ignore these issues.
Amidst these challenges, there is an empowering aspect to taking charge of personal safety. By inputting practical strategies and being informed about potential risks, marginalised individuals can reclaim a sense of control over their well-being. Walksafe+ have created an app that allows this, allowing users to plan and set up preventative controls to enable more autonomy and how users manage their personal safety.
Empowerment also comes from community support. Creating awareness and engaging in conversations about nighttime safety fosters a collective effort to address these issues. Together, we can work towards creating safer environments that respect and protect the rights of all individuals, regardless of their identity. Here are just a few ways we can do this:
One significant aspect to consider is the difference in safety concerns faced by marginalised individuals. This refers to the overlapping and sometimes confusing effects of multiple identities, such as being a woman of colour or a LGBTQ+ individual from an ethnic minority group.
For instance, a transgender person of colour may face discrimination and violence based on both their gender identity and race. These compounded prejudices can lead to increased vulnerability during evening walks, making it essential to address safety concerns in a comprehensive and inclusive manner.
So how do we combat this? Understanding the specific risks and differences of safety concerns will lay the foundation for developing effective strategies. We have a few ideas below that you can incorporate alongside the Walksafe+ app to create and develop a safety plan for when you are out and about.
Before heading out on an evening walk, it’s wise to plan your route carefully. Consider using mapping apps that provide real-time information about areas with higher crime rates, allowing you to make informed decisions about your route. By planning ahead, you can reduce the likelihood of encountering risky situations during your evening walk.
The Walksafe+ unique crime map feature can help when planning routes for evening walk through unknown areas to avoid crime hotspots and areas where one might not want to walk through on a dark night.
Always let a trusted friend, family member, or neighbour know about your evening walk. Share the route you intend to take and the estimated time of your return. This simple step can be crucial in case of an emergency or if you don’t return on time. This is something that is incorporated into the Walksafe+ app.
If you’re walking with a group or a walking buddy in the evening, ensure that someone outside the group knows about your plans. This way, you create an additional layer of safety and support, knowing that someone is keeping track of your well-being.
When heading out on an evening walk, never forget your charged phone. A fully charged mobile device serves as a lifeline in case of emergencies, allowing you to call for help or access safety apps with just a tap.
Another valuable safety tool to carry is a personal alarm. These compact devices emit a loud, attention-grabbing sound when activated, deterring potential attackers and drawing the attention of passersby. Personal alarms are lightweight, easy to carry, and can provide an added sense of security during your evening walks.
Encountering confrontations during an evening walk can be distressing. However, being prepared with de-escalation techniques and knowing when and how to seek help can empower you to navigate these situations with confidence. Here are some effective techniques to employ:
Stay Calm: When faced with a tense situation, try to remain calm and composed. Avoid reacting with anger or fear, as it may further escalate the situation.
Use Active Listening: Pay close attention to the person’s concerns and emotions. Acknowledge their feelings, and validate their experience, even if you disagree with them.
Empathise and Show Understanding: Show empathy and understanding towards the other person’s perspective. Sometimes, acknowledging their point of view can help diffuse their anger. This in no way legitimises their actions, but will quickly de-escalate a potentially violent situation if needs be.
Speak Calmly and Respectfully: Use a calm and respectful tone while communicating. Avoid aggressive language or gestures that might provoke the other person. Again, this does not legitimise their actions, this is to calm them down and reduce the risk of them hurting you.
Make sure when reporting incidents like this make sure you explain why you acted the way you did to ensure authorities understand why you’re reporting an incident and explaining you talked respectfully and calmly to your attacker.
Create Space: If possible, create physical space between you and the other person to reduce tension. Stepping back can prevent a situation from escalating physically.
Recognizing when to seek help from others around you is essential for ensuring your safety. If you feel uncomfortable or threatened, don’t hesitate to reach out to passersby or people in nearby establishments for assistance. Some ways to do this include:
Enter a Public Space: If you’re feeling unsafe on an evening walk, move towards a well-lit area with other people, such as a cafe, store, or restaurant.
Ask for Help: Approach someone you trust, like a security guard, store employee, or another pedestrian, and explain the situation calmly. They might be able to provide support or call for help if needed.
Use Non-verbal Signals: If you’re unable to talk openly due to fear or risk, use non-verbal signals to indicate that you need help. For instance, making eye contact or nodding at a passerby can signal distress.
By being equipped with de-escalation techniques, understanding when to seek help, and reporting incidents promptly, you are taking proactive steps to protect yourself and others in the community. Remember, your safety matters, and reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
It’s essential to reiterate the significance of prioritising personal safety during evening walks. Safety should never be compromised, and every individual, regardless of their identity, has the right to move freely and confidently through public spaces.
Empowerment lies at the core of personal safety. By equipping ourselves with knowledge, practising de-escalation techniques, and utilising safety tools, we can increase our confidence and resilience. Empowerment also involves recognizing our rights and boundaries, asserting ourselves, and seeking help when needed.
Creating safer neighbourhoods is a collective responsibility that requires solidarity and support from all community members. By engaging in open conversations about safety, addressing concerns, and fostering a culture of empathy and respect, we can build a sense of unity and shared responsibility.
Stay safe, stay empowered, and keep walking with confidence! You can apply all the above steps in the Walksafe+ app. The app has multiple personal safety plan features that allow you to work less about planning and more about enjoying your life.