Public transportation, walking home, enjoying the city, parties, and sporting events. These are all things we use or do to enjoy our lives. But for young women, these activities have a different meaning.
“Being on public transportation in a city at night can be uncomfortable at times, especially as a young woman,” Grayson, a college student, said. “You don’t necessarily know when people are looking at you, what they’re thinking or how they are going to act. Sometimes, it is completely harmless, but there is always a moment of okay, this can go two ways.”
Grayson, who is attending school outside of Chicago, said her experience has opened her eyes to the precautions women must take every day.
“Any time you leave home for the first time it is really scary despite whether you are going into a city or residential community. I think it is important if you’re a young adult, especially a young woman to be aware of your surroundings,” she said. “It is an unfortunate reality as you get older and I’ve learned as you get exposed to more, young women need to look out for each other and look out for themselves."
Grayson said she understands how overwhelming the experience can be. “When you go to college for the first time and you move away from home, you’re not familiar with the area that you’re in, so it is hard to think clearly or to know how to respond and react in a way that helps yourself in the most protective manner.”
At the university Grayson attends, there are tools in place to protect students such as the blue light system and campus police. During orientation, the school even provided students with a portable safety alarm.
“[The alarms] weren’t the most practical devices, I think, to be carried around. In terms of how they were made, and they were faulty, the alarms would go off at random times. They became more of an inconvenience to students,” she explained.
Grayson takes steps to proactively ensure her safety, “I call my friends or parents when I am walking alone at night. I always cross the road if I see someone who might be acting in a dangerous way or is a potential threat. I'll make sure that if I am wearing headphones that I don’t put my volume all the way up [because] I want to be able to hear my surroundings. I always stay close to my friends when I am in an unfamiliar environment, or I am at a party.”
While Grayson has always had a plan to maintain her safety, she said during the start of her college career she did not have any self-defense devices.
“I am not the type of person who would feel comfortable handling a gun, stun gun, or pepper spray. Just because they are bigger objects and they are hard to carry around and they can be dangerous if not used properly,” she said. “Now, I own a Byrna Banshee, it is something that I see myself using and it is something that provides me a lot of comfort and safety.”
“The Byrna is ear piercingly loud, it is very, very loud,” Grayson said. “When I think about certain situations that can happen at parties, in cities where it is loud, dark, and anytime I think about potentially being in an unsafe situation I think about how I want other people to respond quickly and to hear that I am in an unsafe situation.”
Grayson said she also loves that the Byrna Banshee is small, portable, and can be placed in a pocket or clipped onto a keychain. It is the device that everyone should own.