Straight talk about Mace…

Ahhh…Mace,   Doesn’t it just seem like the pinnacle of self defense ease?  You don’t have to train to use it, you can easily buy it, it’s cheap, and since it’s not fatal you don’t have to ask yourself the “could I kill someone” question before you arm yourself with it.

But SHOULD you arm yourself with it?

First off, let’s clear up WHAT mace is.  Mace and pepper spray are NOT the same thing, though used synonymously.  Mace is an irritant, like tear gas, and pepper spray is an inflammatory agent.  Mace makes eyes sting and tear, pepper spray makes them swell up and shut, causing temporary blindness.  It also causes the lung tissue to be inflamed when inhaled.  Personally, I carry Blue-face, because not only does it come with the tagline “turns criminals into smurfs!” but it is a defense spray with dye added so that the police or future potential victims can see that the attacker has been sprayed in the face.

Back to the question of whether or not you are going to carry mace/pepper spray.  Simply put, if you are going to use it as an excuse to do stupid things that you would normally avoid as unsafe, because it gives you a false sense of security, then you are better off not taking it.  I’ve been pepper sprayed twice (both accidental), and I’m telling you, it’s irritating, but not necessarily debilitating.  Also, when you spray it, it usually disperses in a wide stream that can easily catch the wind and blow back at you as well as the attacker.  To avoid this, you have to have the mace really close to the eyes so that the liquid remains liquid instead of mist.  Or buy a bottle that disperses in a stream, but those are harder to find.

If someone is close enough to be threatening, or even has taken the fight to the ground, mace can be an asset.  It can turn the tides of the fight in your favor.  But it is not going to assure safety and escape.  You can’t just spray an attacker in the face and expect them to run away crying.  I use mace as a way to blind them so that I can strike while they are distracted.  Mace is the start of the fight, not the end of one.  Spray them and then fight like an animal and then run for your life.

If you are determined to follow common sense self defense rules regardless of carrying it, then mace is a good addition to your self defense arsenal for the worst case scenarios.  But if it creates a false sense of security and will make you more likely to put yourself in danger, you are better off leaving it alone, because it’s just not effective or certain enough to even out the increased risks you may be taking.

Disclaimer:  The opinions expressed on damsel in defense are just my personal opinions and not professional or legal advice.

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Teach your kids that adults aren’t always right

The last couple posts focused on awareness and protecting children, and since I’m on a child abuse prevention kick right now I’m going to continue on from there.  The truth is, no matter how hard you try, you can’t make sure your child never encounters someone who wants to do something inappropriate.  From a babysitter, to a teacher, or a coach, you can’t always be there to make sure no one does something they shouldn’t.

One of the reasons children are victimized is because they are usually in an environment where the adult is always right, no matter what the child thinks at home.  They are used to doing things they don’t want to do because they are told to, and they are dependent and thus have to follow rules that may not even make sense to them.  Unfortunately, this blind sense of always being wrong compared to an adult leads to tragedy when a sexual conflict comes up.

***Trigger warning*** for anyone reading this who has experienced child sexual abuse, you should make sure you’re in a good place to read this, or come back later.

A child will may not be comfortable with the touching or the abuse that goes on, but if it is done by a trusted a adult, they will have a hard time saying no, or knowing that it’s wrong.  We have to teach our children that there are some things that no one can do, some things that adults can not be right doing, that no one can be right doing.

This doesn’t need to be graphic and traumatic.  For instance, using a doll or pictures in a children’s book to explain that no one should ever touch them in certain places, and if it happens, to scream no, leave, and tell another trusted adult immediately.  Too many acts of child abuse are more mentally coercive than physically coercive, the attack is dependent on the child being too afraid or confused to stop the assault or draw attention to it.  Even if it seems like something children shouldn’t have to face, it’s becoming more and more likely that they will face it, and to be armed, they need to have a rigid idea of what is and isn’t allowed.  They need to be taught that if they feel uncomfortable they always have a right to yell and find another adult.  And they need to know that they have a right to say no to people in authority.

Without going into more detail, I think you get what I mean about telling them.  And you can’t be TOO vague, like that safety kid’s song “stay outside of my line or I’ll tell on you” because kids are awfully literal and won’t understand.  They need to know locations and that touching and even being shown certain things is something to scream about and tell on.  That adults are wrong when they do these things.

Disclaimer:  The opinions expressed on damsel in defense are just my personal opinions and not professional or legal advice.

Dangerous Barbie?

http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=13506614

In case you want to skip reading the article, it’s a warning from the Federal Bureau of Investigation about a Barbie doll that doubles as a digital camera that could be used and exploited by pedophiles to get inappropriate video of children.

I know.  COME ON.  The sad thing about this article is not that the FBI finds it necessary to warn people about a toy like this, the sad thing about this article is that it’s spot on.  I thought considering today’s earlier post on child abusers this was relevant.  The FBI profiles these people all the time, if they see a threat with what should be an innocent children’s toy, it should tell you something about child predators.  They plot, they scheme, they think hard about ways to attack, ways to exploit.  This post isn’t so much to warn you about this barbie, but to warn you there are people out there that will take ANY opportunity and look at it’s potential for catching a child victim.  They understand children, who are so innocent and ready to love and so open to presents.  The phrase “candy from strangers” is pathetically accurate.  What couldn’t you bribe the little children in your life to do with the right amount of candy or presents?  While an older man holding out a Barbie is a huge creepy warning sign to an adult, it is a temptation to a child.  Watch out for anyone with a camera out around your children.  Watch out at the public pool for men diving under the water with goggles in the kid’s pool.  Never assume a place is safe or normal, never assume a toy or a stranger is harmless.

Disclaimer:  The opinions expressed on damsel in defense are just my personal opinions and not professional or legal advice.

Let’s talk about kids…

Kids are stupid.  Really.  That’s why I wish people would stop having more kids than they can protect.

Any trip I take I see it everywhere, a young toddler in the front yard alone, a 7 year old wandering in the mall, a kid on the sidewalk in front of a store.  I could have picked them up and run off if I wanted to.

Protecting and supervising our kids isn’t enough though.  People close to us can also be harmful.  So here’s some tips on pedophiles.

1.  They LOOK for lonely, unsupervised, poor, or lonely/unhappy children.  Yes.  They do.  So remember when you want to yell or crush your child’s spirit you are saying to a potential predator that that child is less protected.

2.  They live near schools, and churches.  Even with laws that should prevent it, they do.  And they watch schoolyards.  Don’t assume your children are safe playing at even their most familiar places.

3.  They aren’t the creepers around the corner with the obviously sinister appearance.  If they were, they wouldn’t get parents to trust them with their children, and children to trust them in general.  They are charismatic, the favorite teacher, the soccer coach, and even in my friend’s case, the ice skating assistant coach.  Make sure someone is watching practice.

4.  Search your zipcode on a sex offender registry.  It will sicken you but at least scare you into awareness.  Just google “your state’s name” plus sex offender registry.  Remember it is illegal to use the info there for anything other than awareness and your own safety.  No harassment.  Read the fine print before you accept the terms to enter your state’s registry.

I’m sure you are all wonderful mothers or will be one day.  But this world is getting more evil.  It’s an awareness game.  No one wants to talk about something so awful, but if no one does, it leads people to think it’s okay to leave their children unattended.

Lots of people want to talk about the child molester problem.  Blah blah they are mentally ill, blah blah they will re-offend when they get out of jail.  And truthfully, our system does NOT properly address them.  So I was asked by someone once, what would you suggest?  How do we deal with predators?

My answer is to turn it over to families.  Educate people how to protect their own.  If each family protected it’s children, abusers would have no victims, and if victims decreased, so would offenders.  Because while most victims don’t become abusers, a good portion of abusers suffered monstrous abuse.

And one other thing.  This isn’t about hatred.  It isn’t about rejoicing when predators are harmed in jail.  We shouldn’t glory in anyone’s anguish, and I think we need to remember that we don’t know a person’s history.  I am in no way condoning child abuse.  I know personally that is it one of the cruelest, most unfair and traumatically scarring things that a person can choose to do to another person.  And one day they will be held responsible.

But I am saying that hate solves nothing, but love can help us protect.

Disclaimer:  The opinions expressed on damsel in defense are just my personal opinions.  Damselindefense.com is not liable in any way for actions arising from reading it.  Additionally, damselindefense.com is not affiliated with the recent company damselindefense.net that was founded nearly a year after my blog.