I cope with the risks of violence by trying to always be aware of my surroundings, trusting my gut, and being prepared for anything. We’re taught to be polite and to be caregivers when we should be taught that if we don’t feel comfortable, we don’t owe anyone anything. I also usually carry a knife and have been trained in firearms.
Christine, 37, Austin
As a woman I don’t feel safe in any city after dark and will rarely venture out alone after dark. I feel safe in Austin, but I am always hyperaware that I live in Texas where almost everyone is carrying a gun. I feel unsafe in public in general, again because of Texas gun laws. Women face so much aggression from men if we dare not to be polite, and I worry about retaliation.
As a woman in Texas, I worry about every person I meet. I see guns in coffee shops, craft stores, restaurants. I always feel intimidated. I remain vigilant, and more importantly, I know to trust my instincts. If something feels off, I remove myself from the situation. I don’t often attend big events and avoid crowds in general. Being in a big crowd full of people with open-carry makes me panic, so I know to stay away.
GG, 33, Denver
I feel safe in the city I live in because of the close community and how supportive people are of one another; I wouldn’t consider it more dangerous because it’s a big city. We have a lot of local love, and our community is so great about coming together in times of need to help one another. All women face daily risks, but it is important to always read your surroundings and be prepared for any situation.
Tracy, 32, Nashville
I feel like Nashville has become safer with the extraordinary population growth it has seen, but I know others who have had the opposite experience. It really depends on my whereabouts in the city.
My neighborhood is very residential and feels fairly safe, but police response time across the city is abysmal, which is concerning. In a genuine emergency, I probably would be more inclined to rely on my neighbors for help rather than the police.
My sister says, “A city is a city, no matter how much it feels like a small town.” It can be easy to get caught up in Southern hospitality and let your guard down; you still need to watch your drink here, check the license plates of Ubers you get in— I certainly would never walk around here at night without a group. I grew up having “know your exits” drilled into my head. Over-preparing is my way of coping with anxiety over my safety, whether it’s being home at night, being out at a venue, in a cab, at a bar, etc.
Kate, 35, Chicago
I currently live in a “very safe” neighborhood that just happens to be the middle ground between two feuding gangs, so while I feel 100% safe during the day, I have limited how much I walk around my neighborhood after 10 p.m., just to be safe. My husband and I often play the game Fireworks or Gunshots when we hear loud booms in the night. He is much more nervous about the uptick in local gang activity, but I think it is temporary and also part of the urban experience, unfortunately.