By Naima Karp
Just a couple of days ago, model Ataui Deng was found safe and sound, in a New York hospital. She had been missing for over a week. People who’ve heard of the confirmation of Deng being alive are breathing a sigh of relief, along with asking why the details of her current condition haven’t been released. While this is understandable, I don’t think this should be the point of focus. Rather, it should be in the street-awareness of women in all metropolitan areas, not just New York, a place easy to stereotype for danger.
Try to walk wherever there are streetlights or other sources of light. If you’re walking with a phone or ipod in the street, turn up that hyper awareness! Don’t wear completely noise-cancelling headphones or distractedly stare at your phone and text non-stop on a dark walk home. People might assume that prettier girls, such as Deng, may pose a higher risk of getting attacked, but surprisingly, attractiveness isn’t a huge factor in attacks against girls and young women. It’s more about the way your stance, body language. Consider more carefully the way you carry yourself; your “street attitude” if you will. If you walk with hunched posture, looking at the ground, it contributes to a victim stance, of sorts. Stand tall and confident with a stride, when you walk in the street. Don’t take the same route home, if possible, and if you sense footsteps behind you, don’t panic, but take several turns and stop into a shop or restaurant.
Carry pepper spray, and enroll in some self-defense classes! Martial arts are a less realistic way of protecting yourself, since the complexity of some moves and the stress of a real-life situation might make them irrelevant and endanger you further. Classes like this are available in NYC; here are links to a couple of great ones: