Getting To Know You – Personal Safety


In your opinion, what would you consider a violation of a person’s personal safety?

Feeling safe might just be the most important human need. While it is nice to feel loved and appreciated, liked, admired, needed – it all loses its value to a degree if you don’t feel safe.


Violating somebody’s safety is to take advantage of a power imbalance. It can be a landlord threatening to take away your home if you cannot pay the rent. It can be a husband threatening to leave if you do not stop seeing your friends. It can be a man walking down the street, giving you as much as a dirty look. It can be a manager making you feel as though you can be replaced anytime.

To take advantage of a power imbalance, in even the smallest way, is to violate a person’s safety.

Have you experienced a time when you helped someone whose personal safety was at risk?  How did you handle the situation?  What would you do differently, if anything?

Having worked as a support worker for people with disabilities for many years, I was responsible for protecting my clients’ personal safety constantly. Studies indicate that people with intellectual disabilities are four to ten times more likely to have acts of violence committed against them. What that meant to me as a support worker was to basically not ever trust anybody, to always look for signs, especially with non-verbal clients, that might indicate that somebody has taken advantage of the power imbalance.

The scary part was that I could only ever do my best. And I will never know if that was enough. There are too many people out there who have to worry about their personal safety constantly. Every single moment of their lives.


From experience, what has been your reaction/or action to having your personal safety at risk?

Unfortunately, when I have the option of fight or flight, my fight instinct always kicks in. I don’t have an aggressive personality when dealing with day to day life, but when I feel threatened my first reaction has always been to be confrontational. Whether it’s advisable or not, I’m the person who turns around when I think someone’s following me.

Crystal Carswell

What precautions, if any do you put in place when going out for an evening by yourself, or traveling alone?

I am very self -aware in regards to my safety. When getting into my car I look in the back seat and pay attention to my surroundings. If I’m heading home, and someone has been following me for too long, I drive past my house first to see if they’ll turn off. If I’m traveling for a long period, I ensure my phone is charged and that someone knows when to expect me.

Ever have one of those funny feelings – when a situation doesn’t feel right? Do you listen to your instincts, or are you more prone to reasoning an uneasy feeling away? Can you share an experience and how you handled it?

I had a very upsetting situation years ago. I was living alone and someone tried to break into my bedroom window while I was sleeping. I called the police, and they fingerprinted the area. The next night a man showed up at my door asking to use my phone, saying his car had broken down and he needed to call CAA. Obviously, I was hyper-aware at the time, but I just knew it was him. I called the police while he stood there watching me, then he took off on foot. I watched him go into a house down the street, and it turned out I had a stalker in one of my neighbours. He was arrested, but a friend of mine who was a cop suggested I move, as he wouldn’t be in for long.

I ALWAYS trust my instincts when I feel unsettled



In your opinion, what would you consider a violation of a person’s personal safety?

I believe that violation of a person’s personal safety is anything where the person feels uneasy, unsafe or uncomfortable. It is a broad definition but every individual

will feel and handle a situation differently.

From experience, what has been your reaction/or action to having your personal safety at risk?

Sam Graves

Each experience is unique! I have quickly learned that each situation needs a different response. I used to find that my reaction was to quickly and aggressively respond. This seemed like a great idea but it led to the situations escalating quickly. I now know that it is better to remain calm and remove myself from the violation whenever possible. I still like to make the person/people aware that what they did is wrong but I remain calm and focused on my personal safety.

What precautions, if any do you put in place when going out for an evening by yourself, or traveling alone?

Criminal Minds, Law & Order, and basically every other crime show are top ten in my home. It’s completely unrealistic to think that every noise in darkness is going to make me the victim but I do. To make me feel safe when going out I always let my boyfriend know where I am going and when I plan to return. Another thing about me is when I got my first car my dad told me to keep my tire iron next my seat in case of emergency. It seemed like he was being paranoid but I listened. Now, I still to this day keep it there just because it gives me peace of mind. Luckily I have never had to use but I will continue to keep it there and recommend it my friends.

Are you prepared to protect your own personal safety when threatened? How do you plan to do this?

I think that we all like to believe we would know what to do when our personal safety was threatened. But after taking a hard look at my own life, I can’t be sure if I would know. We’ve heard of the fight or flight response, and I like to think that I am someone who would fight. Ideally to protect my own safety, I need to put safety measure into place such always making an effort to be aware of my surroundings (not just at night), checking in with someone about my whereabouts, and even taking a self- defense class. In my high school, we had 2 gym classes where an outside instructor came in and taught us self defense. My 15 year old self didn’t really care about the techniques and to retain any of the information. (Boy, was that a mistake)

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