Getting by in life means letting down your walls and trusting others. (Let’s face it – no one is capable of getting through life completely alone!) But that doesn’t mean that we should be reckless or foolish with our trust. When we put others in positions of power and responsibility, we put ourselves at risk unless we take the time to make sure that we’re really dealing with the sort of people that we think we are dealing with.
Have you ever heard the saying “keep your friends close, but your enemies closer?”
Tragically, experts say, it is often the people that are closest to us who are most likely to harm us. People we know — even people we love — are the ones most likely to attack, murder, kidnap, or sexually assault us. The statistics are particularly extreme for women — half of all female homicide victims are killed by their own intimate partners.
We can’t go through our lives feeling paranoid all of the time, of course — or, at least, we shouldn’t! But we also should not be naive. We need to be smart about how we approach new friends and partners because they may or may not be telling us everything that we need to know. And we need to prepare our children, too, for a world in which strangers are not the only — or even the primary — threat to their safety.
Protect yourself and your family
As an adult, you’re going to meet a lot of people and, hopefully, make a few friends. To protect yourself and your loved ones, though, you should be smart about how you interact with new people and when and to whom you allocate your trust.
When you’re meeting a new person, consider running a free background check to look for things like arrest records -– these can be run for free on sites such as GoLookUp. Government databases and publicly available information can reveal the truth about potentially dangerous people like sex offenders. As a single person, a hiring manager, or anyone else who needs to be able to trust that people are who they say they are, background checks are an essential tool.
Not all violent and dangerous people are criminals, of course (and some reformed convicts are not dangerous). You need to be aware of warning signs for things like domestic abuse, too. Protect yourself and be vigilant early — abusers of all kinds are good at trapping people and making them feel paralyzed.
Educate your children
We don’t want our children to grow up living in fear, but we do want them to understand that not everyone in the world wants the best for them. We need to protect our kids, but we need them to be able to protect themselves, too.
Experts are now warning against using the phrase “stranger danger.” Unfortunately, as we’ve already discussed above, the reality is that strangers are not the primary threat to kids. People that they know can be threatening, too, and kids need to know that “tricky people” come in all forms and from all areas of their lives.
Remind your children that they can always talk to you about tricky people, no matter how close the tricky people may seem to be. Explain to them that you understand that strangers aren’t the only people capable of bad things and that you’ll always support and believe them if they’re dealing with something upsetting.
We would like to think that the people that we care about — and who appear to care about us — will treat us right. But we need to protect ourselves in this dangerous world. A little bit of preparation and vigilance can go a long way toward allowing us to relax and enjoy our lives.