In the first part of our series Protecting Yourself we covered how a predator thinks and a few things that you can do to start mitigating your risk of attack. In part 2 of our series we are going to go a little more in-depth on things you can do to further mitigate your risks while at home.
One place that is often overlooked when it comes to personal safety is in your relationship. According to FBI Violent Crime Statistics 2013 (the last date data is available) 33% of men and 80% of women are now in or have been in a physically abusive relationship as victims and the numbers could be higher since domestic abuse is typically under-reported, especially be men.
If you are in an abusive relationship first you have to realize that the abuse WILL NOT STOP until either you are dead or your abuser is in prison being some guys (or girls) girlfriend. It is up to you to break the cycle of violence in your life.
It is not going to be an easy task on your part, not by a long shot. Your abuser will do or say anything and everything to get you to stay, to maintain the control they have over you. You can expect the physical abuse WILL GET WORSE if your abuser finds out you have decided enough is enough and you are going to leave.
Once you have made the decision that you have to leave your abuser don’t offer any warning, just leave! Go to a family member, trusted friend, or shelter. Your safety in any of those places will depend on your abuser, and his friends, not knowing where you are, it is up to you to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Don’t feel sorry for them and the fact they are now alone, they deserve far worse than being alone for abusing you. Don’t give in to their pleas and promises it will never happen again. And whatever you do DON’T GO BACK to your home without the police!
Once you have left your abuser you will have to make certain decisions that will not be easy. First and foremost, if you have children with your abuser, is making sure that they are safe as well. A lot of abusers will turn their abuse towards your children as a way of hurting you and exerting their control. Having your abuser arrested and charged and FOLLOWING THROUGH with the deal has to be a priority to ensure your safety, and that of your children.
If you are going to be safe you will have to sever any ties you have with your abuser. You will need to change your circle of friends to avoid being compromised to your abuser by “mutual friends”, finding new “favorite places” to go, avoiding places you know your abuser hangs out at, and perhaps even changing jobs. Moving to another town or state to get away is also a really good idea that you should seriously consider.
It is not fair that you should have to change so much while your abuser still gets to hang out at your favorite clubs and restaurants, and gets to keep his (or her) friends. But you have to assume your abuser will do everything he or she can to continue the cycle of abuse. By taking yourself out of those places and away from those “mutual friends” you are increasing your chances that you will be successful in your escape, for that is exactly what you are doing, escaping from hell.
None of this is going to be easy for you, on the contrary, it will probably be one of the hardest things you will ever do in your life, but following these simple steps may just save that life.
Around the House
Assuming you are not in an abusive relationship there are a few things you can do to mitigate your risk of attack while you are at home.
Consider placing dead-bolt locks on your bedroom door. The kind that requires a key on the outside but not inside and never sleep with that door open or unlocked. The same goes for your windows, never sleep with them open or unlocked.
You need to build deterrents into and around your home . These deterrents are just that and won’t stop every predator but will make the majority of them move on to easier victims.
Lighting is one of the most important, easiest, and most effective deterrents you can emplace around your home. Houses usually offer far more points of entry than an apartment or condominium so doors and windows should be in plain view and well-lit from the outside. Open, unconcealed spaces that are well-lit are a great deterrent because burglars and other predators prefer to work where they can’t be seen that is difficult if they can be seen by the entire neighborhood.
Make sure that your lights are not all on the same level and easily accessed from the ground, motion detector lights are reasonably cheap and easy to install. Placing motion detector lights in strategic areas like side and back yards, walkways, and other areas that don’t typically get a lot of traffic at night should be part of your security plan. Be sure you light your alleyway (if you have one) to deter predators from lurking there and watching your house.
You may also want to add a “panic switch” either independent of or integrated to any alarm system that when pushed floods both the inside and outside of your house with light almost like Clark Griswald at Christmas. This may deter a predator before they can gain entry into your home.
Make sure your house numbers are large and well-lit so police or other emergency personnel can find your house if needed.
Automatic Garage Doors
These are particularly tempting for predator because they can be easily jimmied, and often, offer easy access to the rest of the house. Garage doors should sound an alarm if opened without the remote.
If you leave town for any reason unplug your opener, you should also drill holes in the tracks that will allow you to place padlocks through them. This prevents the door from being raised or jimmied and protects the things in your garage.
Garage to House Doors
Garage to home doors are a favorite among burglars and other predators because they are often concealed and usually very flimsy. You should make sure that your garage to home door is at least 1 1/2″ thick, solid core, and equipped with at least one dead bolt lock.
Doors in General
- As above all exterior doors should be 1 1/2″ thick, solid core, have at least one dead bolt, and if possible metal skinned.
- make sure deadbolts are good quality, made of hardened steel, and solid core.
- Strike plates must penetrate the door lamb and frame. Use three (3″) or four (4″) coarse thread screws to make sure they extend into the frame. Use “L” shaped strike plates made of hardened steel and not the curved ones that typically come with lock sets.
- If you have any windows within 44″ of a door use double key deadbolts so someone can’t break the window and simply reach in and open the lock.
- Consider replacing small windows near doors or in doors with clear Lexan. It is stronger than glass and very difficult to break.
- Consider using more than two deadbolt locks. If you do make sure they are at least 18″ apart.
- If the door opens outwards chances are the hinges are on the outside and the hinge pins can be pulled out and the door lifted off, this is a predators wet dream. If your door does have hinges on the outside, open the door and remove the screws in the center holes of each hinge. On the door side of the hinge drill a hole 1/4″ in diameter and 1 /4-3/8″ deep. On the frame side of the hinge mount a 1/4″ headless screw that extends 1/4-3/8″ (depending on how deep you drilled the hole on the door side). When the door is closed the screws will protrude into the door “pinning it” and making it impossible to easily remove the door even if the pins are removed. If you don’t want to drill holes in the door and hunt up headless screws you can simply pound 20 penny nails into the door where the screws used to be making sure they stick out 1/4″.
Since doors are the most common entry point for predators the locks you have can mean the difference between deterring a predator and basically inviting them right in.
Before we go further you have to understand that there is no such thing as a pick-proof or unbreakable lock, regardless of what lock manufacturers claim. That said, the question is, “How long will it take for a predator to jimmy or break the lock?”
- One of the worst locks for a door is the good old Key-In-Knob lock. They are the easiest to break/jimmy often by simply jamming a screwdriver into the key slot and turning. If this is your only lock, you need to reconsider your security set-up.
- Deadbolt locks should be solid core, meaning the part that slides into the door frame should be hardened steel or have a hardened steel core surrounded by a softer metal like brass. You should make sure that the bolt part extends at least 1″ into the door frame. The striker plate is just as important as the lock itself though it is often overlooked. Try and use an “L” shaped hardened steel striker plate if you can and not the brass curved one that comes with most lock sets. When mounting the striker plate DO NOT use the small 5/8″ screws that come with the lock set. You want to use coarse threaded screws that are 3-4″ long to make sure that you go all the way through the door frame and into the studs surrounding the frame. When you buy a dead bolt don’t skimp, spend the few extra dollars for a good, quality lock set. Medeco locks are made to exceptional quality and are only a few dollars more than their counterparts.
- Consider adding a second deadbolt lock (of the same quality) to the door. If you go with this option make sure they are at least 18″ apart, with 22-24″ being ideal, so the force of any kick or blow from a ram is spread out across a larger area. If you do opt for 2 deadbolts placing one below and one above the door knob is a good idea.
- Consider installing a security storm door with a double-key deadbolt lock. This door adds an extra layer of security and since they open out they can’t be kicked in. The double-key deadbolt prevents a predator from braking any glass in the door and unlocking the door by reaching in.
- Cane bolt locks are mounted at the top and bottom of the door and slide into upper and lower frame of the door and are very effective.
Sliding Glass Doors
As they come from the factory sliding glass doors are pretty easy to penetrate because they can be lifted from their track and the factory locks are pretty flimsy. Fortunately the can be fortified with a few easy modifications just about anyone can do. Rarely will a predator break the glass on a sliding glass door because like roaches they scatter at loud sounds and light.
- Like any other door one of the single best deterrents is keeping the door in plain sight.
- The stationary panel of the door can be removed too, make sure that it is securely bolted to the frame from the inside to prevent it being lifted out.
- Don’t gain a false sense of security because you dropped a broom stick or dowel rod in the track. Either of these can be quickly defeated by a coat hanger shoved between the panels. You should buy a hinged pole that mounts to the frame and not the track of the door.
- To prevent the sliding part of the door from moving you can mount a pair of small deadbolts into the frame of the non-sliding panel. This will require drilling in the frame so be very careful so you don’t break the glass.
- To prevent the panels from being lifted out you can place screws into the frame from the top that extend down far enough to prevent lifting the panel out but not so far you can’t move the panel. These screws should be placed every 8-10″ along the entire track.
- If you want to permanently lock a sliding door drill holes through the frame of the non-sliding panel(be careful you don’t break the glass) and into the track every 6-8″ and place screws into the holes. Keep in mind that you are eliminating an emergency exit by doing this since the screws can not realistically be removed in under 4-5 minutes. Do the same thing for the sliding part of the door, drilling through the frame and track. Instead of placing screws into the holes you drilled in the sliding part of the door consider using nails that can easily be pulled out allowing you an exit.
- Consider placing a second sliding door outside the first one. This not only provides a layer of insulation it also adds a second barrier that most predators would rather not deal with.
In the next part of our series Protecting Yourself we will cover windows and how you can secure them against intrusion and we’ll cover a few steps you can take if you live in an apartment to mitigate your risk of becoming a victim.
I look forward to seeing any comments and as always, Train to Survive!
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