Details of assaults on women are making news every day. We read about joggers taking a daily run, girls going to a frat party or out for a drink with friends, working professionals meeting customers or clients. These all seemingly innocent situations. But then something unexpected happens. Empowering women to deal with these situations has become very important.
Following these reports there is frustration and outrage. Along with such emotions, there may be a more subtle tendency to blame the victim. How could she have been so unaware of her surroundings? Why didn’t she sense the presence of danger until it was too late? These reactions are all natural responses when people feel helpless in dealing with unpredictable threats.
Empowering women to be proactive in confronting this problem is a challenge. None of us like to imagine ourselves as potential victims. However, the only way to increase security is by admitting vulnerability, and raising awareness. This is the kind of empowerment that encourages women to develop situational awareness, and to do everything possible to promote their own well being.
It starts with the most obvious list of “don’ts”. Don’t meet a stranger in a remote area. Don’t walk alone after dark. If warnings were effective, we would eliminate some dangers. Sadly, these warnings and many others like them are often not effective. They fail to encourage the kind of intentional behavior that tells us what to DO, as opposed to what not to do. We all need to think more creatively and take an approach that anticipates trouble before the fact.
A personal safety app like LOIS supports the idea that women are responsible for their own safety. However, the LOIS concept bolsters this, making safety a norm with a longer reach, into the greater community. This re-imagined approach helps to promote safety by utilizing community contacts. That is, organizations and individuals who have a real stake in the outcome. Users are backed up by a whole community of other interested parties, all of whom support the effort through active participation. In this way, empowerment is not just a catchy phrase or a vain hope, but a concept that has legs!