Author: Angel Reyes  

In The News

In honor of Human Trafficking Awareness day on January 11, Angel Reyes – Reyes Browne Reilley is touching on several topics and themes that can help keep individuals throughout the state safe.

You know you need to stay alert on the road, and when you’re behind the wheel of a car, but what about when you’re in a parking lot?

Street Harassment

Thankfully, street harassment is becoming an increasingly more researched topic. However, according to Stop Street Harassment, in 2014, approximately 65% of women in the U.S. reported being a victim of street harassment, along with 25% of men.

So, what constitutes street harassment?

Street harassment is defined as unwelcome comments or contact of a sexual nature directed at a person by a stranger in a public place. Street harassment lies on a spectrum and can include anything from unwanted whistling, leering, sexist, homophobic or transphobic slurs, persistent requests for someone’s name, number or destination after they’ve said no, sexual names, comments and demands, following, flashing, public masturbation, groping, sexual assault, to rape.

Parking Lot Safety Tips

Implementing these types of recommendations into your everyday lifestyle may have the potential to help you reduce your odds and risks of becoming a victim.

When parking:

  • Park in highly visible, well lit areas and be mindful of suspicious activity. Report any lights out or suspicious persons to store personnel or the police.
  • Always carefully note where you parked so you don’t spend unnecessary time walking around a parking lot.
  • Always lock your car doors (even before you buckle up) both when driving and parked. Never leave your keys in your car, whether you’re at the gas station or in the parcel pick-up area.
  • Limit the amount of time you spend idle in the car.
  • Never leave valuables in your car.

Walking to your car:

  • Any person walking alone, male or female, is potential prey for assault. Shop with a friend or family member whenever possible.
  • Walk purposefully and look confident. Assertive body language can help prevent an attack. Don’t slouch…keep your head up. Look as though you would cause an uproar if bothered.
  • Try not to carry a lot of packages at once, as this makes you an easy target.
  • If you carry a purse, don’t dangle it by your side in such a way that a thief can run by you and grab it. Carry your purse close to your body, preferably in front.
  • When possible wear shoes and clothing that will not hinder an escape. Sneakers are best, shoes with low heels are your second best bet. Keep a pair in the car if you are going to be out on your way home from work. If you wear high heels and are pursued, kick them off and run barefoot.
  • As you walk observe those around you. Notice if there are any strangers sitting in parked cars or standing in your pathway. If so, choose an alternate route and by all means, avoid them.
  • Stay away from isolated or poorly lit areas. Avoid walking near shrubbery which can hide attackers.
  • Always be alert and aware. Have your car keys in your hand and be ready to unlock the door without delay.
  • As you approach your car, look under and around it. Before getting in your car look in the back seat and on the floor.
  • Don’t place your purse or package on the roof of the car while loading other items.

In the event you’re approached:

  • If someone suspicious approaches your car, honk your car’s horn. It’s one of the loudest and fastest ways to scare off or let others know that you need help.
  • If a car approaches you while you are walking, and you are harassed by the occupants, scream and run in the opposite direction so that the driver will have to turn around to pursue you.
  • If you feel that you are being followed, walk or run quickly to a lighted store or where crowds of people can offer help if needed. Know where to go for help — police station, fire house, etc. Do not go home.
  • It’s a good idea to keep a police whistle on your key chain. If you feel your personal safety is being threatened, follow your instincts. Do anything you can to draw attention. Don’t be embarrassed. Scream, yell or blow your whistle.

Gas Station Safety

Perpetrators need you to be distracted and have a false sense of security. And all too often, a gas station is the perfect host for these circumstances. A busy gas station does not deter these kind of crimes from taking place in plain view of witnesses, so when you’re out, make sure you’re keeping yourself safe with these tips:

  • Lock the car doors. Grab just your credit card and keys and then lock the car doors. Leave your purse inside (and out of view). Thieves have been known to sneak up on the other side of your car, open the door, grab your purse or phone and take off. Weirdos have also been known to get inside of your car, and attack once you begin to drive off.
  • Don’t leave the car unattended. While it is very tempting to go inside for a drink or snack while the gas is pumping, this can make you a target. Someone might smash and grab from your car or may even attempt to steal the car while you aren’t looking.
  • Be aware. Be watchful. Look at who is around you. Does anyone seem out of place? Are they all with vehicles and pumping gas? Be suspicious of anyone loitering.
  • Steer clear of stations near a freeway ramp. Criminals get away too easily in this situation. Whether they rob you or steal the car, they can quickly jump on the freeway and be gone before you even dial 911.
  • Bring a friend. Try not to go to the gas station alone or with just you and children. There have been many stories of cars being stolen with children strapped in car seats in the back seat. If you are with your kids, stand next to the open back door (with other doors locked) or open the window and talk to them while you are pumping.
  • Stay off your phone. It is dangerous to be on your phone around gas pumps anyway. They can cause a tiny spark that could result in a fire.  But being on the phone is also a distraction and could allow someone to come up on you without your noticing.
  • Fill up before you reach empty. Give yourself the luxury of being able to find a safe gas station and to get gas during daylight hours. Never let the tank get below 1/4 full so you aren’t desperate to get gas and have to choose a less than optimal setting.

Angel Reyes – Reyes Browne Reilley acknowledges the extreme misfortune that articles like this have to be written and directed towards those most at-risk in order to keep them safe. Our law firm aims to create a community that holds perpetrators responsible and accountable for the harm they cause. In honor of Human Trafficking Awareness day on January 11, 2021, Angel Reyes – Reyes Browne Reilley is taking the full week to touch on areas of gender-based crimes that contribute to U.S. culture surrounding Human Trafficking.

Previous Post Next Post