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Safety tips for women, learned the hard way

By Brittney Cason
Brittney Cason
Brittney Cason writes about nightlife for The Charlotte Observer.

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Late on a recent Saturday night, someone tried to grab me and pull me out of my car in a parking lot at the NC Music Factory.

There’s nothing like an attempted adult-napping and/or carjacking (we’re not really sure what his intentions were) to inspire a column about public safety. I just want all women out there to learn from my own mistakes, and perhaps I’ll even learn to heed my own advice in the future.

Stupid move No. 1: Walking to the car alone.

Never, ever walk to your car alone. (Even Justin Bieber would say never to that.) After two people offered to walk me to my car, I insisted on walking alone because I was more concerned with eating and wanted to stop at Mattie’s Diner to get some food to go (as if I needed the calories). I thought that since I was in a relatively crowded parking lot that I’d be fine. I thought wrong.

Stupid move No. 2: Assuming a guy following you is just hitting on you.

The guy was following behind me as I walked through the parking lot to my car, shouting out the typical crap a jerk yells when he’s objectifying a woman. And I always feel rude if I don’t at least acknowledge the “compliment” and say “hello” or “thanks” while keeping it moving. But I shouldn’t have immediately just written him off as a harmless drunk.

Stupid move No. 3: Not locking the door as soon as you get into the car.

A car’s automatic locks don’t engage until the car is in drive. Before I started the engine, I buckled my seat belt. That’s when the guy opened my door and was able to catch me off-guard, grab me, and try to yank me out of my car. Luckily, since I was buckled up, he was unable to yank me out of the car. But I should have locked the doors manually as soon as I got in.

Stupid move No. 4: Caring about accessories more than personal safety.

Before I left the house that night I took the pepper spray off my keychain so that my keys would fit into my pocket and I could avoid having to carry a purse. Apparently I left my brain at home that night, too. They say every girl should have a little black dress … well, more importantly, every girl should have something on hand to protect herself.

Stupid move No. 5: Assuming that because it’s crowded and there are security guards, it’s secure.

All it takes is a second.

Underrated smart move No. 1: SCREAM!

A cry for help is a universal language, and because I was hitting the high notes like Mariah Carey, I had two groups of guys at my car within a minute saving the damsel in distress.

Underrated smart move No. 2: Wearing heels.

Don’t underestimate the power of a good pair of high heels, because when you’re kicking those things at someone’s face with all your might, they make a pretty good weapon.

I’ve always fancied myself as a strong, independent woman and habitually reject any sort of help out of foolish pride. Truth is, I too often ignore danger and the need to protect myself.

As it turns out, my attacker was a mentally ill homeless man. So I’ll never know the answers to my questions like “Was he trying to steal my car, or me?” or “Why would he do this?”

I’ve already forgiven him. And frankly, I don’t mind that I had to go through that, if it teaches other women how to deal with similarly unexpected situations.

Brittney Cason is a writer who talks for a living at CBS Radio – mornings on WFNZ, nights on WSOC.
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