Violence against women is a real issue for our community, especially violence against transgender women, with numerous assaults and homicides occurring on the streets, in, or near motor vehicles. Now, expert Scott Bonvissuto has some advice that could help save lives in the current LGBTQ state of emergency.
The freedom of mobility is an essential aspect of modern life, yet it is accompanied by the unfortunate reality of violence for many people. According to the World Bank, nearly one-third of women, and approximately 50% of transgender women, have experienced some form of intimate partner or non-partner physical or sexual violence. Similarly, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) in the United States reported that LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender women of color, face disproportionately high rates of hate-motivated violence. The rate of violence against transgender women has maintained a steady climb in the last decade, with many transgender women expecting that they will come across a violent interaction at some point in their lives.
Vehicles can be a source of concern with regard to violent interactions, as it’s all too common for a woman to become trapped inside a vehicle with a violent intimate partner or non-partner violent individual. Incidents of violent attacks during carjackings, or even sharing a ride with an intimate partner regularly make headlines.
Whether in a rideshare, public transport, or in their own vehicles, many women are aware that they are more susceptible to violence involving a vehicle. Yet, the onus is largely on women to protect themselves and have situational awareness, especially when they are driving alone or getting into a stranger’s vehicle. This highlights the urgent need for strategies that empower individuals to protect themselves.
Given the rise in violence against women and transgender women, in particular, there has also been a significant rise in the number of cisgender and transgender women who carry firearms. A recent Gallup poll found that 22% of women carry guns, and between 2005 and 2020 there was a staggering 77% rise in female gun ownership, with most opting to carry for self-protection purposes.
As for transgender women, there has been a rising tide of trans women who have begun to take their protection into their own hands. Given the stark lack of response to what many view as systemic violence against the trans community, there has been a rise in trans women who now carry guns. Many see gun ownership as equalizing the playing field, and giving them some added peace of mind, especially when put in a vulnerable position such as the confinement of a vehicle.
Scott Bonvisutto, founder and President of Console Vault, has watched the demand for in-vehicle gun storage rise since founding his company. Aware that gun safety and safe storage isn’t just needed in the home, Console Vault has devised a way to safely and discreetly store a weapon in one’s vehicle.
“I am always about helping people, and with our product, we provide peace of mind,” says Bonvisutto. He is passionate about vehicular safety, especially when it comes to having a weapon on hand.
The rise in violence against women and trans women has left them more on edge when traveling alone or when in a vehicle with someone who may be looking to cause them harm. Women have always been taught to be on alert, especially on public transport and in places like parking garages. While suggestions of remaining alert still ring true, there are other ways cisgender and transgender women can protect themselves amid rising rates of violence.
Here are some tips:
- Be aware of your surroundings, including where you park. “If you are not paying attention, you become an easy target,” offers Bonvissuto. “Today, so many people drive without noticing many things around them.”
- Always lock your car doors and look in your backseat before getting in.
- Keep your phone with you and fully charged.
- Keep valuables locked away and hidden.
- Never pull over for someone signaling you.
- Have situational awareness of how you can quickly exit a vehicle if necessary.
- If you feel it necessary to carry a weapon, get training in order to learn how to properly use it and store it safely.
Preventing violence begins with fostering awareness and allyship. “Resources and safe spaces are important tools of empowerment. Organizations such as A Girl and A Gun offer female-centric self-defense and firearm safety training”, Bonvissuto says.
The car can be a source of freedom and adventure for many, but it can also put many in a vulnerable position with little recourse. “Being in a vehicle is akin to being cornered, and in those cases,” Bonvissuto offers, “women should be prepared to defend themselves. By being aware of the dangers for cisgender and transgender women in vehicles, we can start to advocate for safer actions and environments, saving lives in the process.”
About the expert
Since Scott Bonvissuto founded Console Vault®, The Original In-Vehicle Safe in 2002, his leadership has allowed his company to grow into one of the most successful businesses in everyday automobile protection and theft prevention. For over 20 years, Console Vault’s innovative product line of In-Vehicle Safes has allowed owners of cars, motorcycles, and trucks from some of the most reputable manufacturers in the industry to add an extra layer of protection to their vehicles.