Protecting kids. Protecting ALL kids.

In my opinion A Damsel in Defense isn’t only responsible for defending herself.  I’m tired of seeing kids molested in the news when a simple parent’s eye could have prevented all of it.

For instance, recently a man was arrested for taking pictures up a four year old girl’s skirt in Deseret Industries.  This man was holding the four year old by the arm while sticking a phone up her skirt.  Where was the parent?   Pedophiles and attackers are everywhere.  Use family watch dog to check your neighborhood. Teach your kids how to scream. And first and FOREMOST don’t take them out and expose them to strangers if you aren’t going to keep your eyes on them!  The effects of child sexual abuse go on for a long time.  Why do people have more children than they can protect?

Also…you may not have trouble protecting your kids, but you may see kids who aren’t protected, and here is what I do about it.

If you see a kid wandering in a store, you can do what I do and keep an eye on them till they find their parents or help them find their parents.  Sometimes it weirds parents out, but at least it shows that if I could have been following them, someone else could have been.  Someone evil.  Just like rapists are looking for the woman walking alone, walking at night, and without confidence, pedophiles are looking for kids who aren’t protected, who are alone, who look uncared for economically or otherwise.

Not all victims offend, but most offenders were also abused.  If we can prevent more children being abused, we should be able to prevent more abuse happening in our world.  Protection and love for children is the answer.

I can’t stand what happened at DI.  I can’t stand that no one was watching, until he’d gotten this far.  I know we are all imperfect, but it’s time to step up our paranoia over our children’s sexual safety, and even the safety of other people’s children if that’s what it takes.  You can stop a soul from being damaged and hurt, and you’ll never know how far that will reach, who that will end up protecting.  Thank goodness someone did catch that man, and he’s in jail.

Sexual Harassment

At my last job, I was sitting in orientation and the lady next to me mentioned she had quit her last job because of sexual harassment.  Not towards her, but towards girls around her.  It had made her uncomfortable, and she had told the supervisor, but he wouldn’t do anything because the actual girl the harassment was targeted towards refused to complain or come forward.  I’ve seen this too often at different jobs I’ve worked at.  Girls will come up to me and complain about sexual harassment, whether it’s inappropriate language, or texts, or calls.  First off, I ask how the offender ended up with their number.  Then I ask if they have told the person to stop.  These women seem to think that they shouldn’t have to say anything, the man knows what he is doing is wrong, and therefore he is harassing by continuing.  Whether he does or not is something she won’t know until she tells him to stop.

I’m not sure what it is that makes us women so reluctant at times to tell an attacker off.  Even I have been in the awkward position of wondering if the harassment is worth pissing off a coworker or boss and delayed reporting it.  And I think many of us wonder if reporting it would do more harm than good anyway.  In my experience, reporting it means nothing unless you have told the harasser to stop what they are doing because it offends you.

I’ve noticed that I rarely get harassed now at work.  The creepers pass right over me for other girls, and I’ve realized a pattern in who they select for the most inappropriate behavior.  I decided to analyze how my behavior has changed to make me a more undesirable target than I used to be.

It’s all body language.  Sexual harassers seem to always do little tests before escalating behaviors.  They will rub your shoulder, ask for your number, and do other little things that while minor, seem a bit inappropriate.  They might make a dirty or inapropriate comment, they might curse, but they will always be looking at you to see how you react.  Watch your feelings, if you feel a bit uncomfortable, make sure you react honestly.  If you are nervous and smile back, or laugh, or turn away shyly, it has sent them the message that you are okay with what they do, or if you aren’t, aren’t going to do anything about it.  Then by the time you are ready to do something about it, it has escalated to a point where you hate your job and feel like he has all the power because if you report him he will say it is your fault too because you didn’t say anything.

It’s simpler than you would think to make yourself an undesirable target.  I just do what comes naturally instead of hiding it behind politeness.  If a man rubs my shoulder, I shrug away and look at him like “what are you doing?”  Sometimes I say “what are you doing?”.  If a man (or woman) says something offensive at work I say “That was offensive.  Ew.”  Etc.  People innately don’t like these reactions from other people, and it will often stop them in their tracks.

Now there are other cases, cases that won’t stop, cases that are more rare and pernicious.  But it’s best to figure out which these are early on, for your own safety.  If he’s the slightly awkward and creepy coworker who thinks you’re cute, he’ll back away when stood up to.  If not, you want to know early on so you can get to a supervisor.

It’s a lot like taking precautions while walking at night.  Make yourself the least safe bet to attack.  If you show in the workplace that you don’t like inappropriate behavior and call it out quickly, the really dangerous ones should be less likely to see you as an easy target.  This has worked for me.  At first it was hard to feel confident calling others out on their flaws, but you don’t know who is harassing on purpose or on accident otherwise.

You have the right to be comfortable at work, regardless of gender of victim or harasser.  You have the right to tell other people when they make you uncomfortable, and doing so will keep you much safer, even if it’s scary at first.  I feel that as a woman there is an innate need to please, to not cause trouble.  But avoiding conflict doesn’t alleviate trouble, it leads to it.

Just a few thoughts.

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

Dangerous Barbie?

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.

Sickened and saddened

What can I say today?  My heart is heavy fellow damsels in defense.  I came across some very disturbing news that doesn’t need to be shared, but I want to leave with you the following tips for keeping your children safe.

These tips are copied and pasted from the following site, not written by me.

Child molesters typically target vulnerable children. Keep your child safe with these tips:

  • Never leave your child unsupervised in a public place or even in your front yard.
  • Don’t allow your child to roam the neighborhood by themselves or even walk down the street alone.
  • Don’t leave your child at places that are havens for children, such as public parks, video arcades or even the mall.
  • Be sure you talk to your child about their body and their right not to be touched.
  • Continue to educate your child as they grow and start early

These tips are copied and pasted from the site, not written by me.

Oh come ON

Really, the Provo river trail AGAIN?!

Okay friends.  I’m so very glad this woman fought, and got away with minimal scratches and bruises.  But let’s remember, there are just certain unsafe places, and places where a violent rape occurred in the last year are probably in that category.

So let’s take this story as a reminder that there is nothing important enough to risk your safety walking alone in an unsafe place.  Yes it’s more inconvenient to grab a friend or a guy friend.  But being with someone makes you less of a target to start with.  If an offender is looking for a victim, will he choose the girl with someone when he could choose one that’s alone?  If every girl commits to being the one who’s not alone, attackers will have a much harder job.  That’s always a goal to work for.

And also, kudos to this woman for putting up a fight.  I can’t draw too many conclusions because obviously it’s a different attacker and a different kind of assault from the one that occurred on the trail earlier this year.  But I was told that in one case the victim tried to comply, and she was raped, and nearly killed.  In this case, and one about a month ago in another part of Provo, the victims fought and escaped mostly unharmed.  It’s time to start looking at connections and deciding which you will be.

I want you all to know I don’t blame the women who do suffer assault.  Who knows every situation and how we would all behave.  I just want us all to keep thinking critically about survival.

Take care,