What to do if You Feel Unsafe in a Public Place

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Steps You Can Take When You Feel Unsafe in a Public Place

Feeling unsafe in public places is a reality for many people. Whether you’re a woman alone, a parent with children, or a black belt power lifter walking his rottweiler. Walking home alone at night or finding yourself in a crowded and unfamiliar area, it’s important to know how to protect yourself and stay safe.

This post will explore some tips and strategies for handling situations where you may feel unsafe in public. From simple preventive measures to more advanced self-defense techniques, we hope this guide will empower you to feel more confident and prepared. So, let’s dive in and learn how to stay safe when you’re out and about!

Assess Your Surroundings

I know that feeling unsafe in a public place can be a scary and overwhelming experience. However, you can take steps to protect yourself and regain control over the situation.

Walking alone in a park

The first step in staying safe in a public place is to assess your surroundings. Take a moment to look around and determine any potential risks or dangers. Here are some things to consider:

Identify Exits

Subway Exit

Knowing where the exits are located can help you quickly escape dangerous situations, not just crime or active shooters. It’s just as important when managing common fires, natural disasters, and similar threats. Take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the building layout or area you are in and identify the nearest exits.

It’s also a good idea to have a backup plan if your primary exit is blocked or inaccessible. Remember that exits may not always be clearly marked or easily accessible, so staying alert and aware of your surroundings is important. By taking the time to identify exits, you can increase your chances of staying safe in a variety of emergency situations.

Evaluate the Crowd

When you’re in a public place, evaluating the crowd around you is important. Make a mental note of any suspicious behavior or individuals who appear to be acting out of the ordinary. It’s also a good idea to pay attention to the overall mood of the crowd. If people seem agitated or tense, it could be a sign that something is wrong.

Trust your instincts; moving to a safer location is best if you feel uncomfortable or uneasy. In large crowds, having a designated meeting spot or a plan to regroup can be helpful if you become separated from your companions.

Suspect person

By evaluating the crowd and staying alert, you can increase your chances of staying safe in a public place.

Also stay alert for any change in a crowd. The screaming and thrashing at a heavy metal concert is no more dangerous than the quiet diners at a five-star restaurant…but what if those diners started to scream, or everybody in the mosh pit suddenly became still and silent? Both would show that it’s time to pay close attention to what’s happening.

Trust Your Intuition


When we feel something isn’t right, it’s because something isn’t right. Our subconscious picks up on cues we may not consciously notice, which can lead to a feeling that something is off. Don’t ignore these feelings or try to rationalize them away. Instead, listen to your intuition and take action to keep yourself safe.

This might mean leaving the area, finding a

friend or security personnel to accompany you, or even contacting the authorities if you feel in danger.

Remember, your safety is a top priority, and trusting your intuition can be crucial in protecting yourself.

Actionable Steps To Take

Jason’s Podcast speaks about Safety Hacks from world-class experts

Move to a Safe Area

If you feel unsafe in a public place, one of the most effective actions you can take is to move to a safe area. This might mean simply walking away from the area where you feel uncomfortable or finding a more well-lit and populated location. Look for areas with security personnel or police officers and seek their assistance if necessary.

If you are in a building, try to move to a well-trafficked area or a space where you can lock yourself in and call for help. If you cannot move to a safe area, try to draw attention to yourself by making noise or calling out for help.

Each situation is unique, but one general

rule applicable almost always is never to move away from danger.

well lit area with cameras

Instead, move toward safety. This may seem subtle, but it can be incredibly important.

Seek Assistance

police on a corner

If you feel unsafe in a public place, you should seek assistance from others who can help you. Look for security personnel, police officers, or other authority figures who can assist you in getting to a safer area or provide protection.

If there are no security personnel or police officers around, look for other individuals

nearby who can help, such as a store clerk or a passerby. Call emergency services, such as the police or ambulance, for immediate assistance. Mister Rogers said it best: look for the helpers. There is no shame in asking for help when you need some, and most people are happy to provide it.

Stay Alert

Staying alert is crucial in staying safe if you feel unsafe in a public place. Avoid distractions such as using your phone, listening to music, or engaging in other activities that distract your attention from your surroundings.

Instead, stay engaged with your surroundings and note any potential dangers or suspicious activity. By staying alert and aware, you can increase your safety and reduce the risk of becoming a victim in a public place.

Make Eye Contact

Making eye contact with others in a public place can be an effective way to deter potential threats and increase your safety. Maintaining eye contact with others can communicate that you are aware of your surroundings and confident in your presence, making you appear less vulnerable to potential attackers.

walking in a crowd, maintain eye contact

It can also help you to identify individuals to keep an eye on. If you feel unsafe, make eye contact with people and trust your instincts. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable or threatened, avoid engaging with them and move to a safer area. Remember that eye contact is just one tool to increase your safety in public places. It should be combined with other strategies, such as staying alert, seeking assistance, and trusting your intuition.

Use Your Voice

assert yourself

Using your voice is a powerful way to assert yourself and increase your safety. If someone is acting in a threatening or aggressive manner towards you, speak up and assert yourself. Use a firm and confident tone to communicate your boundaries and let the person know their behavior is unacceptable.

If necessary, yell for help or draw attention to yourself to let others know you are in danger. Speaking up can also effectively deter potential attackers and make them think twice before targeting you. Remember that your voice is a powerful tool; using it can help you assert your boundaries, stay safe, and protect yourself from harm in a public place.

Preventing Feeling Unsafe in a Public Place

There are several potential causes for feeling unsafe in a public place. One of the main causes is the fear of crime or victimization. This fear can stem from personal experiences, media coverage, or the perception of crime in a particular area.

Other factors contributing to feeling unsafe in public places include being in an unfamiliar environment, encountering aggressive or unpredictable individuals, or experiencing harassment or discrimination. Poor lighting, inadequate security measures, and a lack of public services and amenities can make people feel unsafe.

Seek Professional Help

If you frequently feel unsafe in public places, seeking professional help may be a good idea. Here are some options to consider:

Take a Self-Defense Course

A self-defense course can increase your confidence and safety in public places. They can also help you develop awareness of your surroundings and recognize potential threats.

Learning self-defense can also help build physical strength, fitness, and cardiovascular health. Even if you never need to karate chop a mugger, those attributes protect you

Self Defense classes

from the top causes of death (heart attack and diabetes, for example), and help you stay active and enjoy life well into your senior years.

Join a Support Group

A support group can provide a safe and supportive environment where you can share your experiences, feelings, and concerns with others who understand what you are going through. It can also be a valuable resource for receiving information, education, and guidance on managing your fears and anxiety.

Support groups can be found in-person and online, some with a tight focus specific to your fears and experiences. A support group can help you feel less alone in your experiences and provide you with community and support.

Talk to a Therapist

If you find that feelings of unsafety in public places are causing you distress or interfering with your daily life, it may be beneficial to talk to a therapist. A therapist can help you work through the underlying issues contributing to your feelings of unsafety, such as trauma, anxiety, or phobias. They can also provide coping strategies and techniques to manage emotions and reduce anxiety in public places.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy are two effective treatments for overcoming anxiety and fears related to safety in public places. A therapist can also help you develop a safety plan and identify resources for support, such as local victim services or self-defense classes. Remember that seeking help from a therapist is a sign of strength, and it can be an essential step towards overcoming your fears and feeling safer in public places.

Consider Applying for a Concealed Carry Permit

concealed carry

Applying for a concealed carry permit is personal and may not be the right choice for everyone. However, for some individuals, carrying a concealed weapon can increase their safety and protect them in public places. Understanding the laws and regulations regarding concealed carry in your area is essential. Further, you should receive proper training and education before obtaining a permit.

Carrying a weapon also comes with a huge responsibility and risks. It’s important to carefully weigh the pros and cons and consider all factors before deciding.

Ultimately, carrying a concealed weapon is a personal choice and should only be pursued after careful consideration and education. If you pursue a concealed carry permit, receive proper training and education to ensure you can use your weapon safely and responsibly.

Feel Unsafe in a Public Place FAQs

What should I do if I am being followed?

If you are being followed, move to a safe area quickly. If you cannot escape, make noise to draw attention to yourself and alert others to the potential danger.

How can I stay safe when traveling alone?

When traveling alone, research your destination and stay in safe areas. Always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return. Carry a self-defense tool, such as pepper spray or a personal alarm.

How can I find a support group for people who feel unsafe in public places?

Support groups can be found both in-person and online. They may be tailored to specific groups, such as survivors of assault or those with anxiety disorders. You can check with local mental health clinics or community organizations to find a support group. Additionally, search online for relevant groups or forums.


  • Jason Brick

    Jason Brick has been a martial artist for 40 years, a journalist for 14, and a father for what feels like several hundred. He has taught self-defense on three continents, coached a high school karate team in Japan, and hosts the award-winning Safest Family on the Block podcast where he interviews world-class experts on every conceivable safety-related topic. He has written or edited over 100 books, and has been featured in venues like Black Belt Magazine, Insider.com, American Express Open Forum, and The Writer. When not practicing fatherhood, journalism, or martial arts he enjoys travel, cooking, and tabletop role-playing games. He lives in Oregon.

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