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Expert offers personal safety tips

Posted by Karyn Polewaczyk  July 26, 2013 06:00 PM

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The recent attacks in South Boston are not only sad and troubling; they’ve put our city’s residents on edge, especially women, many of whom are quoted in this Boston.com story as being “petrified” to walk alone. I felt especially shaken by Amy Lord’s brutal abduction and murder: I recently moved from South Boston to Brookline, and learned that Amy lived literally just around the corner from my former apartment. The thought that what happened to her could have happened to anyone I know is chilling.

However, I firmly believe that we can’t let these horrific events prevent us from continuing on with our lives. For example, I recently wrote a post about the pleasures of walking home after a night out. Going out at night, especially as a single woman, always comes equipped with its chances; it requires vigilance and awareness, especially in light of the attacks. And regardless of your gender, what time of day it is or which neighborhood you live in, there are precautions anyone can take to ensure his or her personal safety.

Ultimate Self-Defense & Performance Center (12 B Street, South Boston) is offering free self-defense classes to female residents of South Boston every Monday and Wednesday evening, from 7 to 8 PM, in August. Contact the dojo directly to sign up and for additional details.

Krav Maga Yashir (200 Terminal Street, Charlestown) offers free self-defense classes for women every Saturday morning from 10 to 11 AM. Advance sign-up is required.

Pepper spray and mace permits can be obtained through the Boston Police Department (application and fee are required), though the organization neither encourages nor discourages residents from obtaining either, and recommends that users follow manufacturer's instructions carefully, as the spray can be used against them.

I also spoke with Gershon Ben Keren, head instructor with Krav Maga Yashir, who offered several guidelines as a starting point when considering your own personal safety.

Walk tall, confidently and with purpose. Try to move your arms and legs in a fluid manner, so that you appear well-coordinated.

Don’t talk on your mobile phone. It serves as a distraction, and a predator isn’t concerned that someone might know where you are. Individuals can gravely underestimate the speed at which a violent assault can occur. Instead, pay attention to your surroundings.

If you believe someone is following you, don’t be afraid to turn around and confront them by asking if they’re following you. If someone has the intention of assaulting you, you’ll likely catch them off-guard.

If driving, don’t use your car’s remote to locate your car. Flashing lights from a remote starter/lock can indicate to a potential predator that you’re unaware of your surroundings. Try your best to remember where you’ve parked—write down a description of the area before you leave your car if necessary.

Trust your instincts. If something feels unsafe about a situation—whether you’re with a group of people or by yourself—follow your instincts and remove yourself from that environment as quickly as possible.

You can also listen to Keren discuss additional self-defense tips in his interview with WBUR here.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About this blog

Karyn Polewaczyk lives and writes in Boston, and believes that heading out into that good night, like any adventure, begins with the first step. Let's Go Out is a conversation about dating and nightlife in our notoriously chilly city, with first-hand tips from the trenches. Karyn's writing, which focuses largely on women's lifestyle topics, has appeared in the Weekly Dig, Jezebel, xoJane, Northshore Magazine and More.com, among others. Follow her on Twitter at @KarynPolewaczyk.

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