Women’s Safety in Utah
It’s late at night, you’re walking to your car from a night out with friends after a long week. The streetlights are dim and you’re holding your sweater close, your keys held like a weapon in your hand. A cough sounds behind you and you peek back to see a stranger behind you and your heart stops for just a moment.
“Is this one of those moments you hear about on the news?” you ask yourself.
You make it to the car and lock the doors while checking the rearview to see if the stranger is coming close. He passes, but the anxiety lingers.
Just about every woman, if not all, has experienced this. In Utah, it’s no different.
The fear, the inability to just trust people, is unfortunately all too common. So how do we protect ourselves?
Detective Laura Norman of the St. George Police Department spoke to me about the issues they often see and how best to avoid being in an unsafe situation.
“I would say that probably the biggest thing is just being aware of your surroundings,” Norman said. “You know, as police, when we look at a lot of the crimes that happen, a lot of them are crimes of opportunity, just meaning that somebody's out there and watching other people and they say,’ Hey, there's you know, some there's something I can take advantage of.’’
This can include burglaries, assault, petty theft and more.
With assault and burglaries, having basic protection is a must. There are several options to choose from like pepper spray, knives, self-defense knowledge, and carrying a gun.
“I'd say first and foremost, just make sure you're comfortable with whatever it is that you know, whatever you're choosing to carry and or, you know, whatever knowledge you choose to have,” Norman said.
In Utah, pepper spray is legal to carry but Norman recommends being very aware of where you want to keep it whether that be on your person or in a bag. She also recommends taking it out and “practicing” without spraying so you become familiar with it.
This way, when or if a situation happens you don’t panic or fumble with the spray. Preparing for any situation is crucial.
“We don't rise to the occasion, we lower to our training,” Norman said.
The same advice applies if you are considering getting a gun permit. You must be familiar, and ready to use your weapon, or it could very easily end up in the hands of your attacker.
With a gun, you will also need to consider where you want to keep it whether that be at your hip or ankle. You’ll want to practice drawing it and even going to the shooting range.
Norman said to consider your self-defense weapon and the responsibility of it before you make any kind of decision. If carrying does make you uncomfortable, you could be a liability instead of an asset to yourself in a perilous situation.
If weapons are not your thing, I highly recommend taking up some sort of self-defense course. It will give you more confidence about protecting yourself and be a great workout. There are tons of local ones all over for any level.