Always protect yourself. There are predators everywhere. Here’s how you can have your own back while someone is creepily watching yours.

1. Lock your doors: Gone are the days that your doors can remain unlocked. Robbers and sexual predators will walk right in through an unlocked door. And the scary truth is if they really want to get inside your home, they will. Locking your doors at all times is the first preventative step in protecting your environment.

2. Don’t Open Door to Strangers- Unless you’re expecting company when there is a knock here is a simple rule: don’t open the door. Criminals will pose as cable guys, electricians and plumbers, you name it. Some will dress as a priest. Do not open the door and do not rely on first impressions through your peephole. If it’s that important the visitor will either call or leave a note for you describing the nature of their visit.

3. Have a Home Phone- Sure you rely on your cell service most of the time, you should still have a home telephone line in the event of an emergency. Cell phones can lose service, they can lose battery charge, or it could be taken from you during an attack. A home phone is an affordable necessity for protection, and most cable companies provide home phone lines with basic cable packages. Shop the thrift stores for a phone if you can’t bear to shell out cash for this old-school form of communication.

4. Defend Yourself- A woman should always carry pepper spray in the event that she needs to ward off an attacker. Pepper spray can be used against you, as all weapons can, so it’s important you also take self-defense classes so that you know how to use personal protection, and can feel confident in fighting against an attacker if you need to defend yourself.

5. Stay Close with People– Have lifelines. This includes close family and friends who know your daily routine and keep in touch with you regularly. If something is amiss or they can’t contact you, your lifelines will likely report your absence to the police and you may have a chance at help if you’re ever abducted or held hostage.

6. Never Get in the Car- Do not ever get in a car with an attacker. Do what you must to fight and escape and know that most victims who ride away never come back. Teach your children this life-saving rule as well. Better to die on the street in a battle for your life than be raped or tortured later. Most offenders will not kill in public so fighting for your life will help them fear intervention, and they could take off. Make a scene and scream.

7. Beware Strangers- Many people put themselves in jeopardy through social media platforms and dating sites. Yes, you should lie on your dating profile and never reveal personal information such as your phone number, place of work, or where you live. If you’re using dating services you should go by an alias name until you get to know someone. Never make status updates of when you’re leaving town, and don’t post too many pictures of your home environment. This invites strangers in.

8. Don’t Get Drunk in Public- Being intoxicated makes you prey to sex offenders. Do not go out drunk by yourself, and never leave social places with a stranger you just met if you’re drunk. NEVER invite a stranger into your home, especially when you’re intoxicated. And do not go to theirs. If you are having a random hookup then make sure you have provided the address and the name of the person you’re meeting to a family member or friend. Stay sober if you want to have sex with strangers. And even then, it’s a risk.

9. Have One Weapon- Find one thing in your home that you can use to smack an intruder with on the head. It might be a silver candleholder, a decorative brass seahorse, a baseball bat, or a Maglite. Whatever you can swing and pack a serious punch with. Keep this item in your bedroom next to your bed so that you can grab it in the middle of the night.

10. Trust Your Instincts- Listen to your gut. If you feel something is off then it probably is. Learn how to read people and increase your emotional intelligence. This can be life-saving when you’re dealing with a psychopath. When something tells you to get out, don’t question it, just go. Get the hell out of there. And ditch your heels, if you must. These ten tips can save your life.

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