After-Dark Safety

Here are some practical tips on how to keep safe after dark.

There are so many things we think about before going out at night. Will that sexy DJ be at the club? Are these gorgeous heels going to be comfortable to dance in? But the most important thing we should be thinking about is usually the last thing we consider: our safety. Here are some practical tips on how to keep safe after dark.

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* ‘Get your own drinks,’ says COSMO’s self-defence expert Sanette Smit. However, if a guy wants to buy you a drink, go with him to the bar and order something in a bottle (safer). Do not leave your drink on the table when dancing – it makes it very easy for someone to spike it.’

* ‘It’s advisable not to get drunk at clubs,’ says police spokesperson Elliot Sinyangana. ‘You need to be in control of your senses. How can you be in control of the situation if you are not in control of yourself?’ If you are planning to drink, though, make sure that you stay with your friends. Ask your designated driver to keep an eye out for creepy men.

* ‘If a guy says he needs to talk to you but the music is too loud and you must go outside, take your friends with you or don’t go at all,’ says Smit. ‘Many gang rapes are set up like this.’

Related: Don’t be a target


* ‘Trust your intuition at all times,’ says Smit. ‘This applies to any time of the day and night. Your gut instinct is seldom wrong.’

* ‘Try to avoid driving alone late at night,’ says Sinyangana. If you must, though, do not come to a complete stop at traffic lights. ‘Approach intersections slowly,’ says Smit. ‘If the lights are red, pause and look around to make sure that no cars are coming, then move on.’

* ‘When you arrive home, reverse into your driveway so that you can escape quickly should someone approach you,’ says Sinyangana. ‘If you notice someone suspicious hanging around your house, rather drive past and contact your local police station.’

* ‘If you jog before or after work, be wary of the ‘confidence’ style of attack,’ says Smit. ‘This is when the same man jogs past you every morning using the same route as you. He greets you and you get used to seeing him. You may even feel safe having him around. This could cause you to let your guard down. Don’t. ‘If he’s a possible attacker or rapist, he’ll have gained your confidence, enabling him to attack when you least expect it.’

Related: Safe dating

* ‘Each attack situation is different, which means that you need to be prepared for any scenario,’ says Smit. ‘I believe that fighting back will give you a very good chance of survival, because most men do not expect women to fight back. However, only you can assess the tactics that are the most appropriate in the situation. Ask yourself: what is the surface of the floor – is it grass, ground, carpet, road or stairs? What is the attacker wearing? What are you wearing? Which angle is the attack coming from? Does he have a weapon or not?’

* ‘If the attacker is in range, for example if he grabs your throat, hit his sensitive areas – the nose, throat, ears, eyes and groin are good target areas to strike,’ says Smit. ‘Use your maximum power and speed when striking. Be committed and don’t give up. Keep going until you have succeeded.’

For more information about self-defence workshops, phone Sanette Smit on 021 461 0036 or visit Selfdefence.co.za.

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