How To Stay Safe in New York City: Tips for Women

Yesterday, the Voice reported that a tourist was raped in her Bronx hotel room.

Cops say the perp talked to the victim on train departing from East 14th Street and Union Square. Around 4 a.m., after she had returned to her East Tremont hotel, the alleged assailant knocked on her door. When she opened it, he forced the door open and attacked her.

Obviously, this is awful and heinous, and we feel for the victim and hope she's OK. It's also scary as shit: if you're a woman, some stranger has probably tried to chat you up on the subway, so it's worrisome to think that that guy could be an attacker.

That said, we've assembled some safety tips for women in New York City.


Know what's up with your surroundings. Attackers often try to take advantage of the "element of surprise," so eliminating said element -- like, not being wrapped up in a text convo or being tuned out to the world with your iPod -- tends to be a good idea.


Even say to yourself: "Something doesn't seem right, I don't know if everything is cool, but I'm being irrational -- these are just my feelings." Well, fuck that noise: Go with your gut. If shit doesn't feel safe, leave. You are probably better at subconsciously picking up non-verbal communication skills than you think. Science says so.


Have an escape plan. Don't sit on the inner aisle of a bus or subway seat if you can avoid it, and it's always a good idea to sit nearest an exit and closest to a conductor or driver. Know how to get out of any location fast. If some jackass demands that you go somewhere at gun or knife point, don't: Your chances of survival lessen drastically if you do, so yell like hell and run. Do whatever you can to get out of a dodgy situation. Another thing: if you're traveling by yourself in the city, wear shoes in which you can run. Stilettos are great, but unless you can pop them off in a heartbeat and haul ass, opt for something safer.


Got nails? Then use 'em if you have to. Though some worry that attacking might provoke the perp into being more violent, stats again suggest that this isn't the case -- you have better chances for avoiding attack if you fight back. You aren't only right to defend yourself -- you also have legal justification to do so. Go for the groin and eyes.


Unfortunately, most of us womenfolk are brought up to be polite and passive with attention and compliments -- even if we don't want to interact with anyone, we're still taught not to be "rude" and directly shoot anyone down. Newsflash: It's high time that manners shit ends, especially in the big city, because it can compromise our well being. You have no obligation to talk to strangers or be nice to them. You don't have to politely decline anyone's proposition or pickup line -- you can ignore it or tell them to fuck off, totally your call. You don't have to give anyone directions or tell them what you're reading at the coffee shop, or whether you're heading home from work. You also don't have to open the door to anyone that you don't feel comfortable with. You have the right to interact with whom you want, so use that right, especially if you think it can make you safer.


Consider picking a more populated subway car, and trying not to stand alone when you're waiting for a train or bus late at night. Walk like you know where you're going, not wide-eyed and confused-looking. Don't take dark shortcuts when you walk home. Keep your keys in-hand for protection. If someone is following you, head to a non-sketchy area ASAP, such as a bodega where you're cool with the staff. If a car bothers you while you're walking, cops say you should "turn around and walk in the opposite direction." Do that as much as you need to. Usually, the motorcreep will get discouraged.


Shoulder purses are easy to snatch. If someone robs you, it's safer to let it go and just file a police report. Keep your bag close to you, such as tucked into your elbow.

Info from ABC,, USA Today, NYPD.

Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
Kita St Cyr
Kita St Cyr

OK, but was anything said in this article different from what you've been told your entire life?  As women, don't we just kinda have this constant fear of our surroundings ingrained in us?  Doesn't it seem like every time someone's raped or attacked and the media gets hold of it, the response is "here's what YOU can do to be smarter than that woman?"  


Pardon my followup. You don't " cock" a double action revolver like a 2 inch .38.  It is double action, not an 1885 Colt single Action.  You also don't cock most modern autos - they are double action, like a Glock or S&W or Baretta Nano.  The only one that needs to be "cocked" is a government .45 (1911 design) which weighs about 40 ounces, way too heavy and classic versions of the military Browing.  Small autos, such as a .380 do not need to be cocked (Walther, Bersa).  NYPD carry mostly Glocks.  There are very small Glocks.  They are double action. What is all this talk about having to "cock" the hammer back?   Trigger pull on a double action is about 7 pounds.  If you cock it back (S&W 2 inch .38) the pull is down to 3 pounds.  Why would you cock the hammer back in a defensive situation?  Some autos have a safety, some, like Glocks, don't.  Glock does not have an exposed hammer to cock back like a government .45. None of the Glock clones have an exposed  hammer so they can't be "cocked."  The Beretta 92, the military sidearm, is also double action. The first round goes double action, then the 92 cocks itself as it chambers the next round. Why would one carry a defensive handgun in a case? SIg-Sauer is double action, so is Ruger.  So where would one see a revolver or pistol these days that had to be cocked?  Antique auction or reproduction sales like Ruger's Vacquero. Yes, even the revered Browning is double action these days.  New Yorkers should know this. Aren't they supposed to know everything?


My opinion: All New Yorkers who are civilians are disarmed and they are the prey.  The perps can go at them any time.  The East Bronx, my old home, is now gated like Baghdad. I live in Northern VA, still enjoy the Village Voice from my old days at NYU.  In VA a perp has to weigh that the prey will  be armed.  We are a "shall issue" state. Concealed permits are common.  So, if a woman carries or a woman screams and someone else carries - well, the perp may have a problem. Perps thus go to Baltimore, DC and the fringes of unarmed Montgomery County, Maryland.  The real problem is the psyche job that more guns mean more violence; New Yorkers are taught to cringe anf be fearful. Don't dare fight back. If you go out at night, it's your fault. Meanwhile your Mayor has armed bodyguards. That's what you are taught - be afraid. When I go to Costco around my home, there are probably 10 citizens carrying concealed firearms in routine manners, not to mention off duty cops.  The area is full of ex-mils like me.  The area does not belong to perps at night. I don't live in Baghdad. The crime rate is not like the Bronx. But to New Yorkers in the boroughs, I say keep on paying taxes so Manhattan can have more cops, the best snow removal and trash pickup.  Nothing changes.  You are prey.  Let me really knock your shoes off: free men own weapons.  Ask Dr. Rice why her family owned a firearm.  When free people are armed they own the night versus perps.  Virginia is an open carry state, too.  According to the standard NYC psyche job, VA should be a hotbed of violent gun crime, right?.  Guns should drive people crazy with violence, right?  Wrong. NYC is so twisted that if the vic had used a weapon to defend herself, she would have been arrested in NYC.  Plenty of ex NYC residents around here in VA.  Interesting why they left.  They are no longer sheep.  Forget the Yankee B.S., the midnight pastrami insult, and the greatest city in the world lie - the boroughs are looted every day by Manhattan, always will be. Manhattan from the battery up to Columbia on the West side might be great, but the city has four other boroughs full of serfs. And Baghdad gates.

Now Trending

New York Concert Tickets

From the Vault