Letter Of The Month – Confidence On The Coastal Walk
Re: the article ‘Coastal Walk Creeps’ by Rupert Truscott- Hughes (The Beast, June 2011) – well, that’s a creepy horror story.
However, I think female joggers should run on the coastal walkway whenever they like. Scare-mongering like this damages people’s quality of life by making them uneasy about their healthy habits and stopping them doing what adds quality to their life, but that is not all it does. It also justifies sick predatory behaviour with the idea that ‘women who run alone on the coastal walkway are asking for it’. A supposed potential victim may also, with that sort of thinking in the back of her mind, be less likely to respond confidently and aggressively should she ever get attacked. Nothing encourages predatory behaviour more than a prey-like panic response.
Moreover, if the article manages to scare joggers away from the coastal walkway outside broad daylight hours then the coastal walkway will be less safe for everybody else in those hours, then even less joggers will want to run there, making it even less safe… and so on – a vicious circle and a poor local strategy.
Here is a better strategy for female joggers who enjoy to run on the coastal walkway and don’t want to be chased away by potential monsters:
• Learn self defence if you are not confident that you can defend yourself. There are plenty of options to learn martial arts, boxing, and other defence techniques in the Eastern Suburbs. You would be safer, and in addition the knowledge that some of the female joggers may have a black belt in karate may in itself heighten the barrier significantly for wannabe creeps, making the coastal walkway safer overall. Plus, you would be more likely to be able to help out if a violent attack did happen to someone else.
• Buy a pepper spray. Sporty, small, handy, chick pepper sprays designed specifically for joggers can be purchased online and are not expensive.
• Run with a big dog. There are plenty of them in the Eastern Suburbs, and it should be possible to loan one on a regular basis for exercise on the coastal walkway, depending on who you know. Many people have a full-time job and a large dog that wants to exercise, so why not? It’s a win-win-win situation. A big dog may or may not defend you if a dangerous situation occurred. In any case, its senses and alertness are stronger than humans, and its presence is likely to make violent creeps think twice.
• Always act confidently in a situation that feels unsafe. Do scenario planning in order to feel prepared should a creepy/violent situation ever occur. Prepare mentally to respond aggressively to dangers rather than prey-like. NEVER let scare-mongering influence your reactions because panic reactions are useless in a dangerous situation. After preparing, don’t think more about it: the mental preparation will stay there, somewhere in the back of the mind, and assist as an appropriate, confident response as possible in the face of danger.
This was just a few potential defensive strategies that are constructive, not scary, as opposed to telling people to always hide in a pack of friends when exercising on the coastal walkway or stay home on the couch outside the ‘safe hours’.