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Living Alone

A great many women today live alone in their home, including a third of all elderly women. In New Zealand in 1992, 1046 instances of sexual violation were reported to the police, leading to 289 prosecutions. A significant number of rapes happen to women at home. Just be aware of this and take sensible precautions.

Here are some guidelines for you to follow:
  • Do not to open the door to strangers at night. Ask strange callers who they are and what they want from behind the safety of your locked door. Preferably, have a door viewer so you can see them. If they want to use the telephone, make the call for them. If they want to sell you something, tell them to come back another time. You could get their name and phone number and say you will ring them. It is best not give out your name.
  • You may wish to use a door guard or chain fitted on your door. But make sure it is very securely screwed to your door and a wall stud. The door should also be solid, preferably without glass panes in it. Door guards should be of very solid construction and very strong. A strong kick or shoulder can easily demolish a door chain. It is better not to open your door. A mesh security door is a good idea. Clearly identify the caller is genuine before opening the door. Ask for identification if not satisfied.
  • Use only your initials in the telephone directory. It is also sensible not to put your name on your letterbox.
  • It is best to report obscene or threatening telephone calls to the police immediately. Try not to get flustered when one occurs. Hang up immediately so as not to encourage the caller. If these calls continue, keep a whistle by the telephone and blow it down the line at the caller.
  • It is best not to introduce yourself when you answer the telephone until you can be sure of the caller's identity. Tell children not to give out information to strangers over the telephone.
  • If possible have a telephone by the bed within easy reach in the dark. If that is not possible consider getting an extending lead for the telephone so it can be put by the bedside. These leads are fairly inexpensive. Dial numbers that glow in the dark are helpful. An emergency call can be made without having to turn on the light.
  • It is best always to close the curtains at night to discourage prowlers.
  • One of the best things you can do is to form a community support group with neighbours to provide mutual support and protection.
  • Learn about self-defence for women. Courses are available. Contact the YWCA or Citizens' Advice Bureau. There are simple ways of defending yourself but you should know what you are doing and practice. Arm yourself with this knowledge and try to keep fit. Why not talk about this with your friends and get them to do a self-defence course with you?
It is impossible to give one set of advice on what you should do if you are confronted by
attacker. You could for instance:
  1. Stay calm and quietly try to talk your attacker out of doing anything brutal. Do this while trying not panic your attacker.
  2. Act very aggressively. Scream, shout, be abusive, wave your arms about furiously, claim to have VD or other diseases.
You must quickly size up the attacker and the situation yourself - do what you think best. You have the right to defend yourself using as much force as you think is reasonable in the circumstance you find yourself.

  • Contact the police immediately and report what happened. You may save other victims the same agony if your attacker is caught.
  • Do not shower or bath even though this may be the first thing you want to do. Remain in the clothes you were wearing. You will be examined to see if vital forensic evidence can be discovered.
  • Get support from a family member, a friend, or someone from a victim support group during your interview with police.
  • It may be some time before you recover from an attack. A trained counsellor, your family doctor, minister, friends, neighbours or support network may be able to help you get over your fears.
  • Other advice on police and court procedures may be needed if a decision is made to take a case of sexual violation to court. Contact Rape Crisis or the police.
Police are available 24 hours a day. In an emergency phone 1 1 1. Tell the operator you want the Police, Ambulance, or Fire Service. The phone number 111 is a priority line and help will come as soon as possible. Stay calm when making the call, and do not hang up. Give your name, address, town and telephone number to the operator answering your call. Answer questions slowly and clearly. Emergency calls are free from all telephones, including payphones and cellular phones.

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Guidelines to follow for those who live alone. Includes special advice for woman living alone, and dealing with attackers

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