Staying safe in today’s world takes more than if you arm yourself with the best tactical folding knife made or a powerful stun gun or a pepper spray, they could prove to be more of a disaster than a deliverance. It takes more than arming yourself with defensive items, if you do not plan using a purse of the right size and accessibility and practice how you will hold yourself, how you will keep your hand free and on the defensive spray you could be worse off than if you had nothing with you at all.
Allow me to give you an example of what I mean. I had an item on layaway in a store and went to pay for it but they had not upgraded their system so my chipped VISA would not work. As a result, I had to drive to the bank and get cash from the ATM. There were a number of people from the next county and they were angry, loud, and arguing with each other. There was a younger, powerful looking black man behind me and he has started to try to talk to me. Another heavy set man was leaning over his car and had been leering since I had gotten there. There I am in this group of people holding $440 all in twenties. That is a big wad of money and was difficult for me to hide. I had an excellent tactical folding knife in my purse along with some pepper spray but forgot I had any of it. I couldn’t get back to my car fast enough and hit the door lock button and with shaking hand started the car, backed out and took off. If anyone had walked up behind me I would have knocked them down. By the time I got back to the store, I was shaking badly.
That should not have happened, in fact, I knew better. I found I had been too sure of myself, too convinced that I could handle anything. Since I have been out of the classroom, I have become lax. After several conversations with my sons I realize several things, in no specific order:
- Do NOT deal with a store that does not have an upgraded system in place as a chipped card will not work in an older system, causing the problem I had to deal with.
- Make sure the purse you carry is roomy enough that you can keep defensive equipment in an easily accessible place. Do NOT carry a small purse that is over stuffed, you will be at a disadvantage. Make sure you know how to use the defensive item. If you have a knife, do NOT pull it. Use your pepper spray or stun gun.
- When possible, do not go alone. Take a girlfriend, a group of friends, significant other or husband. Those who mean someone else ill, will target a lone individual before they will two or more people.
- Watch some video’s on YouTube about self-defense using pepper spray and then stand in front of a mirror and imitate the move until it is automatic and smooth. Continue to practice once a week or so to keep the movement fresh. (Here are some I watched: https://youtu.be/Xf5LjaE_JQ0 or https://youtu.be/GIkB9r1oe8U and https://youtu.be/pdjcF8stAgo )
- If you see a situation developing that has a potential for trouble, leave. You can purchase the item later, go to another ATM, see the movie another time. The first rule in self-defense is to diffuse and avoid.
- ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings; nearest exits, where people are, what they are wearing, how they are acting.
- Make sure you present a confident, self-assured image. Shoulders should be back, steps purposeful, meet people by looking them in the eye. As a high school teacher of special populations (mostly emotional handicapped) I have stopped many a confrontation with teenagers while teaching high school by staring them down. You are supposed to be scared; you don’t have to let anyone else know. Make them think you know something they don’t. Act like you do have that concealed weapon in your pocket or purse. If you hunch your shoulders, look at the ground, act in a timid fashion, you are inviting problems. Confidence will cause people looking to give you a problem to think twice.
- Use your voice. It should be bold, confident, and never belie any fear or concern. YOU are the one in charge, act like it. People will often back down just by seeing a take charge attitude. I don’t care if you are five foot two and ninety-eight pounds soaking wet or a five foot eight body builder, a take charge attitude and voice goes a long way. If that is not your usual demeanor, practice it.
- In a situation such as I was in on Saturday, do NOT brandish a weapon. It is uncalled for. You can probably get yourself out of it just by a confident walk, meeting people in the eye as a take charge person, and using “the voice” if you need to talk. Part of the responsibility of carrying a concealed weapon is having the common sense of when to use it and when not to. In nine situations out of ten, you will not need to pull it.
Had I done this type of preparation, I would not have panicked in the situation I faced on Saturday. When you are prepared and know what you are going to do, you are far less likely to panic and over react. The time it took me to calm down was time wasted.
So to wrap this up, it does not matter how good your defensive equipment is if you are not familiar with it. So practice using it, voice and tone are important, no weak voice, be sure to be firm, meet your confronter and stare him in his eyes, do not look away, that belies weakness. Walk with power, shoulders back, taking in your surroundings, nearest exits, where groups of people are. Be sure you select purses that allow you to have a special spot for your defensive gear and practice keeping your hand near it and shopping with one hand. Never, ever carry a weapon, even if you have a concealed carry permit, until you can develop that powerful, alert presence. A scared person is a danger to herself and those around her. It is just like anything else, practice, practice, practice.
There is no reason why you cannot go out, enjoy yourself, and have freedom of movement. In today’s world, you simply need to understand the potential for violence and prepare for it!