Protecting Yourself Against Personal Crimes

by Scott Grabel

personal crimes Crime is an unfortunate reality, regardless of where one may live. It can manifest in several different ways, such as crimes against property or crimes against persons. The best way to avoid becoming a victim of personal crimes is to understand what they are and by learning how to protect oneself against them.

Defining Personal Crime

Crimes against persons, often referred to as personal crimes, can be most devastating, as they often affect a person both physically and emotionally. Personal crimes may occur at the hands of strangers, acquaintances, or those with whom a personal relationship has been developed. These crimes are typically violent and may involve assault and/or battery, sexual abuse, rape, homicide, and kidnapping. Hate crimes and certain types of robbery are also considered personal crimes. Robbery that involves personal contact between the victim and the robber, such as muggings and purse snatching, also fall under this category.

  • Terms and Definitions – Crime Type: Provided by the Bureau of Justice Statistics website, this page offers a very clear and basic definition of personal crimes.
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  • Personal Crimes of Violence: The Future of Children provides an overview of personal crimes of violence against children. Readers will also find statistics included in the article.
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  • Hate Crimes: This article provides an explanation of what hate crimes are, and where they stand in terms of brutality when compared with other personal crimes. Victim treatment and therapy is also reviewed.
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  • Criminal Law - Crimes Against Persons: With this resource, readers are taken to a PDF document that is a lesson on personal crimes. The document explains crimes against persons and also gives more in-depth explanations of each type of crime that falls within that category.
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  • Crime Types – Crimes Against Persons: This is a PDF document from the city and county of Denver, Colorado. The document lists and defines various types of personal crimes, including aggravated assault, homicide, and sexual assault.

Protecting Yourself Against Personal Crimes

While it is not always possible to prevent a crime from happening, there are many way that people can better protect themselves. Awareness is a key step that can go a long way in deterring personal attacks and other crimes from occurring. Whether a person is shopping, walking to and from his or her car, or taking a walk, one should always be aware of their surroundings. By staying alert and aware, a person may be more likely to notice suspicious or alarming activity.

Whenever possible, one should avoid walking in dark, poorly lit areas, or in places where there are few people around. While walking, it is important to do so with a sense of confidence. Assailants often look for people who appear weak and "easy" to victimize. Being prepared is also a good way to protect oneself from personal harm. When approaching one's car or home, have keys in hand and ready to unlock and relock the door. Sifting through one's purse or pockets for keys leaves them distracted, vulnerable, and creates an opportunity for an attacker to grab or harm their victim. If approached by a potential assailant, a person can still protect take steps to get to safety by drawing attention to the situation by making noise and resisting as much as possible.

  • Personal Crimes in Different Situations: This article from the Oregon State University Department of Public Safety and Oregon State Police website addresses students; however, the advice given is valuable for the general public as well. It addresses various locations and how a person can best protect themselves in different situations, such as in a vehicle, in one's residence, or while walking outdoors.
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  • Crimes Against Persons: The District of Columbia Metropolitan Police website lists ways to protect oneself from personal crimes. The tips on protection methods are categorized by location in a user-friendly format.
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  • Personal Safety Tips - Protect Yourself Against Crimes of a Sexual Nature: Read this public safety article for tips on how to protect oneself against sexual assault. The article also includes what people should do if they have been sexually assaulted.
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  • How to Protect Yourself While Shopping: This link gives the readers tips on how to protect themselves from personal crimes that may occur while they are shopping.
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  • Personal Safety - How to Protect Yourself from Crime: With this resource, readers can view a PDF brochure that outlines how people can protect themselves from both personal and property crimes. On the second page of the brochure, readers are given safety tips for when they are on the street, riding public transportation, and when they are driving.

Help for Victims

If a person finds themselves the victim of a crime, it is important to contact the authorities immediately. Depending on the nature of the crime, medical attention may be necessary. Beyond medical treatment, some victims may experience difficulties days, weeks, and even months after the crime has been committed. There are often victim's assistance programs available, as well as professional counseling or group support meetings.

Victims of abuse may need help in terms of finding shelter from an abusive environment, or may wish to look into their legal options. In some cases, victims of personal crimes may seek compensation from the state for assistance in paying medical bills and any loss of wages due to the incident. Victims are typically able to get information from their physicians, social service programs, and by looking online. The website for the U.S. Department of Justice's Office for Victims of Crime also offers a directory of crime victim services. By using the directory, victims can find the services and the help that they need following a personal crime.

  • Office of Victims Crime Help Series for Crime Victims - Assault: This resource provides readers with information about assault and where they can go for help. The article also discusses emotions and fears that assault victims may experience. A list of assistance and information resources is included at the bottom of the page.
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  • Options for Victims: The National Center for Victims of Crime offers information to victims on what they can do following a crime. The page gives advice on deciding what steps to take and seeking legal help. Readers will also find information on other potential resources such as shelters for victims of domestic abuse, counseling and support groups, and even victims compensation.
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  • Directory of Crime Victim Services: This is an online directory that allows victims of personal and other crimes to search for nonemergency assistance. To use the directory a location, type of victimization, agency, and service requested must be selected on the form.
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  • What to do if I've Been Sexually Assaulted and Where Else Can I Go For Help?: This is a section on the Office on Women's Health website that gives advice on what to do following a sexual assault. The article also provides help and support hotline numbers.

Additional Resources

  • Crime Stoppers Personal Safety: This is a list of personal safety tips designed to help people maintain personal safety against crimes. Advice is given for people who are in a car, on foot, at ATM machines, and using public transportation.
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  • Understanding Intimate Partner Violence: This factsheet discusses intimate partner violence. This is a type of personal crime that occurs between people in a relationship. This article defines the various forms of intimate partner violence and discusses how it affects one's health.
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  • Elder Abuse: Elder abuse crimes are personal crimes against older people. This MedlinePlus page provides a brief overview of elder abuse and lists its various forms.
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  • Preventing Elder Abuse by Family Caregivers: Learn more about elder abuse by caregivers. The document reviews what causes this type of personal crime against the elderly and what can be done to improve situations and prevent it.
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  • What Should I do if Someone I Know is Being Abused?: This informative article discusses what friends and family can do when they suspect a loved one is a victim of a personal crime against the elderly. The page reviews what agency to contact to report the crime and what to expect once a crime is reported.
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  • Child Safety Out and About: Use the information provided to learn about ways that children can protect themselves against being abducted and other personal crimes against children. The page is divided up into sections based on age. Readers may also click on links for tips on how to stay safe at home, on the net, and at school.
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  • Social Networking Sites - Online Friendships Can Mean Offline Peril: The FBI website discusses social networking and how it can lead to personal crimes against children, such as abduction and sexual assault from adults. The page lists ways that parents can protect their children from crimes associated with the use of social networks.
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  • Street Smarts for Busy People: The City of Albuquerque, NM reviews various ways that people can stay safe and reduce the risk of assault. Categories include staying safe in elevators at night, while working late, and going home late. Myths and facts associated with sexual assault are also discussed.
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  • Know the Rules. Abduction and Kidnapping Prevention Tips for Parents and Guardians: This resource provides not only tips on how to lower the risks of one's child being abducted, but also gives the readers statistics regarding abduction and opportunity.
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  • Personal Safety and Security: This PDF document lists safety precautions that people can take during various situations. The document also discusses what to do under the threat of an attack or when being stalked.
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  • Assault, Battery and Related Crimes: Read definitions of various personal crimes, including assault, battery, mayhem, and rape.
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  • Personal Safety - Awareness - The Key to Your Safety: This Houston Police brochure discusses breaking the crime triangle for personal safety. Readers discover what makes up the crime triangle and can read how to apply various safety measures to various aspects of their lives.
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  • Crime Prevention: Learn ways to reduce the risk of personal crimes such as child abductions and assault. Readers of the article are given tips on personal safety and tips on protecting children from crime.
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  • Preventing Sexual Assault: Facts, prevention tips and home safety tips are given in this PDF document on preventing sexual assault. This PDF document also advises the reader on what to do if attacked and if they are an actual victim of rape.
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  • Abduction and Kidnapping Prevention Tips for Parents: Advice for parents and guardians on how to decrease the risk of child abductions.