And men with red flags too…
Confidence and assertiveness are crucial to your personal safety. You probably know what confidence is and may have an idea of what assertiveness is in your head, but you may not be sure how it relates to personal safety.
First, here is how I define assertiveness. Assertiveness is your ability to know how you feel, know what you deserve, know your worth, and be able to communicate that in a calm and respectful way with those around you and even set boundaries with those that hurt you the most.
Obviously, if someone is coming at you and trying to attack you, calmly communicating how you feel and setting a boundary is not appropriate, which is why trusting your gut instinct, being aware of your surroundings, and not putting yourself into dangerous situations in the first place is KEY.
For example, having strong self care and believing you’re worthy of taking care of and protecting yourself is a belief that will prevent you from walking down a dark alley at night and make you more apt to choose to go around the neighborhood where there are street lights that light the sidewalk well. You realize that by doing so is protecting yourself.
But if you don’t believe you’re worth protecting, you’ll subconsciously think, “oh, what the heck, this way down the dark alley is faster and nothing will probably happen anyway because I’ve gone this way before.” This is when your personal safety is the most at risk.
Trusting your gut instinct is a key aspect to assertiveness and personal safety. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t, and don’t let your brain talk you out of it. Being assertive means you’re aware of your feelings and how certain people and situations affect you and make you feel. If you got a weird feeling the last time you visited a neighborhood, don’t ignore it.
Assertive women don’t put themselves in potentially dangerous situations.
It’s important to always be aware of your surroundings. Assertive women do not check their phone while they’re walking through a dark parking lot at night. They have their car keys in their hand ready to go and have their phones put away in their purse. They walk straight to their car with their head held high with a strong gait and a purpose of getting to where they’re going with confidence.
They observe any “off” or “unusual” things and don’t dismiss or deny it. If the parking lot is empty and there is a large van with no windows parked on the driver’s side of your car in a largely empty parking lot, that makes the assertive woman question and think twice about walking over to her car! Especially if there is someone sitting in the passenger seat of that van!
The assertive woman would turn right back around immediately and head to a safer, well-lit area and have someone walk with her out to her car or call the police for an escort.
It is OK to call the police if you’re feeling unsafe! You are NOT a burden on them! You deserve to feel safe and cared for. Especially safe and cared for from yourself.
Of course, if someone does come at you despite you standing up tall, aware of your surroundings, and having purpose in where you’re going, look them directly in the eye, put up your hand and yell “STOP!” or “NO!” The yelling will hopefully get the attention of others as well to come to your aid. It’s also a good idea to have a safety tool ready and handy, not at the bottom of your purse where you have to rummage through to find it! (A good friend of mine Brittany Schneider has some of these safety tools for sale at her website here!)
Sometimes (as in the case of the serial killer from the 70s), men will act incapable or injured to lure women to them (using crutches, overly struggling with something, dropping things). Predators can take advantage of our naturally helpful demeanor and our quickness and willingness to help. Beware of this strategy! Assertive women are not passive when someone asks them for help! They don’t automatically run to the aid of someone who may need help if something seems off. They assess the situation immediately and if it doesn’t feel right, they do not help. They do not let guilt get in the way of their personal safety!
If something feels off about the person asking for help, an assertive woman will say how she’s feeling and what she is willing to do to protect herself.
Something like “I don’t feel comfortable helping you. Let me go get someone to help you.” and she will get someone (preferably a man) to come and help. This is why gut feelings are so important. Even if you don’t get a bad gut feeling, just proceed with caution and stay aware.
Assertive women also do not date people that make them feel uncomfortable or have “red flags.” This can sometimes be harder for women to spot because maybe they grew up in a family of red flag behavior or abuse and it just feels normal and familiar to them. Some examples of red flag and unhealthy behavior are: physical hitting, biting, kicking, etc., throwing things, angry rage, name-calling, impulsivity, criticizing, character assassination (talking badly about someone’s character and who they are at the core, telling you you’re flawed in some way), stone-walling (refusing to speak to you, or responding in one word answers “uh huh,” “oh.”), cheating, lying, controlling, drug/alcohol abuse, manipulative, etc.
In a lot of domestic abuse situations, the man is typically very charming and wants to get involved and committed quickly. He then starts to be very controlling of your time, who you hang out with, may restrict you from seeing your friends and family. He may destroy your self esteem over time and call you names and make you feel like you’re not good at anything and that you can’t survive without him. This kind of relationship is potentially life threatening and has a huge impact on your personal safety. Anytime someone hurts you in any way, especially physically, that is a red flag to make changes to the relationship and your behavior towards that person.
If you are in this kind of relationship and realize it is extremely dangerous and unhealthy, take extreme precautions to plan your exit. A woman’s chances of getting killed by him go up exponentially when the man knows she is leaving or is about to leave because he has nothing left to lose. Plan your exit in secret with the aid of a local women’s shelter and have a plan. This is not something to mess around with. Once you are out, DO NOT ever go back to his place of residence for any reason.
The assertive woman recognizes all the red flags listed above and then some. She sees his wanting to get committed quickly as something to be cautious around and wary of and not as “aw how cute, he must really like me a lot!” That kind of behavior is usually just a guy trying to get you hooked so he can control you.
The assertive and confident woman sees right through that toxic behavior and looks for a man who is caring, calm, respectful, doesn’t abuse drugs/alcohol, is trustworthy and checks in with her, is respectful of her time and wishes, and someone who can communicate openly and truthfully about his feelings (this type of person DOES actually exist ladies!! Don’t let anyone tell you they don’t!).
Assertiveness and confidence is crucial to your personal safety.
If the dark stairwell gives you a creepy feeling, get someone to walk with you.
If the man coming towards you gives you an uncomfortable feeling, cross the street before you two would pass.
When you’re walking alone at night, walk with a strong gait, stand up tall, put your phone away, and walk with your keys (and safety tool if you have one!) in your hand.
If the man you just met seems overly charming, yet pushy, be aware of that and be cautious about seeing him again.
If your date gets road rage and speeds or impulsively cuts the person off, stay calm and when you get to your destination, call a friend or an Uber to take you away from him and to a safe place!
Don’t discredit your gut feelings and always be aware of how certain people and situations make you feel.
You are worthy of protecting yourself and you deserve healthy, positive, respectful treatment from others.
We build our strong self esteem by doing esteem-able acts and taking care of yourself is the foundation to strong self esteem and personal safety.