We all know someone who has grabbed their keys from handbags before reaching their car for safety.
We all know someone who has made a phone call (real or fake) to a friend or family member so they don’t feel alone while walking at night.
We all know someone who has walked past a group of men who have made harassing or uncomfortable comments to them as they passed them.
We all know someone who has been the victim of unwanted sexual advances.
We all know someone who has one time in their life felt very unsafe.
But the question remains, how do we start to feel safe and empowered again? The issue is, it’s not always the menacing man on the street corner in black clothes that we are afraid of. Some of us are scared in our own homes due to domestic violence, or at our workplaces, or the commute to and from work.
Research shows that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to making women feel safer in public places. Women from different ages, racial backgrounds, sexuality, disabilities and socio-economic classes have all very different experiences and feedback about what and where they feel safe as every place is different and the women who use those spaces are different too.
The many high-profile cases of women who have been viciously attacked, raped and murdered mean many women are on alert every time they leave home. Daily sexual harassment maintains those high levels of fear because it reminds women of their vulnerability to sexual violence.
Our partners at Women and Girls Emergency Service report that Gender-based violence (which refers to any act of violence or abuse committed against someone because of their gender) is overwhelmingly directed at and experienced by women. The United Nations define it as “physical, sexual or psychological harm” towards an individual based on their gender.
As well as physical violence it includes threats and stalking, emotional, verbal, financial, cultural or reproductive coercion. It includes physical and non-physical acts that intimidate or create fear.
While instances of gender-based violence rose frighteningly in private and domestic realms during COVID-19 lockdowns, it is equally important to track what is happening now – in the “new normal” – here are The 3 Personal Safety Apps Every Woman Needs.
Technology continues to be our friend with the addition of the Emergency SOS feature on iPhones and Androids which allows iPhone users to easily trigger a loud siren sound that may alert anyone in their vicinity to distress. Most importantly, triggering Emergency SOS also puts out an automatic call to emergency services in your area, and if you’ve enabled the feature in your settings, will also send an automated text message to a contact of your choice
Triggering the Emergency SOS on your iPhone is easy: Simply hold down the lock button and one of your volume buttons together for 5 seconds to prompt an SOS call to emergency services. Keep holding it to initiate an automatic call and the phone’s siren. Or, if you’ve enabled an extra feature in your settings, you can even use just the screen lock button alone — click it five times in a row to initiate the siren feature and an automatic call.
Be sure that these features are enabled in your Settings, under “Emergency SOS”
To make full use of the feature, though, you’ll need to designate emergency contacts through Apple’s Health app. Here’s how you can do that if you haven’t already done so:
Unearthing the technology women can tap into is a good start of how we can start to feel safe again in public places, though we still have a long way to go, the likes of Free To Be are providing the evidence needed to help decision-makers understand and respond to the issues that girls and women have been speaking about for years.
The Life360 app uses state-of-the-art GPS location technology to report the real-time whereabouts of family and friends that have accepted your invitation to join your circle and share their location. All you need to do is install the Life360 Family Locator app on your phone, and invite your family and friends. Once registered, each member appears as a unique icon on the navigational map so you’ll know exactly where they are. The app also gives you the freedom to create your own private groups, called “Circles,” of family members and chat with them in Family Locator so you and your friends know where you are and that you’ve arrived safely to your destination each and every time. Gamechanger!
If you’re heading into a new city or walking alone at night, you always need to be prepared.
The Red Panic Button app has a widget that allows you to immediately inform your loved ones where you are so they can find you. If you use the app, it will send an SMS and email containing your GPS coordinates and a Google maps link to your emergency contacts.
The app is super simple but incredibly effective for personal security, medical emergencies, and your loved ones’ security also.
Women’s safety is an everyday issue and by preparing yourself with the tools you need in case of an emergency you’ll be walking the streets with your secret safety weapons and hopefully feeling much safer.