Tips For Easing Your Fears As A Woman Living Alone

In the United States there are 2.5 million burglaries a year, according to the FBI, and the U.S. Department of Justice reports that 66% of those are home invasions (via The Zebra). We're not trying to scare you,  but you were probably thinking about that already if you're a woman living alone. Still, being scared isn't the most helpful emotion when you're looking at safety. Awareness is, so let's talk about some tips you can use to keep yourself safe. Having an action plan is a great way to reduce your fear and give you peace of mind. 

You may have learned a lot of tips just by living as a woman in the world, like making sure your car keys are in your hand before you hit the parking garage and that you should look under your car and in the backseat before you get in. You likely know to have house keys in your hand the same way, keep an eye on anyone walking too close behind you, and leave a spare key only with someone you trust implicitly and not under a rock or in a flower pot. You might even carry pepper spray and/or a whistle alarm to alert people when you feel threatened.

We have a few more tips that might help you sleep better at night. We don't blame you for worrying about this sort of thing, but an action plan will keep you prepared. 

Prepare your place with help from your landlord

If you're moving into a new apartment, what sort of vibe do you get from this landlord or manager, and do they live on the premises? This is your opportunity to discuss security with them before you sign anything. Ask about the crime rate in the area (or look into it online) and specifically incidents that may have happened where you are considering living. Look around the place. Are the windows accessible from the ground outside? How well do they lock? Is there a chain lock on your door in addition to the main ones? Would they be willing to install one if there isn't one? How often are packages stolen from this building, and is there a secure place for them?

If you're buying a home (congratulations!), it's worth budgeting in a home security system before you set a maximum home price for yourself. This is an expense that will definitely help you sleep at night. In either case, take a look at how easily you can see in the windows when it's dark outside, and perhaps invest in blackout curtains that won't show your silhouette through them. You can also ask your landlord if you can be listed by first initial on any directory or if you can add another one, like "J. and L. Smith," so it looks like you're not the only one there. A smart device that allows you to monitor your place with your phone is helpful, so you can check it when you're on your way home.

Know who is at your door before you open it

Opening a door for someone — even someone who you're expecting — can be dangerous if you live alone. If you don't have a smart doorbell, make use of your peephole. If there isn't one, see if one can be installed. If not, definitely a chain lock. If it's someone you don't know or expect, you are not obligated to open the door. Don't be afraid to call this person's company to verify identities. If the landlord needs to come in, make sure you leave the front door open (keep the cats in another room, perhaps) and speak to this person outside as much as you can. 

A really great tip we picked up from is to have a friend or neighbor come over while you have a repair person in the house. That way, they don't see you alone. If you can't, it's a good idea to chat to this person about the fact that you're having a party tonight/company is on the way/don't worry if the neighbor drops by while you're here because they show up all the time, unexpectedly. It's not going to deter someone who is on a mission, but anything you can do to make yourself less of an easy target is great. 

You shouldn't have to do this. It simply sucks. But being an independent, strong woman means you know it's good to be prepared because we live in a world with other humans who sometimes aren't good people. 

Have an emergency check in plan with friends and family

One great thing to do is have a check-in plan with your friends and family. That's just good sense, anyway. Going hiking? Tell people where you are and when you're expected back. Leaving town? Let the family know. Set up a group text for a daily check-in, or at least make sure everyone arrives home safely from a night out together. You can even set up a code word or emoji to text people if something is occurring and you can't talk. By the way, if you get home and something doesn't seem right, leave the house and call someone immediately. Who cares if you're overreacting? That's better than the alternative.  

Do the same for your friends. If you haven't heard from one of them when you usually do, check on them and ensure they're okay. If you're meeting someone new for a first date, pick a neutral spot like a coffee shop, and take separate cars. That way, this person who is still a stranger doesn't know exactly where you live. Set up a post-date check-in plan with friends for this as well, or have them call at a designated time and set up a key phrase to use if you need to be picked up.  

Keep your plans offline

If you're heading out of town, keeping your plans offline is a good idea. We all love posting vacation pictures on social media, but that advertises that no one is currently in your house. The same goes for posting where you are on a regular day unless you're with a group. A good rule is to post where you've been rather than your current location. If there is no way around it, you can always post that you hope your house sitter is having a good time with your pets so it seems like someone could be home anytime.

It's easy to set up smart devices from your phone to monitor your house from wherever you are. You can have lights turned on and off, watch the place through pet cameras, and even turn your television randomly on so it appears that you're home to anyone passing by outside. Have your mail held at the post office, which you can set up online if you're in the United States. Pause any subscription packages so you don't have boxes sitting outside or have a neighbor pick them up for you. 

If you set up an away message on your email, don't say that you're on vacation. You can say something like, "I'll be out of the office from this date to this date, and I won't be checking my email during that time." 

Take a self defense class

It's worth investing in a self-defense class if you can. Many libraries, community centers, and government websites sponsor these for free or for a very small fee. As says, you can find some classes online as well, or even a YouTube video with a few defensive moves. Knowing how to disarm an attacker or disable an opponent can give you peace of mind, even if you never have to use it. Some classes will also help you identify things that can be used as weapons around you, like a chair or a branch. It becomes second nature after a while, and that can help you worry less as well. 

If you do take a class, talk to the other women there and the instructor(s). They may have some helpful tips for you as well. Share your tips with girlfriends and family because the more we help each other, the safer we'll be.