Here are 10 things women should never do if we want to stay safe, healthy and in one piece.
1. Stay with abusive partners. A man who hits you has a problem – most likely an insoluble one. Nothing you change in your behaviour is going to elicit a different response from him. Do you really feel like living the rest of your life feeling as if you're walking on eggshells? Reclaim your life, be strong, and for your own sake and that of your children, get out. No one ever deserves to be abused.
2. Have unsafe sex. No matter how overcome you are by passion, never consider having unprotected sex with someone, unless it's your partner that you know is HIV-negative. HIV is not the only STI that you can get – there are several other nasties doing the rounds.
3. Cancel medical insurance. Even if you cannot afford anything more than a basic hospital plan, carry on paying it. Nothing (except a massive gambling spree) can cripple your finances more completely than a lengthy hospital stay after a car accident or triple bypass surgery. Even if you only have hospital insurance after day three of your stay, that's fine.
4. Leave your handbag on the passenger seat. By doing this you are attracting the attention of potential smash-and-grab thieves. Put it on the floor at your feet, or in the boot of the car. Also keep your windows closed. Smash-and-grab thieves are also opportunistic criminals and will attack those who look like easy or unwary targets. The same often goes for hijackers.
5. Take drugs. This is never a good idea. Not only does it destroy your health and your relationships, but it also costs a lot of money. Everybody who starts taking drugs, thinks they have control over it – no one plans to end up dead in a public toilet. And yet, that does happen to people.
6. Drink and drive. An alarmingly high percentage of vehicle accidents involve a drunk driver or pedestrian. When you get behind your steering wheel in an intoxicated state, you not only endanger yourself, but also everyone else on the road. Stop and think for a moment how a culpable homicide conviction would change your life. Either learn to drink less, or not at all, or get someone else to drive. Or stay exactly where you are.
7. Do things for others they should be doing for themselves. You're not only doing harm to yourself by doing this, but also to them. If you do things for them they could and should be doing for themselves, you are basically passing a motion of no-confidence in the other person.
8. Eat junk food regularly. A doughnut a week won't kill you, but a doughnut a day may just. Don't get into the junk food habit. It may be convenient, but if you take into account what it does to you in the long run, there is nothing convenient about it at all.
9. Start smoking. Many smokers who are struggling to kick the habit really wish they had never started. Nicotine is a very addictive substance and once you're hooked, it's really difficult to stop. It's just so much easier never to start in the first place.
10. Leave your cellphone at home. Even if you're going to the shop on the corner, if you're by yourself, you should have it with you – and it should be loaded. Cellphones are not really social instruments, they're emergency measures. Imagine breaking down by the side of the road and not being able to contact anyone for help. Relying on the help of strangers is not the wisest thing to do.
(Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated February 2013)