Being Alone, Protecting Yourself In Public Places


Illustration by Katie Blazek

Jacqueline Flickinger

Illustration by Katie Blazek

With the overwhelming number of true crime documentaries flooding Netflix, it’s no wonder why we are more paranoid than ever about staying safe. In 2020, it’s vital to be aware of your surroundings, specifically as a woman, and most importantly when you are alone. But, there are plenty of ways to ensure you’re less easily targeted.

We all check Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and TikTok numerous times a day. And that’s okay! But there are situations when checking your phone is just not safe. For one, never walk to your car staring at your phone. Throw your phone into your pocket and be aware of where you’re walking. You’re less likely to be targeted if you’re vigilant of everything around you so you cannot be caught off guard. Put your phone away. It can wait until you get into your car.

Getting into your car safely is just the first step. If you do check your phone once you reach your car in a dark, or deserted parking lot, lock your doors. There is always that small chance someone is waiting for the perfect moment to enter the car when you’re alone. Also, don’t be afraid to take it a step further and check your backseat before entering. 

This advice also applies when pumping gas. Do not talk on the phone or walk away from your vehicle. Lock your car doors when refueling, as someone can easily enter your vehicle when you aren’t paying attention.

Another part of this is to never park far away from a door at night, as well as not parking in dark spots in parking lots. Ensure your safety by being aware of where you’re located and not to deviate too far.

Daylight doesn’t always ensure your own safety, especially as a young person. Find a buddy when doing things like running outside, visiting parks and taking long trips across states. 

The most important tip as provided by true crime podcasters Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgarif is to stay out of the forest. Whether it is night or day, traveling alone in the woods is a high-risk situation. Travel with a group of people or send your friends and family your location. Communication is necessary when traveling to remote areas by yourself. 

Telling people where you’re going is extremely important if you’re running errands alone. Tell a friend or a family member where you plan on being and what time you expect to be back. This gives you assurance that if something were to happen to you, someone has your back. 

Most importantly, carry something to protect yourself. A bottle of mace is affordable and can hang easily on a lanyard or keychain. There is also a product called a Kitty Cat Claw, which provides a sharp protective edge, but is cute too! 

However, if you do find yourself a victim of one of these situations, there are ways to cope. The most important thing is to remember that it is never your fault. There is no situation in which you instigate an attack. Traveling in groups, communicating with others and staying vigilant lowers your risk of being targeted. And remember the fault always lies with the attacker. 

Thankfully, there are resources on Kent State Universities’ Campus as well as in the surrounding Portage county area that can help you or someone you know recover. Town Hall II is within walking distance of campus and provides counseling, and victims advocacy programs. Kent State also offers mental health services which you can find through the Deweese Health Center website under psychological services. And if you still need more support off-campus, Coleman Professional Services and Safe Path are good options. 

Keep yourself safe, and remember you never have to be alone.