When you walk around downtown Seattle in the daytime you feel safe with all the hustle and bustle of people running to and fro. The police presence is obvious everywhere you turn. You instinctively know if you were attacked twenty people would come running. Nighttime is a whole different animal. Very unsavory characters come out with the intention of doing harm. When the sun goes down a woman walking alone needs to be proactive in her own safety.
If you are walking alone at night it is important to keep a decent amount of space between you and other people. I can easily walk three blocks at one or two A.M. in Seattle without seeing a soul. Less people means less help if something goes squirrelly. I keep a buffer of half a block between me and another person walking down the same street. If needed, I will cross a street to obtain more space.
Put the electronics away
Listening to your iPod at night is simply asking for trouble. Even if you only have one earpiece in, you risk not hearing when someone is too close behind you. If you have both buds in, you are just asking for someone to grab or hit you from behind.
It is okay to have your cell phone in an easy to reach pocket or palmed in your hand. If you palm the phone, it should not be visible. Texting can be dangerous at night. It’s a distraction to what you observe, and cuts down the distance of your peripheral vision. Some people think talking on the phone is staying connected. That if you were grabbed, your friend could send help fast. The truth is there are so many dark places to drag you, including underground. It is more important that you be able to listen to anyone that approaches too closely.
Alleys are bad
Never go down the city alleys at night. Yes, they look like excellent shortcuts to get you where you are going. The alleys smell of urine and homeless people defecate in them. Women have gotten sexually assaulted in Seattle alleys. One happened in the alley right behind my work and no one could hear her screams. Don’t be one of them.
Let’s keep the mugging to coffee
When walking around at night avoid reaching in your bag for anything. You really do not want to draw attention to the fact you might have money. I prefer the side sling bag which keeps my possessions close to me. I wear a jacket over my purse so it looks like I don’t have one. If I need bus or cab fare out of my bag, I do it before I leave the safety of work.
Cameras, laptops, and kindles should not be visible if you have to carry them at all. Have them stowed away in their bags and do the under the coat trick.
If you feel uncomfortable around someone you have every right to walk away even if they are talking to you. Its unlikely that at that time of the night you are missing out on making a great new friend, business contact or soul mate. You can be polite until polite no longer works then be rude.