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I Just Got Punched in the Face? Safety Tips for Women When Walking in a City

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. Andrews chapter.

Halley Kate, a TikTok influencer, recently shared a video explaining a horrifying incident where she was unexpectedly punched in the face by a man in broad daylight. This incident seems part of a broader trend in New York City, as multiple women have subsequently come forward on TikTok to recount similar experiences. Each account mirrors the others, depicting innocent women walking down the street only to be randomly targeted and struck in the face by men. While it remains uncertain if these incidents are connected, one man has been arrested and charged with assault. Consequently, more women have come forward to share their own similar encounters in the streets of NYC. These incidents raise serious safety concerns for women walking alone, specifically in New York City. As many women have reported similar experiences, increased safety measures and awareness are needed. As I love to be independent and walk alone around town or when traveling in a city, it is important to prioritize staying alert at all times. Whether you’re a woman or any gender, taking precautions will increase a safer experience. In this article, I’ll share important safety tips for you to keep in mind while being somewhere solo. 

Staying Alert of Your Surroundings 

Is it important to constantly remain alert and attentive to everything going on around you at all times. Avoid texting while walking or being on your phone in general, which could prevent you from noticing potential dangers. This is something I need to work on as I love to blast music while walking or text my friends back while I’m on the way to meet up with them. Keeping music at a minimum and staying off your cell phone is essential. Additionally, sometimes I like to wear only one airpod while walking so I can listen to music but also hear my surroundings very well. 

Choosing Directions Wisely

Apps such as Google Maps and Apple Maps try to give me fast directions to my locations but sometimes they don’t choose the safest route. Avoid walking down random alleyways, especially at night — it’s not worth the extra minute it saves you. It is much safer to stay on a lit and populated main road where there are other people than to travel down unknown streets. Additionally, I try to memorize routes before walking so I can focus on the right way to go and not stare at my phone the whole journey. 

Keeping Friends and Family Informed

Sharing your location with close friends and family can save lives! Sometimes when meeting up with friends I can get lost trying to find them, especially in a new city. Sharing each other’s Find My iPhone location can help you find each other more easily and safely. Additionally, telling friends estimated times of departure and arrival when you are going somewhere by yourself will increase safety.

Walking With a Purpose

As a child, my Dad would always tell me to “walk with a purpose,” emphasizing that confidence in my stride is key as well as having an assertive demeanor.

Blending In 

Avoid bringing unneeded attention to yourself such as displaying valuable items openly. Dressing for the right environment such as wearing shoes you comfortably walk in will increase safety. In many major cities such as Rome or Paris, pickpocketing and phone theft are extremely common. For example, being oblivious to your surroundings, such as taking a selfie with an extended selfie stick in front of the Eiffel Tower, could result in your phone or other personal items being snatched or worse. 

Sticking Together

As much as I love alone time, traveling, walking, and going places even as minor as the bathroom with friends will always increase safety. For example, if while out in a group one of your friends decides to leave the function early, be sure to walk them home or ensure they safely take a cab, especially if they’ve been drinking alcohol and especially if it is nighttime.

Self Defense

Carrying items such as pepper spray can be held for extreme caution. But knowing how to properly use these items is essential. Additionally, knowing basic self-defense techniques can help you in case of an attack. Practicing strong communication and giving yourself distance from others you may encounter on the street is key. 

Overall these incidents highlight broader societal issues related to gender-based violence and the need for preventative measures and interventions of such behavior. Applying these tips to your daily routine can save lives. It’s important to care and look out for one another and if you see something out of the norm, say something. In a recent TikTok following her incident, Halley Kate has acknowledged the distressing reality of women facing these incidents but refuses to let this impact her life: “While it’s obviously really upsetting and disgusting that women even have to deal with sh*t like this, I am personally not going to revolve my life around that one incident and be afraid to walk around the sheets, go to restaurants, live my life. But I think this serves as a good wake-up call just to be a little more aware of my surroundings and that’s not just in New York City, literally anywhere in the world.”

Julia Marotta

St. Andrews '25

Julia is a third-year student at the University of St Andrews studying English and Management. She is the Chapter Writer Coordinator of Her Campus St Andrews. In her free time, she plays soccer and loves to read.