Afraid in a Parking Lot
(Update: Some of our programs have changed. Subscribe to our email list to stay up to date.)
One of the most common fears that I hear women talk about is their fear of being attacked in a parking lot. I remember having uncertainty when going in and out of places, especially if it was dark outside. After learning how to be situationally aware in our Situational Awareness 101 (Shecret Agent 101) class, I started using the skills that were taught. Just the other day I realized the other day that I now have a specific process I use when navigating a parking lot for my optimum safety. It is 5 easy steps you can start using TODAY!
1. When I step out of the store (or bank, neighbor’s house, etc.), I look to see where people are. These are the people that are out walking in the parking area. I assess how close they are to me, and what their behavior is telling me. People in general are actively going someplace (either into a store, or back to their vehicles). For the people that are not following that behavior, I try to assess what they are doing and if I need to avoid them. (If they are walking between cars with no general direction I keep an eye on them since they are showing odd behavior.)
2. After seeing where the people are in the parking lot, I choose which aisle I will take to get to my car. If there are suspicious people walking up the aisle I would normally use to go to my car, I will either walk up another aisle (best option), or at least walk up the opposite side of the aisle they are on. This gives me room to react if they are up to no good. I will also make sure they see that I am looking at them. I don’t stare or try to look intimidating. I just make sure they know I’m aware of them. Criminals don’t want to be identifiable and prefer unsuspecting victims.
3. After doing a quick look at people outside their cars, and then choosing the aisle I will use to get to my vehicle, I then look for people IN their cars. Since I am now walking up a specific aisle, I look inside of the cars that I have to walk by (on both sides of the aisle I am on). I have frequently found people sitting in their cars, and when I see them, I put more space between myself and their vehicle. Again, this is to give me reaction time if needed. If they are in the vehicle that is right next to my car, I make sure they know I am aware of them.
4. After seeing who is in the cars near me, and what their behavior is, I do another quick scan of the parking lot to see if any of the people that are out walking, have changed their direction or behavior. Keep in mind that all of the things I have described are also visible behaviors to any criminals in the area. As I swivel my head, and make eye contact, I am displaying behavior that sends the message that I am aware of my surroundings. This is HUGE! Criminals DO NOT want targets who are prepared and can see them coming.
5. Finally as I approach my car, I look in the backseat to make sure no one is there. I also use the reflections on cars’ windows as a way to see what is behind me. Then I get into my car and before anything else, I lock my doors.
That’s it! When you first start using this process you may feel like you are walking around paranoid, but it takes about two weeks and you will see how easy these steps are to implement. You will also see people respond to you and know they are aware of you. For me, it feels like an invisible shield that sends off a signal that I am prepared to act if needed. Now, I feel confident rather than fearful, and prepared rather than paranoid.
If you would like to learn more about the skills needed to be effectively aware of your surroundings, sign up for our Situational Awareness 101 class. The skills learned in this class are the the main reason you will send the message that you are not an easy target. Remember criminals look for easy prey, and after implementing these skills, you will not be “easy prey!”.
By using these 5 easy steps, you’ll not only feel safer, you will be more confident in your ability to protect yourself! Stay safe, and we hope to see you in class!
Bonus Tip #1: When going to your car, always keep one hand free, even if that means using a shopping cart for only 3 bags!
Bonus Tip #2: Get a self-defense tool like a kubaton or pepper spray to keep on your key chain. Then as you walk, keep those keys in your hand so that you have a tool of self-defense ready AND you don’t have to be distracted fumbling around in your purse for your keys!
P.S. If you would like to know some great ways to make it difficult for a criminal to approach you at home, work, or while traveling, enroll in our Fortress Building class to learn how to effectively set and maintain your personal boundary. Think of your personal boundary as the space you give yourself so you have options. The closer the criminal is to you, the less options you have for escape.