Titanic: Not a Damsel in Defense

When the Titanic crashed, she was no damsel in defense.  I saw the movie recently, and while I love it, I couldn’t help but see the parallels to how we can all sink if we aren’t careful.  No way to save herself, sending off desperate flares, and sinking into the ocean without any way to minimize the tremendous loss of life that occurred.  But how did she get to that situation?  Primarily two things, if I lump all the smaller technical factors together.  And these are the same things that can sink a damsel in defense as well.

1.  Overconfidence (led to running the boat too fast, not getting binoculars for the iceberg lookouts, and not turning in time).

2.  Refusal to acknowledge unlikely but possible risk factors (led to not having adequate lifeboats or proper emergency planning).

Everyone thought Titanic was unsinkable.  Why would anyone think such a thing about a huge hunk of metal?  Less sinkable, unlikely to sink maybe, but can you ever say something is impossible?  Marketing, that’s all it was.  Great marketing to get people on a big boat.  And you’ll see the same marketing from self defense weapons sometimes.  They’ll promise you’ll be unsinkable.  But you never know what can happen, and you should plan for the worst while hoping for the best. A damsel in defense watches out to make sure that the doesn’t think she is unsinkable and lead herself into a bad situation.

Self defense training and weaponry should always be a way of helping you be aware that all ships are sinkable and that there are icebergs everywhere, so you should have lifeboats on board and you should be careful how you steer.

That’s why I take issue with companies that promise you that their products will make you unsinkable, when really, there’s a lot of things you need to do to ensure you have the proper “lifeboats” for your ship.  If you are going to carry a weapon, make sure you are good enough with it that you can use it better than it will be used on you, and make sure you are strong and fast enough.  If not, and you just pick up some plastic defense toy and think it makes it fine to jog in the park at night, you are just like the Titanic, heading out into iceberg laden waters with no lifeboats.

If you are going to let anything make you feel invincible to the dangers in the darkness (or even broad daylight) make sure you prepare lifeboats for possible catastrophes.  If you are going to assume you are safe enough to go risking a metaphorical crash, make sure you have rehearsed and prepared for that crash.

1.  Acknowledge that you can sink.  Actions under this category include avoiding dangerous situations, jogging with friends during the day (jogging alone during the day and with friends at night are both still somewhat dangerous), taking awareness classes, volunteering at rape crisis centers to be really aware of the reality of rape, and anything else that keeps you aware of the “icebergs” out there.

2.  Prepare based on that acknowledgement.  Actions under this category would include getting weapons and training with them.  Also taking self defense courses that teach you how to use weapons, how to grapple, how to get away, etc.  Getting a concealed carry permit is another one.

None of these suggestions mean that you live in constant fear.  But would anyone have called the Titanic makers and captain paranoid for just putting the right number of lifeboats on and doing a lifeboat drill?  Who cares?  It would have been a way of caring more about the passengers than their own egos and convenience.  You seeing yourself as a sinkable ship navigating icebergs is a way of caring for the people on your ship, you and your family and friends.

So learn from the Titanic.  Steer carefully, keep a good lookout, and be prepared for the worst just in case.

As usual, this blog just my opinions and not professional or legal advice.

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True Safety

I have my degree in psychology, and a psychologist from my university once told me that what women fear more than anything is rape, and that what they crave more than anything is security.  As the writer of Damsel in Defense and a feminist, it’s a hard concept for me to accept.

I’m sure it’s an idea that many of us recoil from because it seems like a pretty unflattering thing to say about our gender.  What? We don’t fear global warning?  Our legs getting cut off?  The end of the world as we know it?

All joking aside, he had interviewed hundreds and hundreds of women, and concluded that women fear being violated more than anything else.

I don’t have to dig deep to come up with several reasons this may be true.  It is an intensely personal violation.  It is painful, and it proves to us that we are unprotected.  It leaves us feeling helpless.  It infringes on a woman’s right to choose even the most basic things for her body, like who enters, and who can possibly leave a child that she will have to figure out what to do with.  I know many rape victims.

I think we can all agree that when we sink into our lover’s arms, we feel safe and content in a deep way that is unsatisfied by anything else.  This safety comes from a contextually secure place of mutual respect, love, and protection.

But it’s also important to create a safe place within yourself.  One that can never be taken away, even by rape.  If you are ready, and you fight as hard as you can when the worst happens, and you make the right choice about how hard to fight because you have prepared, thought through, and trained, you will find you are safe wherever you go and whatever happens to you.  Even if the outcome is devastating you will know a litte more that it wasn’t you.  You will know more that you were prepared and did what you could.  And in preparing for the worst, you will hopefully begin to understand that you are no worse for what has happened and that you did nothing to deserve it.

When your life is threatened, it’s natural to want to submit.  While this often may not actually help you with an attacker, it is your choice.  And if you choose to do it, rather than innately do it from shock, you have a better chance of not shaming yourself later.  You will know you made an educated decision to save your own life.  The best decision you could make in the moment, based on extensive preparation.

It seems morbid to prepare yourself for the worst.  But think how much safer you would go to bed at night, having fully explored the things that can happen and the meanings you would attach to them.  Imagine the worst, and how you would feel about yourself after, and if the place you reach isn’t loving, work until you could see yourself in a loving way no matter the outcome.  Rape is not the fault of the victim, but that doesn’t stop victims from blaming themselves.  Prepare yourself to think critically about rape.  Work hard to think of (and study) all possible ways to avoid, escape, and deal with the “unthinkable” things that happen every day, everywhere.

Again, if you love that peaceful feeling of safety when you are promised protection, when you are in your loved one’s arms and they are in yours, or when you are safe under your blankets behind a secured door, make it a priority to create a safe space in your head as well.  One where peace comes from knowing that you care about yourself enough to protect yourself in every way, to work hard for it, as you would want someone else who cares and has promised to care for you to do.  Create a space where you can figuratively go under the blankets, unafraid because you have someone protecting you with everything they have: You.

Thanks and stay safe all.

That is what being a damsel in defense means to me.  A full woman, capable, knowledgeable, fully aware and sentient.  Feminine and defensive.  Acknowledging female vulnerability, human vulnerability, and defending it.  When I thought of the name for my blog, damsel in defense said it all for me.  I’m still a woman, or a girl, and I don’t have to give that up to be safe.  But being a damsel doesn’t put me in distress.  It puts me in defense.

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

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.

Another website and a few tidbits

http://www.safetyforwomen.com/mydefence.htm

I like this website a lot.  It’s clearly done by a woman who cares.  There are some interesting articles.  I wanted to point out two things.

1. That moment you can’t defend yourself won’t only affect you, as in the case of this woman, who lost her child as well.

2. There are so many resources online for learning to defend yourself, with all the time we spend on the internet, just an extra five minutes looking at defense sites can make a huge difference.

I also recommend picking up a book, like one on Krav Maga, which is really excellent and easy to learn self defense.  There are just no excuses.  Even if you are a busy mother with very little time in the day, I know your free time is precious.  But so are your children, and making an investment in time to give yourself an extra chance to make sure you are safe and there for them as they grow up, and that you can protect them, is worth it.  A few ideas.

Take a self defense course in your area.

Go to the gym.

Work out at home, cardio for running away, weights for fighting someone off.

Go take a concealed carry class, if nothing else to become familiar with guns and safer around them.

Buy mace, and then read up on how to use it. Defense actions has a great post on it here:  http://defenseactions.com/blog/defense-buys/macepepperspray-1-do-they-really-work

Feel free to message me with questions about specific scenarios.  If I don’t have the answer, I’ll find it for you.

Sometimes a lot of things I know about defense are so familiar to me I don’t think to write about it, so if you have an idea for something you’d like me to post on, let me know.

Thanks,

Peach

Fighting Dirty Part 2

Okay now I’m going into techniques.  As I mentioned in the previous fighting dirty post, these are kind of nasty.  You’ve been warned.

To start with, forget about punching.  Your hand is good for much more.  It’s best to avoid an attack, by not walking alone or in dangerous places.  It’s better to have a gun or aim a kick.  But I’m going to talk about what to do in the worst case.  If you end up close enough to their body that you are in striking distance with your arm, throw an open palm to their face, with your thumb to the side and your pointer finger slightly bent.  They will think a punch or strike is coming, but your real aim is to get your fingernails near or in their eye socket.  My Krav Maga instructor explained it thus:

“Have you ever had an eyelash in your eye?  It is hard to think of anything else.  Now imagine it’s a finger.”

Good point.  Don’t just launch and withdraw your hand, you throw it like a punch and the second you are close enough you go for that eye.  If he’s on top of you or fiddling with your clothing, try to get in his eyes.  Even if they are closed if you keep scratching and pushing you are likely to hurt him.  Other great places to scratch are the inside of the nostrils if you can hook one, or the side of the cheek.  No one really thinks about these places but they should because they are places that are extremely sensitive but also aren’t typically expected.  He things you are going to be scared, lying with your eyes closed, praying not to die.  HECK NO you are going to be digging in his eye like there’s buried treasure in there!  Surprise!

Now here is a trigger warning.  If you have been a victim of sexual assault, this may be sensitive and cause ptsd symptoms, so you are free to leave if that seems unsafe.  But please come back when you can handle it because this is stuff I feel should be understood.

If he is sexually assaulting you, and all else has failed: you have no weapon, you didn’t get the eye, etc, it’s time to realize this is a fight for your life.  You have to assume someone who will rape you can and may kill you.  Don’t assume if you lie there he will let you live.  That is playing roulette.  Also if you know a rape victim, you know the effects are lasting and very, very ugly, and soul deep.

The other thing to realize, is that if he plans to sexually assault you, at some point this conceited monster is going to present you with his genitalia.  That’s right, this man is so sure of his power over you he is going to bring out the most vulnerable part of his body.  And this empowers you.  Some men will even go for an oral assault.  Really? You are going to put that near my teeth?  We’ve all heard the stories of rapist carrying their balls back to the police station to be reattached, or if you hadn’t, you have now.  Something to think about.

“But Peach”, you say,”I don’t want to bite a —–“.

I know.  And no one says you have to.  But as a damsel in defense I’m just suggesting last ditch efforts at fighting.  And I have heard of less violent ways to deter a rapist.  Like peeing yourself, or feigning mental disability.  But in my opinion the ol’ “grip it and rip it” method is something everyone should think of before hand.  Get your hands on it and don’t let go.  Bite, scratch, tear.  Twist.  Yank.  Be creative.  Some women will argue that they could be beaten or killed.  But I’m reminded of the rape that happened in Utah where the woman was completely compliant and thought she would be let go, but instead was dragged into the bushes, raped, and then had a football sized rock dropped on her head in an attempt to finish her off.  This broke my heart.

In the end it’s your choice.  Check out this website as it has some good explanation on “grip it and rip it”.

http://www.crime-safety-security.com/grip-it-and-rip-it-rape-escape-article-bank.html

I’ll have more posts up about specific defenses soon but I need to figure out a way to have pictures to help explain.

So think about it, take care, and stay safe.

Peach

http://defenseactions.com/blog/

Hey guys, this is a really awesome and informative blog.  It’s written by the incredible instructor I had for my concealed carry class that spurred me to start this blog.  He’s another one of those special people who just wants to help people stay safe.  He covers a lot of issues with concealed carry, but also has specific tips for general defense, like pet safety, winter safety, and mace concerns.  I really recommend you follow his site, and if you are lucky enough to take one of his seminars, tell him I sent you.

http://defenseactions.com/blog/

Girls Should Fight Dirty

Lots of men, when they find out I’ve been practicing martial arts and self defense, like to ask me to punch them.

“Come on, punch me as hard as you can.”  And they point to their arm.

What th-…really?  Who on earth trains to punch someone in the arm?  This is usually a misguided attempt to prove that I’m a little girl who is ineffective even with training, and to impress me with what a tough guy they must be.

Here’s the thing, I’ve boxed, I know how to fight with my fists, how to properly wrap my hands and go at a bag for an hour.  I also know that for a woman, a punch is not even close to the most effective way to fight.

Men have rules about how to fight with honor.  We don’t need to follow those rules because a man attacking us has already been proven to have no such honor, and since he’ll probably be bigger, stronger and faster, we have to be tricky if we want to win.

Sure sure, with a lot of training and a very fit body I can probably disable an opponent with no training even if he’s male.  But I’m just saying that even if I have training, there’s no guarantee I’m not going to come up against someone else with the same level of training, who’s taller and stronger and a man.  What then?

This brings me to what happens when a man invites me to punch him on the arm.  I usually respond with something like, “I don’t think punching is effective.  Even so, I could probably really injure you, and it seems like a lose-lose situation for me to try to injure your body while you try to injure my pride.  I’ve been in real fights, and I don’t enjoy hurting people.  But if you fight me understand that I fight extremely dirty, and with the intent to maim.  Not to play.”

And it’s true.  I trained in Krav Maga in California.  It’s the Israeli Defense system.  They train women in a very different way from other martial arts.  Instead of partnering with another woman, I was told that women weren’t what I needed to know how to defend myself against.  So I was paired with a 300 pound male instructor, and we grappled in awkward and frightening positions.  And it gave me more confidence than any amount of other self defense training.

Now ladies, I’m about to get icky and get into some pretty graphic details on what I mean by fighting dirty.  If you are easily offended think carefully before going further.  However I strongly believe that it is better to face the icky things now, than have ickier things happen to us later because we didn’t consider them.  So continue on to part 2 if you want to hear a few examples of dirty techniques.

Later,

Peach