Easy Prey as an 18yr old Female Alone

Mar 17th, 2001, 11:05 PM
  #1  
Jessy
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Easy Prey as an 18yr old Female Alone

I'm going to Italy with a friend this summer. We both need a lot of time alone, and as we are female and only 18 years old, we are considering something along the lines of pepper spray. Would anyone advise that we bring or not bring something like that? Additionally, we intend to spend at least half our time away from the general tourist population.

Thanx
 
Mar 18th, 2001, 12:07 AM
  #2  
Art
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Hi Jessy, from prior posts on this subject, I think that pepper spray may be illegal. You need to check on it.
 
Mar 18th, 2001, 04:47 AM
  #3  
sylvia
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As there are two of you, you should be OK. If you behave like Italian girls you should have no trouble. If you go around showing everything you've got and making bold eye contact then you will.
 
Mar 18th, 2001, 05:10 AM
  #4  
Seece
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It seems what you are telling us is that even though you are traveling together, you plan to split up and do things solo a lot. You are probably not in a lot of physical danger, except perhaps around Naples (others can add or subtract to that list) from mugging or rape, but you might find yourself in harassing kinds of situations that can be distasteful and unsettling.

I second the recommendation to behave in a way that doesn't draw attention to your youth-and-beauty. That does include a wardrobe with the seductiveness-index dialed down, but more important it means looking as if you know where you are, what you're doing, and where you are going. A lot of smiling and talking to strangers, not to mention giggling giddily with each other, will suggest you are young, inattentive, and inexperienced. This is just plain good advice for walking on any city street in the world, BTW. If you make eye-contact with people -- e.g., on subways -- make sure you are looking more wary than friendly. (Looking directly at dubious people who might be in a position to pickpocket you is one way to discourage them.)

But it's really not that great an idea to split up very often, if for no other reason than no one would be there if you got lost or hit by a car or fall down. During the day you may want to do different things, but I'd strongly suggest you stick together after dark.

(And pepper spray will never get through anyone's customs.)
 
Mar 18th, 2001, 12:06 PM
  #5  
Cindy
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Sorry to put this so bluntly, but you'll want to be especially suspicous of anyone who offers to "help" you. So, for instance, perhaps you find yourself lost and consulting a map. A man comes up and offers to help, maybe by indicating the thing you are looking for is right around the corner, and he'll lead the way. Nope, nope, nope. Decline all unsolicited offers of assistance from men. Remember that you're there to see the sights and have fun, not to meet guys, and you should be OK.
 
Mar 18th, 2001, 02:15 PM
  #6  
Jessy
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I thank you for your responses, and welcome more, but am a little offended that the immediate assumption is that because I am 18 and female, I will dress like a street walker and behave rather idiotically in public. I can only wonder what the responses would have been like if I had included the fact that I have blonde hair. Although I do not feel the need to prove myself, I will say that I have neither the budget to introduce a new, tighter wardrobe for the three weeks I am spending in Italy, nor the self confidence to walk around in little more than a dishrag. However, I have absolutely no objections to people assuming that I am pretty, which I will take as a compliment. So thank you, and I welcome more suggestions to further my pursuit for safety when alone in Italy. By the way, this is not my first time in Italy--I was there last summer with an art college.
 
Mar 18th, 2001, 02:45 PM
  #7  
StCirq
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I am fairly confident that pepper spray cannot be taken on an airplane. You might want to check the airline regs before you find the authorities onfiscating it. If you can't take it, take a small plstic spray bottle with you, and when you get there, fill it half full of water. Put a dozen cloves of garlic in it, peeled. Go to the alimentaria and buy the hottest red pepper flakes or sauce you can find. Fill the remainder of the bottle with this. Let it sit for two days. Shake well and carry it with you. There, I knew my old interest in herbal remedies would prove useful one day.
 
Mar 18th, 2001, 07:09 PM
  #8  
Duh
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So if you know everything, why are you asking us?

People gave you solid advice. Why are you getting in a snit, Jessy?
 
Mar 18th, 2001, 07:26 PM
  #9  
xxx
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No one was assuming that you were attractive. Unless you are painfully ugly, many men would like to sleep with you simply because you are 18. It's not a compliment, dear.
 
Mar 18th, 2001, 08:19 PM
  #10  
Donna
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Jessy: I don't believe anyone is suggesting that wouldn't dress or behave properly. At 18, you simply lack experience. I'm with those who recommend against venturing out alone much. I'm guessing that you would be overcome by an attacker long before you could access your little spray bottle, get it pointed in the proper direction, and spray accurately - and that a small plastic spray bottle would not have nearly a powerful enough spray to obtain the desired results. My recommendation would be to bring the loudest small whistle you can find. Then, either wear it around your neck, or around your wrist, with the whistle tucked into your palm at all times if you're walking along. So long as there are other people around (surely you won't be wandering the wilderness or deserted streets by yourself), a few loud blasts on your whistle will draw attention to your situation and convince the offender to run like the dickens. If I were 18 and planned a lot of time to myself away from the general tourist population in a foreign country, I'd acquire a black belt in one of the martial arts before setting off.
 
Mar 18th, 2001, 10:09 PM
  #11  
Florence
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Pepper spray, herbal remedies spray .. all are illegal in most European countries. Apart from the fact that its efficacy would be more than dubious against a determined agressor, you'd get in trouble with the law using it. The whistle idea is only slightly better (who's going to come to your help in a dark alley off the beaten tourist tracks ? by the time someone reacts and/or the police comes, it will certainly be too late). And as for the black belt in martial arts, don't kid yourself.

Better just use common sense, as the majority of posters have advised.

 
Mar 18th, 2001, 10:34 PM
  #12  
Wondering
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Sir Cirq - pleawe explaine what to do when yout little rpay bottle is clogged and the stuff burns your hand. Do you have a good heral remedi for that? I'm still trying to figgure out what would spray when you shake up pepper flaks and garlc gloves anwy. Ten clovs of garlic wuld not fit in a reeel small spray bottle anywy hugh? So, FLO, dont you think if you stay away from those of the beeten traks as you shoudl thre will be eyewitnessss. The pont is not so much to get immediate assistance as to snd the bumm runing off. A blac belt is way more uself tahn common sense. With a black belt you dont need commons sense. Youn can defend yourself nicly. And everyone alwas says tey wished they has listned to theire common sense. When the didnt;
 
Mar 19th, 2001, 12:45 AM
  #13  
Florence
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Sorry Wondering,

Reason I jumped on this thread is that I have 3 black belts in Judo, Aikido and Kendo, have been teaching martial arts for the best part of the last 15 years, and travelled solo to quite a lot of really dangerous places. A black belt is no real protection in a really dangerous situation where the rules of the dojo don't apply anymore, thinking it does is just deluding oneself and looking for trouble, unless you are built like a sumo wrestler. Only useful thing you learn from martial arts is the ability to spot a dangerous situation and maybe to avoid it. You don't stand a chance against someone bigger or meaner than you (why do you think there are weight categories in combat sports ?).

As for attracting help with a whistle, this is an illusion for the most part. Most people will rather use the sound as a signal to lock up the doors and windows, not to go to the rescue of an innocent young lady, not even to call the police ("I don't want to get involved !") ... You might scare a bum who thinks he's found an easy prey, but not a real agressor.

So the best solution for a solo traveller (male or female) is to stay out of trouble areas.
 
Mar 19th, 2001, 01:04 AM
  #14  
meg
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Hi Jessy
My daughter went backpacking around Spain on her own when she was 18. She never once felt really threatened but found the attentions of the Spanish males just so annoying. Every time she wanted to take a rest from walking she was harassed (not directly) just a male cooing at you and whispering "Bella" or, in one case, offering to help her find the Prado when she was right outside!! That particular man was still waiting outside for her when she emerged from the gallery two hours later. She had to do some serious shaking off i.e. running away. Fortunately she's a fsat runner. One story that I'm glad I didn't know about beforehand was when she arrived in Seville late at night and couldn't find the hostel. She approached a group of men on the street corner and one of them offered to take her to another hostel nearby. She followed him and he was genuine and delivered her safely to the door. So not all men are predatory. By the way E. is slim, attractive and she's a blonde!!!
 
Mar 19th, 2001, 01:08 AM
  #15  
sylvia
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A good tip on shouting for help. Don't shout "help", shout "fire". That's more likely to get attention and people will actually come out to look.
Nobody is suggesting that you are a bimbo, but American girls often dress in a less modest way than traditional Europeans.
 
Mar 19th, 2001, 01:34 AM
  #16  
Florence
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Sylvia, you're right, just learn how to shout "fire" in the local language ... ;-)
 
Mar 19th, 2001, 01:47 AM
  #17  
Kate
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Jessy,

All you have to do is take the same care that you would at home. Italy is no more 'dangerous' but the men do tend to be a little more forward - it's the Latin temperament!!

If you're spending time in the major tourist spots then English is widely spoken so that shouldn't be a problem. Don't worry about some of the comments above - modest isn't necessarily the word that you would use to describe most young Italian women!

Be confident and enjoy yourselves - you should have a ball!!
 
Mar 19th, 2001, 04:28 AM
  #18  
frank
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Sadly the very fact that you are American is enough to convince some guys that you are a whore.
Some of them really think that casual sex must be there for the asking- that American girls do it all the time.They also say the same about English girls.
Men here in the UK used to say it about Swedish girls.
Many Arab men think it about all western women.
Just be aware that some Italian guys don't look on you as they would Italian girls.
 
Mar 19th, 2001, 05:09 AM
  #19  
nopepper
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Forget the pepper spray, the Italians themselves can be your best protection. Note the presence of families, nuns, older people in your vicinity, they can be very protective of young women on their own if they are solicited politely for help.
 
Mar 19th, 2001, 05:12 AM
  #20  
Tchik
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Hi, Jessy -- Don't bother to be all offended about suggestions reress and behavior. The last poster is correct, that many Mediterraneans assume American girls are loose; and many also believe that our supposedly greater freedom/"liberation" (an illusion, but that's another thread) means we deserve to get treated badly and disrespectfully, and that harassing and hitting on us is no more than we "deserve."

On top of that, I think you'll be surprised to see how cluelessly some young American women behave -- I guess thinking Europe is just another version of Ft. Lauderdale at break or Epcot!

If you know very much Italian, however, you will have a big advantage. I found that simply looking contemptuously and forbiddingly at some of them and saying "basta! Vada via!" (Enough, go away) could shut down the heckling.

But I'm still puzzled by how you are thinking about your summer. What, exactly, do you mean by "we need a lot of time alone"? What does that actually mean in terms of what you would do?

I would guess, however, that staying away from tourist areas will actually mean you'll be safer rather than the reverse -- e.g., if you are going to spend time around universities, residential areas, etc. Get good info re:rougher areas of the towns you'll visit, and I imagine you'll be fine.
 

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