Maybe it was an illusion, but I definitely felt safer when I was married. It is comforting knowing there’s a strong man sleeping next to you at night. Now? It’s just me and my docile beagle. I don’t live in a dangerous town or in a sketchy neighborhood in the least, but it’s always smart to think about safety any way. You never know what could happen.
When I was twenty-two, I lived with three girls on a nice street in Madison, Wisconsin. One morning I was getting ready for work and a man dressed in a black running suit and wearing gloves broke into our apartment. I didn’t know he was there until he approached me in the bathroom. It was then that I realized he was carrying a knife. I screamed uncontrollably and he put his hand over my mouth and told me to stop screaming. That he wasn’t going to hurt me. He closed the door to the bathroom so only he and I were in there. It was the scariest moment of my life. He eventually asked us girls for money. We gave him some and closed the doors to our bedroom and pushed a dresser in front of it. We then jumped out the window to escape. The police were called and they came into my apartment with guns drawn. I had to describe the man to an artist and tried to identify him in a line up. He was never caught.
Luckily no one was hurt physically. Emotionally, it was a different story. This experience made me realize how vulnerable I was. For a year after this incident, I couldn’t be alone in my house. Whenever I walked into my apartment, I’d grab a knife and walk around to make sure no one was there. I hung bells on all my doors so I knew when someone walked in. I’m pretty sure that my anxiety started around this time. I feared the worst case scenario because I had lived it once before.
So, I’m pretty conscious of safety because I wouldn’t want anything like this to happen again, especially to my children. So, the first thing I’d suggest if you are a single woman and want to be safe is to get a security system for your house. I chose SimpliSafe. I spent about $250 for the equipment and they charge me just under $25 a month for monitoring. I have sensors on all my doors, a glass breaking sensor next to my sliding glass door, a panic button in my room, and a camera. Every night I lock all the doors, close all the blinds, and turn the security system on. It gives me a lot of peace of mind.
I’m also a runner and in the winter I sometimes run at night. I always carry pepper spray when I run or walk at night. I also have some in the night stand next to my bed.
Get to know your neighbors. If they know you’re single, they’ll watch out for you. My neighbor across the street has closed my garage door for me at night when I’ve forgotten. It’s nice to know people are there to check on things if you’re out of town too.
Traveling alone or with your kids brings safety risks too. I suggest not traveling in the dark if you can manage it. Always have your cell phone and make sure it’s charged. Tell friends or family where you’ll be and check in with them whenever you reach your destination. Lock your doors.
All of these things help me to feel safer. It’s not good to live in fear all the time, but it is good to be smart about safety. As my experience has shown me, scary things can happen. But even though I’ve lived through them, I’m still able to live alone and feel relatively safe.