There’s no denying that women are a target of violence. In fact, men’s violence against women is so common that it is the number one leading cause of premature death among women–even more common than car accidents. Surely you’ve seen stories on the news of women who were followed home from the bar, the gym, the subway stop, etc. only to have their life cut short. Sometimes, these attacks are unprovoked, but typically these women are killed by people they knew–acquaintances, coworkers, or neighbors–people who knew that these women would be returning to an empty house. As a military wife, you become a target every time your spouse is on a mission or a deployment. Here are some ways to protect yourself when living on your own.
When transferring to a new assignment, you’ll be looking for a new place to live. It’s important that you do your research before deciding on a house to use your VA loan on. You want to make sure you’re buying a home in a safe, quiet, low-crime neighborhood. Even though there’s more nightlife downtown, there are also more people, so it might be best to opt for a house in the suburbs instead. It might be a bit more boring, but it’s certainly worth the peace of mind.
You could also choose to live on-base instead of buying off-base. Since only authorized personnel with the proper licensing are allowed on-base, you’ll be much safer than living in a neighborhood off-base with complete strangers. Of course, there are plenty of downsides to on-base housing, like the overall quality of the homes. Some service members have complained of unusual things happening during storms that have made them question the structural integrity of their homes, like water leaking in from light switches, or entire sheets of siding ripping off of the sides of the houses after a strong gust of wind. You should also consider that if you decide to live on base, you’ll essentially be renting a house in an HOA, with rules and restrictions you have to follow regarding the use of your outdoor space.
One of the top ways you can prevent yourself from becoming a target is by prioritizing intruder deterrence. This doesn’t mean putting bars over your windows or building a moat and drawbridge in your front lawn–though the latter might certainly make people want to avoid you. Deterring intruders can be as easy as installing a home security system. There are plenty of affordable options out there that allow you to customize your plan to fit your needs, offering floodlights, shatter detectors, entry sensors, indoor and outdoor cameras, and 24/7 monitoring so that the company can contact authorities if an alarm is triggered. Most home security systems have apps as well, that way you can check your cameras and have notifications sent right to your phone if there’s any suspicious activity.
Another thing to do to deter intruders–that many people plan to do already–is to adopt a dog. Intruders will be deterred by the presence of a dog for a couple of reasons. First, a dog’s barking might alert anyone in the house, or even any neighbors, to the intruder’s presence, which could end up causing someone to call the police and report suspicious activity. Second, once an intruder realizes that there is a dog present, they’ll likely understand that there’s a chance the dog will attack them if they do try to enter the house, so they’ll probably decide not to attempt to break in after all.
Even with all of the research you’ve done and all of the deterrents you’ve put in place, it is still possible to be caught off-guard. That is why it’s so important to have ways to protect yourself in case this does happen. Consider taking some kind of self-defense classes like jiu-jitsu or Muay Thai. Not only are these a great way to prepare you to face danger, but they can keep you healthy and fit.
You should also keep some kind of weapon close. There are plenty of cute options for pepper spray keychains, that way you can carry it on your bag or purse. At home, you might consider keeping a metal baseball bat under your bed. A great tip is to keep a fuzzy sock pulled over the head of the bat. This might sound ridiculous, but if you swing at an intruder and they grab the end of the bat, the sock will prevent them from getting a real grip, so you can quickly pull the bat out of the sock, reel it back, and give another swing before they have a chance to realize what happened.