Although you can’t predict when violence may occur, and neither should you be in a state of fear when you go out, there are some strategies you can adopt to try to minimise the chances of being attacked or abused by a stranger.
Take note of your surroundings, and of the people around you. If there are choices about where to walk, always choose well-lit, populated areas and stay near to main roads, avoiding lonely short-cuts at night. Move away from groups of people behaving in an erratic or provocative manner. Cross the street, change direction, or grab a taxi cab (if this is a possibility) if you think there is danger.
Walk with your head up and in a determined manner, and look like you know where you are going, even if you don’t. If you feel nervous, or alone, tell yourself you can cope with any situation, and that you have as much right to be walking the streets as anyone else.
Stay with others
If you can, be with others for as much of your journey as possible when travelling at night. If you are left alone on top of a bus, or in an empty tube or train carriage, move as soon as you can to where there are other people, or get off if you feel it might be safer to do so. If you can afford it, get cabs for lonely journeys.
Alcohol or drugs make you more vulnerable
You are more vulnerable to attack if you are drunk, or under the influence of drugs. Try to plan beforehand if you know you will be drinking or taking drugs; travel with friends and avoid difficult or isolated journeys, either by staying with a friend or by booking a cab.
Plan your journey
Booking a minicab beforehand is safer than getting into one of the many cars that hang around nightclubs that might not be genuine cabs. Never get into an unlicensed cab or accept a ride from someone you don’t know – you could be putting yourself at risk, including being robbed or sexuality assaulted. You can use the Cabwise service by texting HOME to 60835 to get the numbers of one taxi and two licensed minicab firms, in the area you are texting from.
If you are using public transport, cycling or walking late at night it’s a good idea to plan your journey home so that you avoid becoming lost or stranded. See the Transport for London website or telephone London Travel Information on: 020 7222 1234 (24 hours a day).
If a situation looks like it might turn violent, try not to engage or ‘fight your corner’ if you are outnumbered. Try to calm the situation down or look instead for ways of getting out of the situation. There is no shame in refusing to fight or trying to get away, especially if the odds are against you.
If you are attacked
Hopefully this will never happen to you, but if you are attacked, you may decide to fight back, but try to get help and attention. Shout to bring others to your assistance. Sometimes shouting ‘Fire!’ will bring people more quickly. If your attacker has a weapon, try to run. Get help as soon as you can. See the section After An Incident for further advice.