Self-defense tools can be your hands, a set of keys, pepper spray or a big can of tomatoes. The most important thing, regardless of which tool you have, is to have the mind set to use it! Practice this mindset several times a day. I have a mantra, “Touch me you die.” I say this to myself as I walk through parking lots or if I pass someone while running alone. It may sound funny, but it helps me prepare myself in case I am attacked. Pick a mantra for yourself and see yourself striking the person, kicking them, scratching their eyes out, whatever visualization you need. If this sounds graphic and disturbing, it is! Women are raised to be nice, polite and to make people feel comfortable and at ease. I am asking you to do the opposite and literally see yourself hurting someone. An attacker has a plan, so should you.
Here are some tools you need:
Small, folding knife
This can be stored in your car, on your keychain, or wherever it is convenient for you. Please be careful with small children and keep all dangerous items away from them. Even a tiny key chain knife can do an incredible amount of damage to an attacker in a short amount of time and give you the chance to get away. All you need is the tool and the mindset to use it should it become necessary. If you don’t have a knife, place your car keys firmly in your palm with the keys facing outward. A can of pepper spray is a great weapon that is readily available, but if you have never tested it, you should. You need to know how far it sprays and when it expires. Pepper spray can also be a problem for you if the wind is blowing.
Flashlight and Blanket
I keep a wind-up (doesn’t need batteries) flashlight and blanket in my mini-van in case I have car trouble and become stranded at night. This sounds a bit extreme, I know. I attended a self-defense workshop 18 years ago and have never forgotten the lessons I learned. The speaker was Sanford Strong (a retired San Diego police officer who teaches officer and civilian survival). He outlined the importance of getting out of your car if you are broken down. Sitting in a locked car waiting for help is a death sentence. There are serial killers and rapists who look for victims along highways and city streets. If they approach your car, you can not escape, run or fight easily. In Strong on Defense, page 129, he outlines 3 choices if you have car trouble: 1.) Leaving your car: If you see an open business, walk to it and wait for help. 2.) Stay Near Your Car but in Sight: “In the daytime on a busy highway, this choice makes sense…reduce your chances of being injured by rear-end collision.” 3.) Stay Near your car but out of sight: He describes hiding in the bushes by the highway and watching two “highway hunters” approach your car and steal your belongings. “(It)…seems extreme, but being stranded late at night on a sparsely traveled highway leaves you extremely vulnerable.” So deciding which choice is best for you depends on your circumstances. I have thought about this a lot with the addition of my children being in the car. I know my kids won’t be good at hiding in the bushes and I really don’t want them there so I keep my cell phone charged so I can:
- 1. Call for roadside assistance.
- 2. Call my husband.
- 3. Call any friends who might be able to come and help me.
- 4. Safety over Money: I also don’t care if I ruin a tire that only had a puncture by limping down the shoulder until I find a well lit, populated place to get it fixed. A few extra bucks is more than worth my safety and piece of mind.
An even better idea is not to be on a deserted highway at night. It just takes a little planning about where you are, where you want to be and what time you must leave to get there by driving on highways that are not deserted. I implore you to think about what is expendable and what is necessary. For me, my safety and the safety of my family is necessary and just about everything else is expendable. So that last cup of coffee when I’m visiting a friend who lives close enough to make day trips but too far to be home quickly has got to go. If its just me and the kids then we leave the beach or the amusement park a little earlier and get home while there are still plenty of people on the roads. With just a little bit of planning we drastically increase our chances of getting home safely.
Write your insurance company name, insurance policy number and make/model of your car on a small 3X5 card. Store it in your car. After an accident, you will be frazzled and nervous. You can hand the card to the other driver instead of fumbling around trying to gather the information. After an accident, call your own insurance company and give them the information the other driver gave you. If you don’t feel comfortable with the person who ran into you, stay in your car and tell them, “I’m afraid. Can we go to another location to exchange information?” Most honorable men will understand and will follow you. If they do not agree, hit the gas and leave or stay in your car and call the police. Please keep in mind, it is just some property damage to your car so remember to decide what is necessary and what is expendable. The police won’t arrest you for hit and run if you call them and tell them you were scared of the other driver but would be happy to exchange information.
What will you do if someone is following you? I change my route if I see the same car or the same headlights behind me more than a few turns when I’m driving home. It is really hard to tell if someone is following you for any distance, so I start to pay attention as I get close to home. If a car makes the same few last turns I make, I won’t go home. I’ll drive right back out of my neighborhood and get on my phone with the police. Get into the habit of noticing the cars behind you as you get to those last few turns before you get where you’re going. Sanford Strong discusses a serial rapist and murderer who watched women workout, followed them home, then left. The next day, he would watch for them at the gym during the same hour. He would drive to their house and wait for them to return home. He stalked and followed seventeen women home and murdered six. If you think someone is following you, drive to a well-lit, populated location like a store, restaurant or, ideally, the police station.
Within your plan, make the decision to fight an attacker. Do not bargain with him or think to yourself, “I’ll just go along with what he says and he’ll let me go.” Remember he is probably experienced and wants to move you to another location away from the public’s eye. Once you are at this secondary location (car, house, bushes next to the walking path, alley, behind a dumpster), your chances of escape or survival are limited. Think of it this way, if the attacker just wanted to steal your purse, why does he want to move you? Scream, fight and get away!
The bottom line is this: BE PREPARED AND GET TOUGH GIRLFRIENDS!
I hope I have given you some useful “tools” to protect yourself. Lindsay and Mary will be writing more on self-defense, so stay tuned!