Be confident to avoid attacks, advises charity

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The Suzy Lamplugh Trust, a leading authority on personal safety issues, has said that LGBT people should develop techniques that help them to appear more confident and assertive in public.

The trust says that confidence is a key weapon in avoiding hate crimes.

“Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people often rely upon ‘being invisible’ to remain safe,” says the trust’s chief executive Julie Bentley.

“However, research shows that looking confident is a real deterrent to attackers.

“Look purposeful, stay alert, hold your head up and be aware of your surroundings, even in areas that you know very well. Be confident. You have the right to be safe.”

The trust has used LGBT History Month to release their top ten pieces of good advice to the gay community about personal safety:

1. LGBT people experience a high proportion of aggression in or around their home from neighbour harassment. Think about the places in your neighbourhood where you would be confident of finding people you could ask for help.

2. Think about where the danger spots may be along your regular routes, and how you could avoid them (e.g. waste land, dark alleyways, deserted or poorly lit areas etc)

3. Walking against the direction of oncoming traffic will help you avoid kerb crawlers.

4. If you feel at all threatened by someone, take evasive action. Move away, cross the road etc. and move towards somewhere where there are other people.

5. Consider carrying a personal shriek alarm. Carrying an alarm can give you extra confidence and you can use it to shock and disorientate attackers giving you time to get away.

6. If a vehicle pulls up suddenly alongside you, turn and walk in the other direction – you can turn much faster than a car.

7. We all have the right to wear any clothes we wish, but we also need to be aware what effect our choice of clothes may have on others. Think about clothes you can move in easily should you need to get away fast.

8. Be mindful that alcohol and drugs use will reduce your ability to keep yourself safe.

9. Avoid confrontation. Do not meet aggression with aggression. Learn to talk your way out of problems, stay calm, and speak confidently, slowly and clearly. Breathe out slowly to help you relax.

10. When travelling on public transport, take note of where the emergency alarms are and try to sit near to them – there are alarms on every bus, in every train carriage and on every platform. If you feel threatened, make as much noise as possible to attract the attention of the driver or guard. Sound the emergency alarm and if on a station platform you can use the telephone at the Help Points.

“Many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people often face threats to their personal safety on a daily basis, just because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Ms Bentley.

“This is totally unacceptable and we hope to help by giving information and advice on how to minimise the threats they face; and to support personal safety strategies to increase both their confidence and safety.”

The trust was created in memory of Suzy Lamplugh, a London estate agent who disappeared in 1985.

The 25-year-old was due to show a house to a potential buyer, and despite exhaustive police investigations her whereabouts remain a mystery.

However, she has been presumed murdered and legally declared dead.

Her parents, Paul and Diana Lamplugh founded the trust to highlight the risks people face and to offer advice, action and support to minimise those risks.

They were both awarded the OBE for their services to charity.