April 30, 2013

Z: No E-Z target

target

We have talked about a lot of things over the past month, but I know there is so much we didn’t even touch. If there is anything I want you to take away from this month, it is to not allow yourself to be an easy target. Learn as much as you can, make choices which will keep you safe, walk assuredly, pay attention to what’s going on around you, and know you are worthy of being protected. Don’t be an easy target out of ignorance or procrastination or politeness. Help yourself, and then as you begin to do that help others as well. Share your knowledge and information so they too can be protected.

As much as it would be nice to hand over the responsibility for our protection to someone else, it’s simply not a sane way to live. You are the only one who can help yourself at times. Learn what you can to take care of yourself and those around you so you are no longer an easy target for anyone’s convenience or opportunity.

(I know this is the last day of the A-to-Z challenge, but come back tomorrow for my wrap up! There's an important fact I need to share with you yet. Thanks friends.)

April 29, 2013

Y: Yell "FIRE!"

I am sure you remember me telling you that criminals don’t want to be noticed. They don’t want anyone to actually see them because then they can’t do what they want to do. If you are ever approached by someone whose intentions are to harm you, get the attention of other people around.

Don’t just yell, but yell “fire.” This will get people looking, because everyone wants to see what’s going on. If you just scream for help people may not come to your aide because they think they can’t help you. They don't realize their attention will make a world of difference, and in fact, if you simply yell "help" they may steer clear from where you are. Yell “fire” and people will come, and then there is attention, and now the attacker will have to make a choice. With other people watching he will most likely let you go and run off himself.

If you haven’t been grabbed yet, but you can tell the situation is unsafe, follow the same thinking. Move yourself back into the store, or near other people. Just being near other peopla will keep the attacker from attacking in most cases.

Honestly, regardless of what you yell, yell, scream, throw a fit, make a scene. Yell at them before their hands get on you, before they get near enough to touch you yell, "Leave me alone!" If you see someone nearby yell at them personally. "Hey you in the red hat! Call 911!!!" Don't be afraid to tell someone to leave you alone, let people know you do in fact need help, or dial 911 when you find yourself in a threatening situation. After all, the worst that can happen is you get embarrassed, but trust your instinct and bring people into it getting attention which the attacker does not want.

April 25, 2013

W: Weapons

There are many different opinions regarding carrying a weapon to defend yourself. Opinions are one thing, laws are another. If you decide to carry any sort of weapon, even pepper spray, please check the laws in your area and make sure it is legal to do so. In some states you may be breaking the law yourself by carrying the item, much less using it. Yes, even pepper spray. As much as I don't agree with the government taking away my ability to defend myself, it happens and so you we must be aware so we can make an intelligent decision.

When choosing what kind of weapon you want to carry I must say this first: carry nothing you are not sure you can use, otherwise it can be used against you. Some of the different types of weapons available are pepper spray (police grade perferable), pepper foggers, pepper foam, Tasers, edged weapons, stun guns, and firearms. All of these have pros and cons which need to be seriously weighed before carrying. All experts will have their choice of weapon and prefer some over others. You need to be aware of all of this in order to make the best decision for you.

Choosing to carry a weapon is a serious decision which should not be taken lightly. If you decide to do so my suggestion would be to get as much training using that weapon as possible. There is even a correct way to hold a knife while trying to defend yourself, and you should know things like this in order to use the weapon wisely. I will not give any advice on how to use any of these weapons, because I firmly believe information and instruction should come in a class or one on one setting from a professional.

If you choose not to carry a formal weapon be aware there are other things you can use. Sometimes we carry items we don't realize we can use as weapons: high heels, purses, keys, lollipops, and pens. Both of these last two, lollipops and pens, would be used in the same way pushing the straight point into a soft spot on the attacker.

Most importantly, get instruction, get technigue taught to you, and get used to using whatever you decide to use. Ignorantly carrying any type of weapon is only going to get you hurt.


V: Violent Indications

There are times we cross paths with someone who is not the ordinary criminal. This person is more like the monsters you hear told about in the mass murder stories. The psychopath you never want to meet, much less be on the radar of. In The Gift of Fear, Gavin DeBecker lists behaviors of a psychopath, and I felt it was important you were familiar with some of these. I pray you never meet someone who fits these qualities, but if you do I don’t want you to be unaware.
A psychopath: operates without a conscience; is glib and superficial; is egocentric and grandiose; lacks remorse or guilt; is deceitful and manipulative; behaves impulsively; is in need of excitement; lacks responsibility; and is emotionally shallow.
Pick his book up for a better explanation and more details to be wary of. Again, just because someone has one of these traits does not necessarily make them a psychopath, but these characteristics are definitely owned by psychopaths. Please, be safe not sorry.

April 24, 2013

U: "U" are worthy.

Imagine with me: You are walking down the street and someone jumps out from behind a car and grabs you from behind. He whispers in your ear that if you simply do what he says he will let you go once he’s done. What do you do?

Now, imagine you have a young child with you. Imagine he grabs the child and says if you just stay quiet he will return the child once he is done. What do you do now?

littles

Too often our response is not the same in these two scenarios, but they should be. I know you. You would fight tooth and nail for that child, whether they were yours or not. You would hit, claw, scream, and keep anything from happening to them if at all possible. But too often, we fall into the freeze category when it is something that threatens us.

This is what I want you to know, and I am desperate to get you to understand this: you are worthy. You are worthy of being saved, of fighting for yourself, of not being attacked. I want you to know it is okay to fight just as hard for yourself as you would for someone else you love. I want you to know without a doubt you are worth the fight. Because you are.

And sometimes we are on our own, and those who would fight for us can’t. This is why you must know how to defend yourself, and be willing to defend yourself if the situation arises where you need to. You are worthy of being fought for.

April 22, 2013

S: Strikes (how & where)

I waited to talk about actual physical self-defense until this time for a reason. My instructor tells us one of the best defenses is the “don’t be there” move. It is so much better to avoid a situation than have to defend yourself. If your security system and the actions you take to stay safe keep you safe, then you have won the battle. But sometimes we do get into a place where we need to defend ourselves. Let me first say, the best choice is to learn this information from an instructor in a safe place where you can learn and practice. These are just a few things you should know, regardless of skill level.

The best places to strike: soft spots: temple, eyes, nose, ears, side of neck, throat, groin, knees, feet
The best ways to strike: knee (to the head or groin), palm strike to the nose, fingers to the eyes, elbow to the head

For example, if someone grabs you by the throat, and you are facing each other both his adams apple and groin are exposed, and both of his hands are preoccupied. A knee to the groin will double him over. At this point you can slam your knee into his head, and he will be on the ground and you can get away. Or, take your fingers and push them into his adams apple. Damaging his windpipe will force him to let go of you and you can get away.

wrist
If the attacker grabs you by the wrist, this is what I want you to remember: you cannot pull your hand out of his. It’s nearly impossible, and if you try he will simply drag you off. However, this does not mean you are helpless. The weakest point on his grip is where his thumb is located. Grab your hand he is holding with your other hand, and now pull your hand towards his thumb. He will release the grip, and you can get away.

Remember, the goal is to get away and get somewhere safe. You do not always need to harm the attacker in order to do this, but if you need to do it then you need to know how to do it. This is where a class and instructor becomes important, as well as becoming familiar with the techniques and practicing them often.

If you want to see how these techniques are done and have yet to find a class where an instructor can teach you, go to youtube and search women’s self-defense. Tons of videos will come up, and some may not agree with each other, but all want to help you learn how to defend yourself. One of our black belts in class has also suggested going to youtube and searching street fight to see how people actually attack one another. I, personally, have not been able to bring myself to watch recorded street fights, but it may help you out. You can also get videos from the library under self-defense and martial arts.

April 20, 2013

R: Repetition

Very little can be learned the first time through and very few of us know all we need to know without some type of repetition. Whether it is picking the book up for the third time to gain more knowledge, or practicing the self-defense moves over and over until they are second nature, repetition is your friend.

I can’t stress this enough, because you can’t do something you don’t know, but the better you know something the more natural it feels. Habits are things we do in life to which we give little thought. In order to have these actions you are taking and changes you are making become habits, you need to repeat them over and over. Keep doing what needs to be done.

Reassess your situation on a quarterly basis to see what changes need to be made. Think about how you can make your life safer, and continue to do the things which will bring about the results you are wanting. Don’t do it once and think you know it. Don’t read it once and think you are done. The book list I shared was not extensive, but the material in each book was broad and covered so much information. I would be silly to think I know everything that was shared, and I would not be choosing wisely if I thought my security was taken care of at one time.

Our safety is a lifetime of learning and changing and growing so we can continually be safe regardless of our stage of life or what our daily schedule looks like. Repetition is a very important factor in keeping yourself safe.

April 19, 2013

Q: Questions to Ask Yourself

I’ve given you some challenges, and asked you to do your own research, but now I want you to ask yourself some questions. Along the line of knowing your predator, there are things which seem obvious so we don’t give a lot of thought to but if we did we would be safer. In Predators Gregory Cooper and Michael King give several lists which help you see things from a predator’s point of view. A few of these questions are:

question Do I keep my doors and windows locked?
Do I have a dog, alarm, or something that would make noise should an intruder attempt to enter my house?
Do I keep a phone near or on my person at all times?
Do I give the appearance that more than one person lives in my home, regardless of the truth?
Do I rearrange my schedule to make it difficult for a potential attacker to scout me?
Does my car door automatically lock, and when?

Some questions I have learned to answer the hard way:

Am I too trusting of strangers?
Is my willingness to help going to put me in jeopardy?
Am I careful where I park at stores?
Does my dislike of being rude give someone the upper hand?



I’m sure you can come up with some questions of your own which would help you look at your safety factors better. I challenge you not only to answer these questions, but take action if the answers show a weak point in your defense systems.

April 18, 2013

P: Predators

The book Predators, by Gregory Cooper and Michael King, was fabulous in understanding the mind of the attacker. You may wonder why this is important, but understanding the predator helps you to protect yourself better. Like my friend who tried to help the man on the corner, if you know people will use your heart to take advantage of you then you will be more careful when you try to help someone.

In The Gift of Fear, Gavin DeBecker also addresses several clues to watch for which he calls “survival signals.” From “forced teaming” to “discounting the word no” he gives examples of how a criminal will use the technique, help you see it as a signal for yourself, and give you techniques to confront or fight in order to keep you safe.

The fact of the matter is we expect criminals to look like bad people. We want them to be dirty, grungy, look evil, and have an aura that exposes them before they ever get close. We want them to stay in certain areas of the city so we can avoid them, and so that we can be safe. But none of this is true. Mr. DeBecker said that only 20% of homicides are committed by strangers, and too often the people who commit crimes look and act just like us, but they don’t think like we do. This is why it is important to understand the mind of a predator, in order to defend yourself in the best possible way.

April 17, 2013

O: Opportunities

There is no denying there are situations where a person has been stalked or chosen for a certain reason, but more often than not criminals choose their victims by pure opportunity. This is why doing the small things like locking doors is so important. You don’t want to "open a door" and give an attacker an opportunity he shouldn’t have.

opportunity

While it makes crime seem more random, it really isn’t. Just as a stalker gets to know his victim over a long period of time, criminals can get to know you very quickly as well. They are reading our body language just like I suggested you read theirs. They know who is off, feeling weak, distracted, or vulnerable. What you want to do is leave little room for anyone to take advantage of you, and you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you aren’t in control. These are the opportunities criminals are looking for.

April 16, 2013

You are giving power to the one you allow to define you.

I read a meme the other day that spoke about how a woman doesn't know she is beautiful until a man tells her she is. It broke my heart a little bit.

 photo what others think of us.jpg

April 15, 2013

M: Make Changes

So far we have talked about a few small things you can do to be proactive in taking care of yourself, but you have to decide to actually do it now. Just knowing this information will not help you any. Don’t procrastinate and wish you had taken steps to be safer. Don’t think there will be plenty of time. Most of what has been discussed are small changes which make a big impact.

I challenge you to start a new habit today which will make you immediately safer. Whether it is locking your doors, not talking on your phone when you are walking, or picking up a book from the library to gain more information, choose to do something that will make a difference. If you have the ability to take a class, do so. If there is someone you can learn more from, start learning. It’s far too easy and simple to begin taking control of your self-defense for you not to do it.

What are you going to do?

April 13, 2013

L: Lock Your Doors

lockWhen we lived in North Dakota we lived with a high sense of security. Whether it was false or not, I don’t know, but at this point I do know we put ourselves in danger had anyone wanted to take advantage of us. We rarely locked the doors in our house or car as we went about our days. Let me share two stories friends have shared with me to help you understand how important the simple act of locking your doors can be.

Her son was home alone while she went to run an errand. There were a few houses for sale in the neighborhood, so unfamiliar people were common and not looked at twice. When she got the phone call from him she could hear the panic in his voice. Apparently someone who had been looking at the house next door tried to get into her house. They rang the door bell, knocked on the door, and tried the door knob several times before they finally left. Had they left the front door unlocked these people would have walked in. Were they unsuspecting people simply looking for a house to buy and got mixed up on which houses were for sale? Maybe. Were they someone taking advantage of the homes for sale knowing no one was paying attention to strangers in the area? Possibly.

She was driving down the street when she hit the stop light. The older gentlemen was asking for handouts and her heart went out to him. He looked so frail as he made her way up to the car. Trying to be careful she only opened her window a little bit to hand him the money, but before she knew what was going on he was trying to open the car door. He was no frail man, but rather someone trying to take advantage of her good will and soft heart. Thankfully she was able to pull the door closed and take off before he was able to take more action. What were his intentions? Thankfully we don’t know.

It’s a simple act, but lock your doors and keep yourself safer.

April 12, 2013

K: Keep Your Eyes Open

In light of doing what you can, one of the most important things you can do is keep your eyes open and be observant of what is going on. Too often we walk around distracted by our phones, children, lists, or thoughts. We need to make sure we know what is going on around us, and we can’t do that if our concerns are elsewhere.

Was that person in his car next to yours when you went into the store? How long has the car behind you been behind you? Could you tell me what the person you just spoke to looked like if you needed to recognize them again?

It’s not that we all need to turn into the characters on Psych or Mentalist, but being more observant is so important to our safety. Pay attention to where you are going, who is around you, and what they are doing. Most criminals don’t want to be noticed, so notice them.

April 11, 2013

J: Just do what you can

In order to protect ourselves we don’t have to put out lots of money nor become a black belt in martial arts. Most of us don’t have that type of money to put new locks on all the doors and window braces through-out the house. Also, you need to be able to do something now, and not wait for the time it will take to reach your black belt. Not that these aren’t both awesome goals, but you need to start doing something right now to protect yourself.

start




Too often we have an all or nothing mentality. We think we have to go all out, and if we can’t then we don’t do anything. Or we get bothered by the nuisance of doing things and just quit. I promise you there are small steps you can take to protect yourself that will make a big difference.

Such things as:
  • hold your child’s hand when walking
  • don’t talk on the phone going through a parking lot
  • look people in the eye when you pass them
  • don't sit in the parking lot with your windows rolled down while you are on your phone
  • don't leave your windows open all night
  • leave your outside house lights on at night
  • vary your schedule so you aren't predictable
  • don't run with earphones in and the music so loud you can't hear someone coming up from behind
The goal is to do what you can to keep yourself safer now.

April 10, 2013

I: Ignore the Idiots

In light of learning what is going on in your city, you make begin to question how smart it is to leave the house. You may start to see danger everywhere. You may start to manufacture fear where it is not truly needed. This is when you have to take a step back.

After my non-incident I was fearful to return to the store where it happened, and I was fearful to leave the house on my own. It didn’t take me long to figure out I couldn’t truly live this way. I had to go and run errands, and we have to go to work or visit friends and family, and we have to take risks every day. The important step is to evaluate the risk so that you live smart.

When you cross the street you don’t simply cross without looking, and neither can you always wait until the street is absolutely empty. You have to find a balance in order to move forward. The same is in life. There will be idiots in our life who want us to think they could be a danger, but they aren’t. We have to learn who is an idiot spewing threats, and who is not.

And I don’t mean individuals, but situations. The murder that happened two blocks over is an “idiot” if the situation was personal to the people involved. Nothing you can do will make you vulnerable to the murderer in this situation, unless you know them personally. But if someone broke into your neighbor’s garage during the day, that’s not an idiot because it leaves you vulnerable. In that situation you are going to make sure your doors are always locked and the garage door is closed.

Think of the stereotype of the construction worker cat-calling every girl who walks by. Is it annoying? Yes. Is it frustrating? You bet. Do you wish they would stop? I would. But are they truly a danger to you and those who walk by? No, not really. There are situations that happen which are like cat-calls to get your attention, but don’t truly pose any threat. Ignore those idiots and pay attention to the situations where you are really in danger.

April 9, 2013

H: Here?

We like to believe we live in a world of rainbows and gumdrops. We don’t want to face the fact crime and violence happen where we live. But it does. Many people think ignorance is bliss, but in reality ignorance only makes you vulnerable. Here are some questions to ask yourself, which may require a little research, but will go a long way to making you aware of what is going on in your community.

ignorance
  • How many sexual offenders live in your city?
  • How many break-ins have occurred in your neighborhood?
  • How many rapes have happened in your area?
  • How many murders, burglaries, or thefts have happened around where you live and work?
The idea is not to try to find an area where nothing happens, because that is impossible. The point is to make yourself aware of what is going on, so that you can make decisions based on facts.

If you are looking for a good place to begin answering these questions check out City Data.

April 8, 2013

G: Guts

No, today I am not going to talk about having the guts to defend yourself. You already have that and simply need to learn you have it. What I want to talk about rather is when your gut talks to you, also known as intuition.

So often in this culture we ignore the warning our own body gives us. How do I know this to be true? Let me ask you a question: how often have you said, “If only I had listened to myself?” Our intuition is a physical response to situations we don’t always consciously perceive. When we get that nudge to drive around the block to make sure the garage door closed, when we feel the hairs on the back of our necks rise and we turn and make eye contact with someone who is walking behind us, when we think about a friend and call only to find out they are having a hard day: these are all examples of our intuition at work.

It is so important to learn to listen to your intuition. Intuition is a real fear within your body which sets off alarms. Real fear is not anxiety, worry, phobias, or simple concern. These have a tendency to be fear we manufacture. You have to learn to release those so you can hear your body when real fear rises. Real fear will make you aware to a situation that is going on, help you through a circumstance, and save your life.

Learn to listen to your intuition when fear sets the alarms off. Don’t wish you had.

April 6, 2013

F: Fight, Flight, or Freeze

Often when we find ourselves in a situation where we are being attacked we have a choice of responses. Most people think the basic two responses are fight or flight, and this is often true. But many times when faced with a dangerous individual and we are not prepared our instinct is to simply freeze. This happens because we panic, and in a dangerous situation the last thing you want to do is panic.

panic
If you have learned techniques, planned ways to be proactive, and thought about scenarios you may fall into, then you are going to be less likely to panic when a situation happens, so you won’t freeze. If someone wants to take your wallet or jewelry they very well may leave once you have given it to them, but sometimes it’s simply not so simple. This is why the practice of different self-defense moves and ways of thinking is so important. When you repeat a move over and over it becomes second nature.

When I am in class and someone grabs me by the throat I know I am not in danger, but I also know the steps to help myself get out of that situation. The more we practice the better we get. This is important because it will help us not freeze in a situation, but stay alert to what is going on, and pay attention to the situation we are in.

Sometimes we have to fight our way out, and sometimes we can run, but seldom should we simply freeze and panicking should be out of the question. Learn what you need to so you can know what needs to be done when you have to protect yourself.

April 5, 2013

E: Exceptions

As we begin to go through this information you need to keep in mind there will always be an exception. As my taekwondo instructor says, "There will always be someone bigger, stronger, and faster than you." No matter what we learn we can still fall prey to a sick minded individual. No matter the precautions we take, someone may still be able to take advantage of us. No matter how hard we work to shore ourselves up emotionally, mentally, and physically we have days where we are weaker than others.

Do not attack yourself when these things happen. The fault is the heart of the attacker not you. You are the victim when this happens, and there is no blame to be placed anywhere near you. No matter the situation you were in, the choices you made, or what you did or did not do: the only one who is guilty is the attacker. It goes back to choice.

But this doesn’t mean we don’t do anything. We want to learn and grow as much as we can so that we can hope to avoid these situations and people. You are a blessed creature created by a loving God who wants the best for you. Let’s do what we can to work with Him rather than those who wish to harm us.

April 4, 2013

D: Desperation

One thing I have become so very aware of is sometimes we allow ourselves to be in dangerous situations because we become desperate. We are desperate for someone to approve of us, love us, or need us, and so we go to help, give, and love even in situations where we shouldn’t.

When my non-incident occurred I learned that there are times I cannot help people because it will jeopardize my safety. Each and every situation needs to be handled on its own merits and circumstances. Knowing how to read people, watching for things which are unusual, and keeping our eyes open all help us to be careful. Bad people will prey on those who want to help. Bad people will use our politeness against us. Bad people have no problem not being honest, so you must be wary. Being desperate to please keeps us from being aware. We also close our eyes when we are desperate for love or attention. When the teen girl gets attention from the older man, too often they see it as their way of feeling attractive, not that they are in a dangerous place with a dangerous person.

The problem is we often don’t know we are desperate for love and attention. We need to watch our own behavior as closely as we do others. Are we keeping secrets from others around us about someone? Are we sneaking around, and getting friends to help us? Are we willing to do anything, even when the other person asks the impossible from us? Then we are probably behaving in a desperate manner not keeping our mind, heart, or eyes open to what the truth is.

When you find yourself behaving in such a way you need to remember the truth about who you are, and who really loves you. You need to remember the truth about what love, acceptance, and attention really should be about.

If you have someone in your life who you think is in danger of falling into a desperate way of thinking then I want to encourage you to pour into that person’s life. Show them the love of God in such a way there is no denying His power. Teach them that real love does not put expectations on you, nor does it ask you to keep it a secret.

April 3, 2013

Have different levels for different people in your life.

Relationships have not always been easy for me. I want to be friends with everyone I know, making them feel special, included, loved, and seen. But in this time of the internet where we are connected with a bazillion people this is almost impossible. Even face to face, I used to jump into relationships as if everyone would be the most intimate kindred friend upon meeting. I would speak too much, over share, and try to bond in a way I am sure was most uncomfortable. Bringing just anyone into the deepest recesses of my life was not fair to any of us.

 photo different levels of relationships.jpg

April 2, 2013

B: Books and Resources

The information I am sharing over these next few weeks came from a limited number of books and people. One thing you will learn after reading more than one book by more than one author is they don’t always agree. Their perspective is based off of their experience, as yours will be too. Do not hold the “expert” too high on a pedestal. Do take in all the information you can from as many people as you can. This will be the best way to form a defense system which works for you. The list below includes the books I used, but your library has several more books and videos which you may find interesting.

a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do: the ultimate guide to living safe and smart by Kathleen Baty
See Sally Kick Ass by Fred Vogt
The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker
Crime Signals by David Givens
Predators by Gregory Cooper and Michael King

You most likely will find self-defense classes in your area. My library held a free one I attended which was taught by a gentleman who had been with the police force for many years. Call the local community center or library to find out if they offer such a thing, and to let them know you would be interested in attending a class. Sometimes we simply need to give them the idea and they will run with it. My church has begun holding free classes, and I am sure there are others who do the same as well. Call around to see what is available. You may even decide to join a martial arts class in order to pick up some self-defense. Before you pick a school ask questions about the self-defense they teach. Find one that suits what you are looking for, and fits your temperament and personality. If you are in the local area and over eight, please feel free to drop in at KICS Karate School where you will learn both the martial art, and self-defense techniques to assist you.

Remember, the goal is to get as much information from as many people as possible. Don’t limit your ability to protect yourself by not having information when it is within your reach to have.

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