OK, time to use your imagination: pretend that you are a criminal. I know, I know. That’s a stretch for most of us (speeding doesn’t count!). But sometimes to stay safe, we have to get inside the head of someone who is up to no good. It’s kind of like when you lose your car keys, and you walk around the house asking yourself, ‘If I were a set of car keys, where would I be?’ Or…maybe that’s just me? In any case, I digress.
In our pretend scenario, you’re up to no good. You’re out to commit a misdeed. Say, you want to peek into someone’s window at night. How do you choose which house?
Well, if you’re a criminal, you want to make life easy for yourself. And you definitely don’t want to get caught. So you’re heading for houses that look dark, houses that will hide you in their shadows.
Now switch out of imaginary mode. You’re just a regular person, a person who doesn’t want weirdos looking in your windows. If we know what kinds of targets those peeping toms are looking for, we can take proactive steps to not be those easy targets. This is called being a bad victim, and it’s an extremely important aspect of safety in your home.
Back to our scenario. I made our criminal a peeping tom because someone close to me told me a story this week, a story that I hope none of you ever experience yourselves. She woke up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water. As she rolled over, she saw a man’s face in her window. She screamed, and he ran. The police came, her boyfriend came (with a baseball bat!) and now she’s looking for a new place to live.
This type of violation is particularly alarming for those of us who live in homes, which can be more isolated (and poorly lit) than apartment complexes. As I processed this terrifying incident, I started thinking of ways I could apply the “bad victim” mentality to prevent not only peeping toms, but also criminals who are approaching your house for any reason – whether you’re at home or not.
As a speaker, I’ve told thousands of women and students about high-impact door and window alarms that will stop perpetrators in their tracks, or, at the very least, let you know something is wrong. These inexpensive devices (which can be purchased at www.girlsfightback.com) either rest just under your door or along the frame of your window and sound piercing sirens when the door or window is opened.
But one thing that I never thought of until I pictured a man standing silently outside my window was a motion sensor light. Many of you may already have these in your driveways, or on your front porches. But installing motion sensor lights around the perimeter of your house, particularly aimed at sensitive areas like bedroom windows, is a great way to kick your bad-victimness up a notch. The lights are inexpensive and easy to install: they can be run along the roof of your house with extension cords or mounted onto existing light fixtures.
Now let’s get back in the head of that sleaze ball. He’s (or she’s) walking up to your window (or your door, or whatever), and as he approaches, a high-wattage flood of light exposes him in the act. Two things are happening. Number one, our peeping tom has suddenly lost his cover of darkness. You’ve become an extremely bad victim, and, most likely, he’s bolting. Number two, if you’re home, the light lets you know something’s up. Maybe it’s a big cat, maybe it’s your roommate, maybe it’s a pervert. Whatever the case, you can check things out, and keep yourself safer (and less afraid).
So let’s recap. Bad guys (and girls) are out there. We can reduce our chances of being victimized by taking proactive steps to NOT be easy targets. Along with door and window alarms, motion sensor lights are a great place to start.
So head over the hardware section of your favorite store, and take the first step. You’ll feel safer, and, more importantly, you’ll be safer.