Because most of our clients are women, pregnant, or young mothers, we wanted to share some safety tips for you in the wake of human trafficking. Thankfully, many people have been rescued this year but it’s estimated that 40million people are still in slavery today. Statistics show us that women and children are their main targets, meaning most of our clients need to practice personal day-to-day safety. The chances of a predator successfully hurting you go down when you apply some basic safety-sense into your lifestyle. Our goal is not to scare you but educate you on potential threats. It’s better to live a little “on edge” instead of finding yourself in a dangerous situation.
Reports in the last few years show that predators are not just on the prowl at night, but also busy during broad daylight at places like local neighborhood Targets--the last place you’d expect bad things to happen! Their tactics are always evolving too, which is why it’s important for women to be on alert at all times, paying attention to our surroundings.
Here are 8 of our favorite safety tips to detour predators! Stay safe, ladies!
1. Pay Attention To Video Calls In Public
Not all traffickers are male thugs. In fact, experts found out that the majority of traffickers are women. Or rather, men use women to stalk for them in public because we tend to feel more relaxed around women. Recently, traffickers have sent women into gas stations or stores with their Facetime on to "scope out" potential victims. They point the camera at unsuspecting women or children and wait for an opportunity to kidnap them.
When in public, especially at a gas station, pay attention that you are not the object of a Facetime call. Eavesdrop if you feel uncomfortable. One girl didn’t realize she was in a dangerous situation until she heard the woman with the phone point it at her and say, “Do you like this one?” She immediately ran from the bathroom to her car and saw a man loitering outside who was on the receiving end of the call. Thankfully she escaped because she was listening and watching.
If you notice that you are the object of a video call, leave the area immediately, run/walk towards other people, and call 911. Never go into public bathrooms alone, and if you have to, make sure someone is waiting for you outside.
2. Don’t Fill Out Forms For “Free” Baby Items
Attractive advertisements on your favorite websites (and even Pinterest) offer for “a year’s worth of free diapers and formula.” Be extremely cautious about these advertisements, as they require you to fill out personal information (like your address and how many children you have.) That information might not be going to a company but a predator’s email! Only trust advertisements on a name brand website (like Huggies) and if you are in doubt, contact their customer service line to see if they are legitimate. A predator would love to know that you are pregnant, work from home alone, and what your address is all in one questionnaire.
3. If A Stranger Tries To Make Eye Contact...
Don’t look away! Women don’t realize that our body language can attract a predator or detour him! There are two reasons to hold a stranger’s stare for a few seconds.
First, predators are looking for women who are afraid of them. Looking away signals that you are intimidated and that makes you appear “easy” to a predator. Predators are cowards, only preying on women who won’t put up a fight for themselves. Show signs of confidence and purpose, and make eye contact for a few seconds to signal you are aware of them.
And secondly, predators are looking for women who are not paying attention to their surroundings. If you look away, it can signal that you aren’t paying attention or that you didn’t notice them at all.
Holding their gaze for a few seconds (until they are uncomfortable) signals that you are aware of your surroundings, you are in control, you are bold and brave, and you see them.
A predator wants nothing to do with a victim who can fight back and cause a ruckus. Your body language signals your intentions so don’t be afraid to use it to your advantage.
4. Rules For Parking Your Car
Leaving and coming to your car can only take two minutes, but those two minutes can be the only window a predator needs to catch you off guard. Coming and going should be moments in your day when you are highly aware of your surroundings. Set yourself up for safety-success by choosing a safe parking spot.
Remember to park under light poles or street lights if you will be out after dark. A well-lit area is a deterrent and your car can be seen better on security cameras. Park close to the building as possible or near to the cars of your friends/coworkers. Try not to park on the fringes or in the back, dark allies if possible. Always lock your car.
Never park next to a van to prevent someone from pulling you inside. If a van parks next to your car and you feel uncomfortable, get in on the passenger side and immediately lock your doors. Or better yet, go back into the building and ask someone to walk with you. People generally don’t mind helping you to your car. It’s a smart habit to get into when you are alone!
5. Rules For Approaching Your Car
As you approach your car, glance under it and in the back seat to make sure no one is hiding there. Predators have been known to hide in these places to abduct unsuspecting women. If you happen to see someone hiding there, press the alarm button on your key fob, scream, and run away to attract attention and draw help to you. Call 911.
When leaving and approaching your car, it’s a good idea to hold your car key between your forefinger and middle finger--you can always use this as a weapon if someone tries to grab you.
When you get into your car always lock the doors before you do anything, even before buckling your seat. Women are more likely than men to sit in their car and read the shopping receipt, fix the radio, type in the GPS, or text. It’s better to lock the doors before you do any of these things.
6. It’s Okay To Lie...To Strangers
Yes, you heard that right. One of the only times it is perfectly fine to lie, is when strangers ask you for invasive information. A simple question like, “what is your name?” or “where do you live?” might seem harmless, but that depends on who is asking and what they can do with that information. Remember, all predators need is your name to find you on social media.
Asking for information can seem natural. For example: you are standing in line at an airport and the person in front of you starts up a conversation. At first its just small talk about the flight and the long lines, but then they ask you where you live. What is your name? Do you have pets? Children? You are about to answer then you think better of it and only give your first name or your nickname. You don’t know who you are talking to. This information can be jst small talk, and it can also greatly assist a predator.
If a stranger asks weird questions that you don’t want to answer, the rule is you don’t have to! It’s never good manners to place your loved ones and yourself in harm’s way. And if the situation arises where you meet this person again, you can always explain that you are afraid of sharing information in public places and apologize. Good people will understand this and won’t be offended you lied to protect yourself.
7. Don’t Look At Your Phone
Always have your phone in an easy to get a place in case you need to call for help, but try not to look at it constantly while in public. Again, predators look for women who are not aware of their surroundings. Try to keep your eyes moving around the room and ears open when possible.
8. Beware of What You Post To Socal Media
Sadly, stalkers and predators often know their victims before they plan to abduct them. The first place they go once they know your name is social media. How many kids do you have? Do you live alone? What kind of house do you live in? What kind of pets do you have--cute pets or big, protector pets?
This is why it’s so important to not have a well documented social media life. Be sure not to post about where you are until you have already left. Don’t share your phone number or personal email on your information page. Also, remember that strangers who try to chat with you rarely have good motives. Ignore and block them. Social media awareness is essential for personal safety.
Before posting a picture, ask yourself, “Is this something a predator can use against me?” If it is, reconsider. Your safety is more important than likes.
Remember: trust your gut instinct. Science tells us that women have a “sixth sense” and it is highly accurate. If something seems off, it probably is! If you feel in danger, call 911 and move as quickly as possible to other people, a security guard, or a front desk and ask for assistance. There is safety in numbers, and even if it is a false alarm, it is better to be safe than sorry.