There are an estimated 750,000 sex offenders living in the United States, according to World Atlas. They live in all states of the nation, in its cities, its suburbs, and perhaps even in your neighborhood. So how should you keep yourself safe?
Always Be Aware and Alert
Many victims of sexual assault say they never saw their attack coming. When you’re not aware of what’s going on around you, you become an easier mark. If you’re wearing headphones and listening to music, you can’t hear someone approaching you. If you’re paying attention to your smartphone, you might be similarly distracted. Being more alert and aware of your surroundings may deter a sex offender who may pass you by and look for someone who appears more vulnerable.
There are no guarantees of course, but your awareness will also serve you well if you are approached by a sex offender. Knowing where you are, including potential escape routes and what is around you to use as a weapon, could help you get yourself out of a sticky situation.
Avoid Isolated Areas
If there’s no one around you, it’s more difficult to get help if someone does attack you. Try to limit any time you spend in isolated areas like back alleys or rarely-used paths. If you have to go somewhere that’s far from people, ask a friend to go with you.
Most locations are busiest during the daytime. Running errands while it’s light, particularly during peak times, will also help you enjoy the added safety of crowds.
Remember this rule when you’re dating someone new, as well. That moonlit walk along the beach or picnic in the forest might sound romantic, but it could leave you vulnerable to an attack.
Don’t Weigh Yourself Down
You might feel you need an enormous tote bag or a mountain of groceries, but carrying that extra weight can leave you vulnerable to an attack. When you’re carrying these items, you’ll find it more difficult to run away or fight back, and sex offenders know it.
So what’s a modern girl to do? When it comes to your safety, less is more. Cast a critical eye over the contents of your handbag and leave behind anything you don’t really need. Downsize to a smaller cross-body bag that leaves your hands free and your body much lighter.
Visit the grocery store more often and buy fewer items rather than making one big trip. If you can’t fit more frequent trips into your schedule, drive to the store and shop during the day, when the parking lot is full. Make several trips to your front door rather than trying to carry all your bags inside at once. Sexual attacks can and do occur this close to home, so don’t drop your guard until you’re safely indoors.
Research Your Local Area
Researching your local area can tell you whether sexual assaults have taken place there recently. A simple Google search can usually unearth crime reports, including news stories about local sexual attacks. MyLocalCrime.com is another excellent research source. Simply enter an address, and the site will present a list of recent crimes and their locations. The site lists sexual attacks under assault, but you can find out whether an assault was sexual in nature by clicking the listed crime. You’ll get a more detailed explanation of the crime and whether the perpetrator was apprehended.
Conduct searches on the place you live, where you work, and any other locations you commonly go. If you’re planning to relocate, researching your intended destination and its crime levels can help you decide whether you’re making the right choice.
Check Whether Anyone You’re Concerned About Is a Sex Offender
The details of all sex offenders living in the United States are listed in the National Sex Offender Registry and state databases. Credible websites like CheckThem.com make it easy to check whether anyone you’re concerned about is a registered sex offender. You simply enter the person of interest’s full name into the CheckThem sex offender search engine. All searches are anonymous, so the person in question need never know you were checking up on them. Once you know the result, you’ll know whether your fears were unfounded or that you should avoid contact with the person you’re concerned about.
Party Safely With Friends
Parties are a sex offender’s paradise. People tend to drop their guard when they’re having a good time, making it easier for a sex offender to get close enough to strike. Making smarter party plans will help you have a great time without incident.
Go with a group of friends and pledge to keep an eye on one another. Arrive together and leave together. Check in with one another regularly through the night to ensure everyone is staying safe.
Go easy on the alcohol, too. It’s easier for sex offenders to take advantage when you’re intoxicated. Only drink within your limits. Eat a good meal before you step out to reduce the booze’s impact. Drinks still get spiked, so take steps to make sure you aren’t a victim. Never leave your drink unattended, as someone could slip a pill or liquid drug into it without your knowledge. You also shouldn’t accept any type of drink, including non-alcoholic ones, from someone you don’t know. It’s impossible to know whether it’s been spiked with drugs or more alcohol than you’d expect.
Trust Your Instincts
We all have a sixth sense that tells us when a situation or location feels unsafe. Listen to that little voice inside your head. Don’t just dismiss it, even if you think your fears might be unfounded. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you don’t feel good about where you are or who you’re with, get out before a problem occurs.
It’s scary to think you might cross paths with a sex offender near your home, your workplace, or while you’re on vacation. However, there are ways to reduce your risk. Follow the advice above to give yourself the best chance of staying safe.