Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Nice Guy, or a Good Guy?

man-male-happy-face-guy-portrait-198949My friend was talking about a man who had stalked, restrained and physically attacked a woman we knew when she said, “But he’s basically a good guy.”  Shocked, I clarified:  “No, he’s a nice guy.  Definitely not a good guy.”

A nice guy, or a good guy?

We both knew this person.  He had been a guest in both of our homes.  He was attractive, charming, likable and a great conversationalist, making him very pleasant company.  However, beneath the surface, his niceness paled in comparison to his aggression, threatening behavior and willingness to put others at risk.

Yes, we all have bad days. We all have triggers that can cause us to behave unlike our better selves.  But someone who deliberately intimidates, terrorizes or attacks another person?  That’s not a good person.

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6 Reasons Parking Garages Are Scary

img_7976More people have asked me about parking garage safety than any other topic.  For several reasons, these structures especially strike fear into the hearts of women.  Parking garages are actually a convenience, as well as a land-conservation device, intended to protect users and their cars from the elements and avoid having to walk across acres of open parking lots.

So why are parking garages scary?  Primarily because of our imaginations and what we’ve seen on TV and at the movies.  Here are the top reasons given to me over the past 15 years:

They’re dark.  True, most parking structures aren’t lit up like the midway of a state fair, but that isn’t inherently dangerous.  Combat the darkness and give yourself a landmark by parking under or near a light, and carry a small flashlight in your pocket, purse, or on a keychain in case of power failure.

You can’t see people coming.  I interpret this to mean both people on foot and in vehicles.  Due to the nature of parking garage design, there are blind curves, lots of vehicles, intermittent activity and traffic, and people not paying attention.

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Can a Book Save Your Life?

The Gift of Fear - self-defense“This book can save your life.”  Although that’s what the cover of my favorite book asserts, I disagree.  Neither this book nor any other book can prevent you from being assaulted, attacked or killed.  What it CAN do – and the reason it is my unequivocal favorite self-defense book – is cause you to think differently, make more informed choices, increase your situational awareness, and ultimately reduce your chance of being in a life-threatening situation.

The Gift of Fear, by Gavin De Becker, is a must-read for women of all ages, as well as anyone who is interested in increasing his or her safety and awareness.  De Becker’s unique claim that “fear is a gift” is proven true repeatedly throughout the book.

Why should YOU read The Gift of Fear?  Here are my top 10 reasons: Continue reading

pepper-spray-hot-topic

Pepper Spray:  a Very Hot Topic!

During my self defense seminars, someone invariably asks for my recommendations regarding Mace/pepper spray.  My unequivocal recommendation is this:  pepper spray is great, if you HAVE it and CAN USE it when you NEED it.

If you’re going to buy pepper spray and let it roll around in the bottom of your purse for 6 years, don’t bother.  If you get a keychain canister, but don’t carry it because it’s big and inconvenient, forget it.  If you go for a run but have your pepper spray zipped up in a pocket or otherwise stashed out of reach…you get the point.

Some common objections:

 “I don’t know what kind to get.”  True, you have a lot of options.  There are large canisters, which are more often used by law enforcement, or to deter animal attacks.  Keychain canisters are much smaller and more convenient for carrying on a regular basis.  Some have breakaway clips so that, for example, if your key is in your car’s ignition, you can quickly and easily disengage the pepper spray without turning off your vehicle.  Pepper spray is available with a belt clip as well.  There are pepper spray containers that look exactly like a tube of lipstick, if you’re self-conscious about carrying it or need a very compact size.  Some canisters offer a retractable cord so you can attach a clip or button to a purse or pocket and easily find and deploy the pepper spray if needed.  Consider how you’ll be carrying it and how you want to deploy it in a self defense situation.  Do you want something with a “safety” on it?  A button on top you can easily depress?  A switch you can slide forward?  The bottom line:  Get something that YOU are comfortable carrying and using.

“I don’t want people to think I’m paranoid.”  I get that.  A potential rapist or abductor doesn’t want you to think about fighting back, either.  Pepper spray and other personal defense items exist for your personal defense.  Carry them when appropriate (not in the airport, please), when you’re prepared to use them (test-fire, anyone?), and don’t let social pressures sway you.  Better safe than sorry!

 “I don’t know how to use it.”  Well…pepper spray is very affordable, and available at almost any sporting good store.  Buy one or more items to test fire.  OUTDOORS, PEOPLE.   It is important that you know whether it sprays, streams or shoots a gel…and what the range is.  If you already own pepper spray but haven’t test-fired it, do yourself a favor and clean the nozzle before doing so.  If the nozzle is blocked, you’ll get to “enjoy” the blowback when you test-fire it.

Like any item with propellant (hairspray, sunscreen, WD-40), it has a shelf life and an expiration date.  The pepper spray you bought 10 years ago?  Please replace it…you wouldn’t trust a can of corn that was a decade old, so don’t trust out-of-date pepper spray either.  It’s a small investment that can pay off big time.

My longtime friend Janis Tanksley is president of Defense Angel LLC.  I recommend their products;  they offer four kinds of personal defense sprays.  Check them out here!

What are YOU willing to die for?

I ask every student, whether in a private lesson, a Taekwon-Do class or a large self defense seminar:  “Make a list of all of the things you are willing to die for.”  Five seconds later, I ask if they need more time to make their list.  No one ever does.  In all of the years I’ve asked this question, I have received only three different responses:

  • Family, loved ones, friends (sometimes including beloved family pets)
  • God, Jesus, my faith, my beliefs, my church
  • Patriotism and love of country

The next obvious question:  Why would you risk injury or death to keep someone from taking your purse, your wallet, or even your car?  Why would you put yourself at risk to avoid offending a stranger, to keep from appearing rude, or to gain the approval of someone who clearly does not have your best interest in mind?

If someone tries to take your purse or wallet, use your best judgment.  Don’t risk your life to save your “stuff.”  Is your assailant armed? Are there multiple assailants?  Is help available?  If you’re going to give up the item, toss it away from you and quickly go the other direction.  If the assailant grabs the item and leaves, call the police.  If he advances on you instead, you will know instantly that you have an entirely different problem.

If you’re alone in an elevator and someone gets in who makes you feel uncomfortable, get out!  Trust your instincts and take action!  You may briefly delay their progress, or appear rude…but your “radar” is going off for a reason, and you likely will never see the person again.   When someone comes to your door, you are under no obligation to open it.  Don’t give an opportunist the chance he seeks.

In every situation you face, remember:  take care of yourself, for no one else can.  Use your wits, your voice, and your physical skills to avoid/deescalate a conflict, escape a possible assailant, or fight for your life.

Stay safe!