There were 39,000 property crimes reported to the police in Atlanta last year. Think about that.  That’s more than 100 a day.

Now think about how many more crimes there would be if people weren’t constructing armed compounds around themselves, at enormous financial and psychological expense.

I read a neighborhood post yesterday that really made me think.  A woman reported that she was alone in her house with her baby when somebody rang the doorbell in the middle of the night, then kicked in the door.

She grabbed her child, went to a secluded place, and hid there while dialing 911.

That’s really smart.  I probably would have headed right for the front door to see who was there, which could have been disastrous in this case.

A second incident was also reported on the website — starting with a doorbell ringing in the middle of the night.  So be prepared to act defensively if somebody rings your doorbell or knocks on the door at a strange time.

And think about how you would escape from your own house, if somebody came in through the front door, the back door, the garage.  Terrible to have to think this way, but there it is.

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There is one self-defense book I think everybody should read.  It’s called The Gift of Fear, by Gavin De Becker.  Ignore the title.  It’s an important book because it actually trains you to listen to your instincts — not just to cope with situations that involve strangers, but also to evaluate the possible dangers from people you meet or know: intimate partners, potential dates, work colleagues, and so on.  De Becker isn’t paranoid, and he certainly doesn’t view all men as potentially violent towards women — none of that.  He simply teaches readers to “give themselves permission” to act on gut feelings by seeking safety.  You won’t hear me spout New Age lingo like that very often (not to mention the word “lingo”), but that’s his method.  And people nowadays need permission, sometimes, to react to an unexpected situation or to get away from an abuser.  We have been trained to be too sensitive towards all the wrong things: I think of all those people on the MARTA train studiously saying nothing while “MARTA Girl” threatened that elderly woman.

Much of the book is about anticipating danger.  If you know a woman who is in or has ever been in a violent relationship, buy her this book today.  It is better than talking yourself blue in the face, even if she is not ready to protect herself.  It will save both of you a lot of time.  If you have a daughter or son going off to college, or starting to date, make them read this book.  If you have friends moving to a new neighborhood, buy them this book, because people are especially vulnerable to crime when they move.  If you have friends or employees who work late in restaurants — well, you get the point.

If you’re going to do one thing to protect yourself, read this book.  It’s really that good.

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