‘Step Away’ Door Wedge Alarm

I posted a photo of our fabulous ‘Step Away’ door wedge alarm on Instagram earlier today and have had an overwhelming response and lots of orders, as well as a few questions.

It seemed logical to write a little post detailing the personal alarm further and I have added a little video so you can see the alarm in action.

SafeGirl’s ‘step away’ door wedge alarm is ideal for frequent fliers, college and university students and anyone who is uneasy about staying solo in a hostel or hotel room.

Simply jam the alarm under a door to make it harder to open, and if an intruder tries to force entry, you (and hotel staff) will be alerted with an ear-splitting alarm.

Usage: Turn the slide switch on the base to “ON” position; product is on stand-by. Alarm activates when swing cover swung in approximately 1.5 degrees. The alarm will only be switched off by turning the switch to “OFF” position.

130 decibel alarm (as loud as a military jet aircraft take-off from aircraft carrier with afterburner at 50 ft)

Is Personal Safety An Outdated, Anti-feminist idea?

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I’ve been doing a bit of soul-searching recently and pondering my stance on personal safety.

Having always considered myself a feminist (I was brought up on the belief that if we consider men and women as equals we are feminist – surely we all should be then?) I am particularly interested in the increasingly popular idea that instead of telling women to avoid being harassed, maybe we should tell men to stop harassing?

Yes – I know men are abused, harassed, raped too! But the facts are that 20% of women in England alone have experienced sexual harassment, compared with 4% of men, and over 98% of perpetrators are male, so for now, please indulge me.

The glaringly obvious personal problem I have with taking the view that we, as women, should carry on regardless, taking no safety precautions, and expecting all sexual predators to stop, is that I would go out of business. Women’s Safety is after all, how I survive.  But beyond that, I am a mother of four daughters. Do I feel comfortable allowing them to just go for it? Give up their personal alarms? Walk alone down dark alleys? Accept lifts from strangers?

My answer is a definite no! In an ideal world, of course we wouldn’t have to worry about how other people are going to behave towards us. Whether or not our drink will be spiked by a rape drug. And I really don’t bow down to the idea of changing the way we dress, or the advice by the police to join a running club and not go running alone. That would be my idea of hell – trying to keep up with other joggers and without my earphones!

Yes, the emphasis should be on controlling the would be assailants, rather than victims (male or female), and the advice to not go out alone, or not wear certain outfits is beyond outdated.

But anything more radical and gung ho seems to be throwing all caution to the wind and in my eyes, a little irresponsible.

There always has been, and always will be, a threat to women, AND to men, in the form of other, ill-intentioned people. So surely a few cautionary adjustments in the form of being aware, carrying a rape alarm, and only using licensed taxis, are more common sense than a big step backwards for women’s rights?

That’s my thought anyway?

 

A Scary Incident

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Well it’s pretty well known now that my four babies carry a personal alarm with them everywhere, and have had safety awareness drummed into them from an early age.

We had an incident last month. Quite a scary one in fact.

My second daughter Jemima was travelling home from college on her regular 4.45pm train, when two young men got on the train and approached her.  One sat on her lap, and the other filmed the entire episode on his phone, along with Snaps to friends.

They were aggressive, and threatened to rape her, grabbing her phone and telling her boyfriend they were ‘taking his girl’ with them.

During the ten minute train ride, they touched her body, barricaded her in so she couldn’t escape, and made sexual, degrading comments and threats. A terrifying experience for a 16 year old!

There were a few other passengers on the carriage, and nobody did anything.

We were lucky. Jemima managed to jump over one of the man’s legs and make a dash for the doors as they opened.

It was only hours later, after making a police statement, and a hot bath, that we even remembered the rape alarm she had attached to her bag.  Unbelievable!

Would it have helped? Who knows. Studies have shown a safety alarm is more likely to deter an assailant than to attract help. Thankfully it didn’t matter this time that we hadn’t used it. But it has shown us that anything can happen at any time, and I don’t think we’ll be forgetting it again in the near future!

 

They’re Flying My Nest!

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I know it’s a cliche, but where does the time go? It only feels a short while ago I was excitedly stocking up on nappies and baby lotion.

As we sat nervously in the Nursery School welcome meeting, I still remember tearing up as the head made her speech about how excited she was at welcoming her new ‘gifts’ in the September, and spending the next three years ‘unwrapping them’.

And now we’re taking it in turns to view halls of residence and universities all over the UK. Two of my fledglings are off to uni already!

I seem to be a constant walking mix of two emotions at the moment – overwhelming pride, and complete anxiety. Reading up as much as I can so I am completely armed with knowledge for anything the events might throw at me, I came across a wonderful piece in The Huffington Post, by Marshall P.Duke, Professor at Emory University,

“It is a moment that comes along once in a lifetime. Each child only starts college once. …Such moments are rare. They have power. They give us as parents one-time opportunities to say things to our children that will stick with them not only because of what is said, but because of when it is said.

Here is what I tell the parents: think of what you want to tell your children when you finally take leave of them and they go off to their dorm and the beginning of their new chapter in life and you set out for the slightly emptier house that you will now live in. What thoughts, feelings and advice do you want to stick? “Always make your bed!”? “Don’t wear your hair that way!”? Surely not. This is a moment to tell them the big things. Things you feel about them as children, as people. Wise things. Things that have guided you in your life. Ways that you hope they will live. Ways that you hope they will be. Big things. Life-level things.”

I am really lucky with my eldest. Meg will be renting a house with her boyfriend, who is an absolute hero and I know she will be well taken care of.

And my second is extremely independent and mature for her age. But as we concerned parents know, it’s doesn’t always matter how you conduct yourself.  If you’re anything like me, you will have conjured up images of everything from getting lost on the way home, and ending up on the Orient Express, to aliens invading and choosing only my baby to abduct.

We’re also lucky that thanks to SafeGirl, we know an awful lot about personal safety, so not wanting to be selfish, here’s a few tips to put your mind at ease a little:

I am actually a  huge advocate of the ‘why should women be told to act differently , dress differently, not wear earphones etc, and we should be telling men not to attack women’ philosophy, but the sad truth is that I personally would rather ensure my babies are a little safer, and we can all sleep a little better at night.

Make sure your mobile is charged and able to make calls when you go out, in case of an emergency or if you lose the people you are with.
Try to leave a pub or club with friends, keep money you need to get home separate so that you don’t spend it, and pre-book a licensed taxi or know the locations of official taxi ranks.

When you do go out, know how you will get home, and plan ahead if you’re going somewhere you don’t know. Let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
If you have to walk alone in the dark, try to avoid badly lit areas, parks, alleyways and underpasses. When alone on public transport, sit near the driver on a bus, and in an occupied carriage on a train or the underground. Avoid using your phone in isolated places, as it can distract you from your surroundings.
Carrying a personal alarm with you is a good idea – many men see these as female accessories, but figures show that male students stand a much higher risk of being attacked in the street.

Watch how much you drink
It’s easier to do something risky or foolish when you are drunk, and you’re more likely to lose your belongings. Eat before you drink alcohol, and drink plenty of water to help you not get drunk. Keep track of what and how much you’re drinking. Drinks do get spiked with drugs, so never leave your drink unattended or accept a drink from a stranger. Think about carrying some rape drug testing coasters.

Consider taking a student safety kit with you. Filled with a safety tips book, a door wedge alarm, a personal alarm, and much more, we can’t take away the tears as your baby birds flee the nest, but we can alleviate some of the worry….

 

 

 

Does Rape Culture Exist?

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According to Wikipedia, ‘Rape culture is a sociological concept for a setting in which rape is pervasive and normalised due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality.  Behaviours commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, slut-shaming, sexual objectification, trivialising rape, denial of widespread rape, refusing to acknowledge the harm caused by sexual violence, or some combination of these.’

But does it really exist, or is it just some propaganda invented by extreme feminists in a bit to shame men as a whole?

The statistics certainly seem to show a lack of understanding when it comes to consent.

A survey for Amnesty found 37% of respondents thought a woman was responsible for being raped if she didn’t say “no” clearly enough.

One in 20 men said they would try to have sex with someone who was asleep, according to a shocking 2010 survey of young people aged between 18 and 25 by the Havens, the specialist London-based sexual assault referral centres. A significant proportion also seemed confused about what constitutes rape: only 77% of young men agreed that having sex with someone who has said no was rape. While in 2009, a study for the NSPCC found a third of girls aged between 13 and 17 who were in relationships had experienced unwanted sexual acts, and one in 16 had been raped.

I think it’s important to realise that just because you aren’t a rapist, doesn’t mean you aren’t contributing to society’s attitudes towards rape, whether you agree that a ‘rape culture’ as such exists or not?

We laugh off rape jokes like ‘No means yes; yes means anal’ as harmless fun. Nobody actually got hurt, right?  But are we trivialising rape and endangering women?

We slut-shame. I watched an episode of ‘Love Island’ last summer, with my teenage daughters, and found it interesting that one of the participants was anxious to get her point across that she wasn’t a ‘slag’ in this modern age, and that she had had a fair few sexual partners, and why shouldn’t she? Nobody bats an eyelid when it’s a guy. More interesting was despite her repeating her empowering message a few times, and my daughters all agreeing, 20 minutes later watching the same episode, they were shouting at the tv about another female contestant who had moved on to her third guy in as many days, using the very insults we had all just condemned.

Later as the programme drew to its dramatic conclusion, ensued a fair few remarks on the women’s choice of attire,

‘She looks like a slag with her tits out like that. What does she expect?’ and so on. We’ve all contributed to rape culture by calling someone else’s dress “slutty.” We’re validating the people who say that women “ask for it” when they wear revealing clothing or have many sexual partners. Rape is rape regardless of your choice of clothing, or of how much consensual sex you have participated in.

Christin Bowman, a PhD candidate for critical social-personality psychology at CUNY, says we contribute to rape culture “when we create school dress codes for teenagers because apparently the natural female form is ‘distracting’ for male students and teachers.”
Apparently, women must present themselves in a way that caters to the male gaze.

Another way we contribute to a rape culture is body-shaming, and in my own experience, women are the biggest culprits. We put each other down instead of building each other up. We judge each other harshly;

‘Her bum looks too big in that’, ‘she has no tits’, she’s too fat to be squeezed into that dress’.

These kinds of proclamations promote the idea that, again, women’s bodies are there to be judged and consumed. And once a woman is seen as an object (particularly a sex object), it is much easier to commit violence against her.

We victim-blame. When women are being raped and assaulted, government, police and public figures say ‘women, change your behaviours… do something different’. Don’t go out alone, don’t go out after dark, don’t wear earphones, dress in this way.

Why are women supposed to change their lives and their behaviours for sex offenders? Shouldn’t we be telling rapists not to rape? The only thing that causes rape is rapists. Not how much women have had to drink, not what they are wearing, and not if they are walking alone.

Victims aren’t reporting rapes because they are worried that they might not be believed, that they might be blamed, that they may be dragged through the mud, that a conviction might result in a six month jail term out of a possible 14 years (Brock Turner).

Our society is not a friendly place for victims of rape. And until we dismantle rape culture and make it one, rape will continue and rapists will get away with it.

 

Do Personal Alarms Work?

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Personal Safety Alarms are designed to emit a loud noise when triggered. This alarm is a high-decibel noise that’s meant to warn other people that someone needs help.

The noise can register at up to about 130 dB. That’s a lot of noise if you consider that a train whistle only registers to about 90 dB.

Using this much noise against a potential attacker and you will cause panic or momentary confusion, as well as alerting others within earshot.

Crimes such as mugging and individual attacks are mostly  committed after dark, and given the natural curiosity of people, the attacker is immediately faced with the chance of being confronted by the public or a police officer.

Therefore, the chances of being left enough time to complete the attack are drastically cut.

As well as the practical safety reasons for carrying a personal alarm, most women report feeling safer and more confident just knowing they have one on their person. Because of this, we at SafeGirl have come up with some beautiful, stylish safety products any fashionable female would be proud to show off.