I began walking after dark alone as a necessity. I was living in London in winter. It was dark by four in the afternoon and the sun rose at around eight in the morning. Unless I was to live a very limited life and remain indoors between 4.00PM and 8.00 AM, It was pretty obvious I needed to overcome my conditioned fear and reluctance to venture anywhere during the hours of darkness on my own.
I was travelling alone. I did not have a car and relied solely on public transport. The occasional taxi, was a luxury, restricted to late nights following a party, or theatre performance. Often I would go out in the evenings with my house-mates, but just as often I found darkness had fallen well before I would reach our house in East Acton, some twenty minutes via the Central Line from central London.
I learned the following strategies that helped give me extra security when out alone after dark. I have used them subsequently where ever I have lived. Personally, I feel I have reclaimed the night for myself!
Safety Tips When Walking Alone at Night.
- Walk in the centre of the street, on the road itself, well away from doorways where people can hide in less peopled areas of a city. This makes it a hard for any one lurking with ill intentions to mug you.
- Dress down and wear sensible shoes. Don't look like you are wealthy or obviously carrying money.
- Walk confidently, as if you know and "own the area".
- Carry your keys between your fingers, to use as a weapon if necessary. Aim for the eyes and thrust up hard with them!
- In the event you do get followed, don't be afraid to stop a car and ask them to deliver you a street or two away, or at a telephone booth, from where you can call a cab. I once did this in Adelaide, in broad daylight. It was worth the risk. I was being followed by a man with what looked like a gun. I stopped a woman with children in her car at a busy street corner. It was a ritzy part of town!
- Knock on a stranger's door. Explain why you need to call a taxi or the police and would you mind if you waited just inside their front door, until such help has arrived!
- From the train station, or outside a theatre I have requested of a couple, if I could walk beside them, until we get to a safer place, or closer to my destination. They have always obliged and once even walked me to my door from East Acton Station, saying it was a very minor detour for them to walk an extra two minutes to see me to my door.
- Try and stay in well lit areas and avoid dark narrow laneways and "notourious areas" for trouble.
- Talk as if your partner is waiting for you at home, especially when travelling alone in a taxi.
- When truly in doubt, or arriving in a new city after dark, call a taxi!