By: Karuna Tuli
I live in a beautiful neighborhood. Quiet street just off the main road in the heart of London. It’s upscale, its safe, its peaceful. It’s the kind of area my parents love because they can be assured that their daughter, living alone so far from home, is safe. And to be honest, I’ve always felt safe here.
I’m from Singapore, and safety is not a top concern for me there. I know I’m safe walking at 4am drunk and alone. But London is no Singapore, and I exercise a lot more caution here than I ever really did there. So, when I’m out drinking, I never take public transport, I take an Uber home. When it’s dark and quiet, I don’t walk with my headphones in, so I’m not distracted. And of course, the classic- I walk with my keys between my knuckles. I’m not sure where I picked that up, but I know women everywhere do it.
There are certain times that my super peaceful, quiet street makes me feel really uncomfortable. I’ve been followed onto my street by a car (because men believe catcalling from their car is the way the get a woman’s attention?) There are people standing around who I KNOW don’t live on my block- I can see them stop talking as I am walking past them, I can feel their eyes on me when I walk past, I can hear their footsteps slowly linger in my direction.
But I remain vigilant- head forward, speed walking, knowing I’m only a few steps away from my house. Plus- I have my keys tightly in my fist. So, I’m safe right? Here’s what’s always concerned me about that- what the hell do I do if I ever have to use those keys. In my imagination, I assume I can wail on someone in order to protect myself. But when I think about it sensibly, I realize all the ways that can go wrong. What if I miss? What if I drop my keys? What if there’s more than one person? What if? What if? What if?
I was walking home the other night- usual surroundings, a few strays on the street. Nothing out of the ordinary. Except for an oh so charming drunk guy. “Hey there baby,” he slurs in my direction. I roll my eyes to myself, keep looking forward and continue walking to my flat. “Hey, come talk to me for a minute!” Yeah Mr Drunk Stranger, that obvious charm and wit is going to make me stop and talk to you. I’m not sure where in my obvious ignoring of this Casanova he thought that I wanted to engage in more conversation, but he continued to follow me. “Yo, where you from? Where you been tonight?” Just keep walking home, don’t show him you are getting annoyed, don’t react.
Usually, I’d have my keys in hand. But on this night, I had something else. I had my WanderSafe. Ever since I got mine, I keep it in my pocket and its out into my hand every time I have to walk home. As I was approaching my house, I realized he was still skulking behind me. I live in a basement flat and it has got its own access outside the main flat entrance. I didn’t want this guy to know that. So, I stop and steady myself. Turn around to face this guy, absolute stone faced. Pull out my WanderSafe, point it towards him, and twist the top to set off the alarm.
It was a moment of perfection. I see his startled face, and then he covers his ears and walks off quickly in the other direction. I turned off the alarm and stood there for a moment, keeping it in my hands just in case, watching to make sure he was a good distance away before safely going into my flat.
I don’t know how this situation could have turned out, and thankfully, I don’t have to. Ever since I found out about WanderSafe, I’ve believed so strongly in its potential. It’s the reason I jumped at the chance to work with the company. But to see it action was a very bittersweet moment for me. Bitter because, it’s unfortunate that these situations exist, but at the same time, knowing that it works was a very empowering realization. In that moment, it was the perfect deterrent, and I didn’t have to resort to attempted violence as a solution.
The keys in the knuckle thing has always been a terrifying but necessary solution for me- and we all know women who do it. Recently, we posed the question of how many women use it in a women’s travel group on Facebook. The responses were upsetting, in that most women said that at one point in their life, they have used this method. We gathered a few to show our readers below.
I was glad to see that I’m not the only one who worries about dropping them or being overpowered or just..failing in using it as a defense method. One that really stood out to me said:
During a talk by a police officer on safety many years ago, I was told carry your keys in your hand as you closer to your destination. If you’re a mile from your home and have a key in your hand and use it, it may be seen as carrying a weapon even if used in self-defense. Instead, carry an umbrella. Not sure if it was good advice or not? However, what I do has as a shift worker who walks home at all hours is a personal alarm. You can carry it in your hand and even if no one responds, if you pull it towards someone, the noise will make them step back allowing you time to get away and run.
It’s responses like this that really encourage the WanderSafe team. It tells us that women everywhere share our same concerns about safety. It shows that despite the same fear of fumbling, or missing or losing the fight we all resort to the same violent solution because- fight or die right? Most importantly, for us, it shows us that we are providing a real, measurable alternate non-violent solution that millions of us face every single day!
To help protect YOU, WanderSafe currently has a special discount offering 50% off your first purchase through Indiegogo! Get yours today and experience the ultimate level of personal safety.