Training: Situational Awareness 
Eliminating Distractions 

The first element of situational awareness is recognition. Situational awareness is essentially summed up as being proactive in ensuring the safety of oneself and others. This means being able to quickly and effectively recognize a threat so that reaction responses can be calculated, selected, and acted upon. If someone is distracted, it is highly unlikely that person will be able to effectively identify a threat when it is being presented.

1. Eliminating distractions

This point seems simple but it's actually one of the most difficult for people all over the world. The number one distraction is the modern cell phone. Messaging apps, social media, and web browsing are the three top distractions for why people are targeted. For some reason, and it's entirely false, people believe that being on their phone will save them from danger. Perhaps the feeling of security is because they think the attacker will be discouraged knowing they could easily phone a friend or dial 911 for help. This is NEVER the case. When someone is using their phone, their number one threat detecting sense is impaired, sight, because it is focused on the screen. Some people even become so involved on their phone they no longer register sounds around them and have extremely selective hearing. 

As an example, if an attacker had a choice of assaulting a female looking down at her phone while walking down the street, or a female with her head on a swivel looking around and clearly aware of her surroundings, which would the attacker choose? It's a simple choice. The woman walking down the street who is situationally aware is more likely to notice a strange person walking toward her or she would hear/sense someone approach from behind. She is capable of using all of her senses to be proactive in protecting herself. She is a higher threat to the attacker than the woman looking down at her phone would be. More than likely, the attacker would pop out and scare the distracted woman so much that she would drop her phone and have no time to prepare to fight back. 

How do we eliminate distractions? Here are some tips:

1. Reduce the chance of a surprise attack

  • Put the phone away while walking down the street, running around the block, hiking trails, and driving vehicles. Not only is being on the phone extremely dangerous while driving, it distracts women from seeing if they are being followed. Attackers know what their targets are doing. Most attackers will steer clear of women who are clearly aware of what is going on around them. 
  • After parking a car at her residence, the woman should quickly scan the area around her while still in the locked car, and once all is clear, proceed to collect her belongings and  make her way directly to her home. Do not sit in the car on the phone watching Youtube or Instagram reels after parking the vehicle. Being distracted in the front seat gives an attacker ample time to sneak up to the vehicle and hide without the woman even realizing. 
  • Bars/restaurants/clubs/public venues are places where women are more likely to be attacked. The attack usually occurs in the parking lot or outside the venue if the woman is leaving alone. A woman might be so engaged and distracted by friends throughout the night that she has no idea she is being targeted. While out and about, women need to always be aware of their surrounding regardless of how many friends she has with her. 
  • Mixing being distracted with drinking too much alcohol is a very dangerous combination. It becomes increasingly more difficult to process what is going on around her. For example, she would most likely not notice the man staring at her from across the room the entire night. This same man sees the woman arrive alone and has been watching the number of drinks she has consumed. Having the "tunnel vision" and delayed reaction time that occurs when drinking could cause her to not see the man following her as she leaves the venue either. On the other hand, if the woman were cognizant of her surroundings and situationally aware - she most likely would have made eye contact multiple times with the man staring at her throughout the night and could have alerted staff and her friends about the situation. Then, she could ask to be escorted to her car to better ensure her safety. It is always better to be safe than not.
  • When listening to music, a woman should make sure the volume is set to a level that does not interfere with her hearing the sounds that are going on around her. There are so many instances where not being able to hear has set a woman up for failure and has caused her to be in dangerous situations that could have been avoided. Not hearing sounds like a fire alarm, home alarm, gunshots, screams,  footsteps,  voices, and/or car engines could mean the difference between avoiding or preventing an attack versus facilitating one.
  • Arriving at and leaving the gym are two situations where women should be off their phones and not listening to music through headphones. We understand how wonderful it is to leave the gym after a good workout and have that music still blasting - but the issue is the woman can't hear what's going on around her. She won't be able to hear the sound of footsteps approaching her from behind or the crunch of leaves as a threat emerges from the woods. Also, if she is looking down at her phone, she can no longer see what is happening around her. Keeping sight and hearing free from distraction are critical in reducing the chance of becoming the victim of an attack. Also, becoming too comfortable and familiar with an area can be harmful as well. When a woman puts down her guard, she becomes an even easier target.