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Women's Self Defense
Women's Self Defense

By: Charles Heller

You are a nice person. You live a decent life. You neither seek nor expect trouble. The trouble is, you don't expect others to be much different than you. It's hard to imagine that some folks get up in the morning and decide to do violence to their fellow human beings, but they do.

One out of three women will experience an attempt or a completion of a sexual assault in their lifetimes. Think it's only going to happen if you're young and cute? Oldest sexually assaulted woman on record: 96. Youngest: 2 hours. Now what kind of a @#$%ing pervert could do that? I don't know. If I understood perverts it would scare me worse than not understanding. If you can understand insanity, what does that say about your sanity? It's enough to know it happens... Let's talk about prevention.

In 1978 Peter Wright and John Rossi were commissioned by the Bureau of Justice to do a victimization study that involved interviews with incarcerated violent felons. Many were shown videotapes of women in crowded city settings. To a man, they picked out the same people they would attack. Can you guess why?

To be a criminal is to believe in something for nothing. It is to ignore the law of sewing and reaping. You must believe in a free lunch. What is it you want most from people if you're a criminal? AN EASY TARGET! If you're looking to assault somebody, are you going to seek out Jean-Claude Van Damn or Bruce Willis? You're looking more for a Mister Rogers, aren't you? Moral: If you look like food you are more likely to be eaten!

Now some facts. In 1997, professors Lott and Mustard of the University of Chicago did a study of all 3054 counties in the US. They found that women who resist criminal attack with DEADLY FORCE are 86% less likely to be killed or injured. 86%. Read that again and let it sink in. You are more than 3/4 more likely to fend off a criminal attack if you are armed! This is not some firearm instructor's opinion, but a documented fact. So what can you do to actually protect yourself? The first step is to be aware of your surroundings.

Col. Jeff Cooper devised a system of color codes of mental awareness. The first one is condition white. I call this the mental state of liquid paper - unaware of surroundings. If something happens to you in this condition, you cannot shift mental gears quickly enough to respond effectively.

Next is condition yellow, a relaxed state of mental alertness. To stay in this condition one must constantly ask herself, "is everything the way it's supposed to be?" This requires more effort than you'd think, as today there are so many distractions; noisy kids, cell phone, errands, etc. People are busy!

The next state of awareness is called condition orange. It means you have detected a specific threat or danger to your family's well being. Someone approaches you in a parking lot, or you smell smoke in the house. Your child stops making noise when she's usually loud. You suddenly can't hear anything on the baby monitor, etc. Something is wrong. At this stage you make a plan to handle whatever it is.

Condition red is what follows. You are implementing the plans you made seconds ago; You are in a fight for your life, running for safety, or you are in the process of a rescue. Now that we've looked at preparedness, lets look at tools of defense.

A sidearm is nearly a perfect tool for feminine protection. Today there is a huge variety of small, concealable, powerful devices for the purpose. I recommend that if you are not a shooter already, stick to a revolver. There's less to go wrong with them in an emergency. GET GOOD TRAINING! Think of the gun as a life raft, not an insurance policy. NRA has a "personal protection course" which is very good. The Arizona Concealed Weapon Training Course, the way I teach it, is pretty effective, too. You cannot have too much training.

Let's say you don't want a gun, what are your choices? Pepper spray comes to mind. The rules on the use of force apply just as much to it as they do to a gun. While it's not deadly force, you had better be in fear of great injury before you use it on somebody. Always exhale as you spray! Remember that if you use it, some of it WILL get on you. DO NOT rub it, no matter how much it burns! Get to a sink and splash water in your face until the burning goes away. It is still better than being an attack victim.

By the way, ANY weapon you carry should be on your body or attached to it. Forget about putting mace or a gun in your purse. It will be the first thing taken from you in a robbery, or knocked from you when an assailant hits you. Their first objective is always to disable you. Don't make it easy by having your defense mechanism easily removable.

If you are unfortunate enough to live in a jurisdiction where the state doesn't trust you with a weapon, making one can be the ticket. Try a roll of quarters (still only $10 at any financial institution) in a sock. Tie a knot at the top and you have a swing handle. Liberate the quarters before the cops get there if you use it. (I just made a fist and hit him, officer...) An umbrella makes a so-so weapon if the tip is sharpened. A heavy object on your key chain isn't bad, either. If nothing else, carry your keys with one sandwiched between your index and middle finger. They make a good scratching device to buy you time to get away.

Forget about whistles and sirens. Anybody remember Kitty Genovese, the New York woman who was murdered? She screamed for 20 minutes, over a dozen people heard her, and nobody would help. When it comes to self defense, you'd better be self reliant. Your best weapon is not in your purse, it's between your ears. It's your mind that makes you dangerous to the criminal. Make him fear you!

Charles Heller is a concealed weapons instructor and radio talkshow host, & public speaker. or (520) 419-2500

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