Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Survival and Self-Defense

Good morning,

And yes, I say good morning because this picture was taken at the airport on my return trip from North Carolina early Friday morning. When I say early, I mean this Cali girl left on an adventure to the airport at 7am, east coast time. ((I am hardly a morning person on Cali time......add in 3 hours ahead and I'm a wreck. I was the biggest insomniac when I went to school in Ohio and for the first year of me being home)).

Anyway, back to the issue at hand. ADVENTURES and, I suppose, their dangers. Who doesn't love an adventure? I swear there's a story here that's more than just having fun. It's going to be full of confidence and is the perfect example of what a WQ can do...and that is: To Survive On Her Own.

Bear with me for this story, I'll emphasize the important parts.

I'm from LA, but not downtown. Alright, I spent my formidable years in the OC bubble and have always been very protected. When I moved to Columbus my eyes were opened to something I knew of, but had never experienced. Big city. What I mean is violence, poverty, and homeless people. Columbus is the capitol of Ohio so it had some issues that made the city dangerous. Mostly dangerous at night. Through awareness I survived though, and that was something I remembered on my NC trip.

Leaving Greensboro, I had to take the train to Durham, walk a quarter mile to the bus station, and take two buses to the airport. Simple enough, right? But kind of scary when you think of all of the strangers out there (and when you suffer from an anxiety disorder).

Walking on my way, I knew that I would be okay though. Not because I lived in Columbus for two years. Not because I'm from LA. But because I was walking with a purpose. I was determined, and determined people are rarely approached by people looking for something shady. 

I took a few of the tips from "The Top Ten Things Every Woman Should Know About Personal Safety:"

1. Awareness: Your first line of defence. Most people think of kicks to the groin and blocking punches when they hear the term “self-defence.” However, true self-defence begins long before any actual physical contact. The first, and probably most important, component in self-defence is awareness: awareness of yourself, your surroundings, and your potential attacker’s likely strategies.
The criminal’s primary strategy is to use the advantage of surprise. Studies have shown that criminals are adept at choosing targets who appear to be unaware of what is going on around them. By being aware of your surroundings and by projecting a “force presence,” many altercations which are commonplace on the street can be avoided.
2. Use your sixth sense. “Sixth sense.” “Gut instinct.” Whatever you call it, your intuition is a powerful subconscious insight into situations and people. All of us, especially women, have this gift, but very few of us pay attention to it. Learn to trust this power and use it to your full advantage. Avoid a person or a situation which does not “feel” safe–you’re probably right.
4. Escape: Always your best option. What if the unthinkable happens? You are suddenly confronted by a predator who demands that you go with him–be it in a car, or into an alley, or a building. It would seem prudent to obey, but you must never leave the primary crime scene. You are far more likely to be killed or seriously injured if you go with the predator than if you run away (even if he promises not to hurt you). Run away, yell for help, throw a rock through a store or car window–do whatever you can to attract attention. And if the criminal is after your purse or other material items, throw them one way while you run the other.
5. Your right to fight. Unfortunately, no matter how diligently we practice awareness and avoidance techniques, we may find ourselves in a physical confrontation. Whether or not you have self-defence training, and no matter what your age or physical condition, it is important to understand that you CAN and SHOULD defend yourself physically. You have both the moral and legal right to do so, even if the attacker is only threatening you and hasn’t struck first. Many women worry that they will anger the attacker and get hurt worse if they defend themselves, but statistics clearly show that your odds of survival are far greater if you do fight back. Aim for the eyes first and the groin second. Remember, though, to use the element of surprise to your advantage–strike quickly, and mean business. You may only get one chance.
6. Pepper spray: Pros and cons. Pepper spray, like other self-defence aids, can be a useful tool. However, it is important to understand that there can be significant drawbacks to its use. For example, did you know that it doesn’t work on everyone? Surprisingly, 15-20% of people will not be incapacitated even by a full-face spray. Also, if you’re carrying it in your purse, you will only waste time and alert the attacker to your intentions while you fumble for it. Never depend on any self-defence tool or weapon to stop an attacker. Trust your body and your wits, which you can always depend on in the event of an attack.

I want you to know that you can have the confidence to walk in MOST places and that you should feel secure in yourself. Always, if you feel scared, ask an employee (security, or 911) to escort you. They would rather you be safe, than have to deal with the aftermath of something awful.


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