Safety is not enough of a concern for many Abilene residents. In fact, it almost never crosses our minds. We live in Abilene, after all, the shiny brass buckle of Bible Belt, America. Small town feel, three Christian universities – most would think we live in one of the safest environments.
This is where a problem occurs. Sure, we live in a “Christian bubble,” but we are definitely not in a crime-free zone. Bad things still happen, even in the smallest of towns.
On Aug. 29 and Sept. 5, 2011, two rapes were reported. Both victims were alone in the Abilene Mall parking lot, late into the night. The Abilene Police Department continues to work toward catching the perpetrator(s). Initially, they formed a undercover operation. They later assigned uniformed officers to the mall parking lot during nighttime hours.
Obviously, crime cannot be avoided altogether. No matter what efforts the police may make, violence will take place. Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that average citizens can and should take preventative measures. Here are a few safety tips that could help keep you out of harm’s way.
1) Don’t try to be the hero. We all have a plan of action if someone were to attack us. We would jab them with our car keys and kick them while they groan and moan in pain on the ground. Instead of sticking around, though, it would be so much smarter to run. Don’t try to win the battle by fighting to the death.
2) Stay away from potentially dangerous situations. Sure, some situations are not obviously dangerous. But walking the Lunsford trail by yourself at midnight is obviously dangerous. Going out alone at 3 a.m. is obviously dangerous. Removing oneself from situations like these is always the best option.
3) Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If it’s nighttime and you have to trek through a dark, vacant parking lot to reach your car – call a security guard to escort you. From experience, we know this is can be embarrassing or even somewhat annoying. But it definitely is comforting knowing you have a form of protection.
4) Be aware of your surroundings. We walk in and out of stores with our eyes glued to our cell phones. We dig for our keys while standing beside our cars, rather than having them out and ready to go before stepping foot outside. While doing this, we tend to forget where we are. We must remember that while in public places, such as malls, parks and parking lots, there are or may be people around. Pay attention to who and what is around you at all times.
The assaults that took place last month should remind us that despite how safe the Abilene community is, we are still at risk to be victims of crime. A few small changes to attitude and behavior can reduce that risk, and it is worth it.