Speak For Yourself

Often as children we are either told to “speak when spoken to” or told to “speak up” (in some cases followed by “stop mumbling”). As adults, we are often told the same thing, though occasionally in a less polite fashion!

When it comes to your safety & security, I must insistently say SPEAK UP! Speak strongly, loudly, assertively and often. Speak the truth, always. Help others to speak when they feel too weak or afraid; let them know their voice is equally important and needs to be heard. Speak regardless of your differences – in spite of them – so that others may grow and learn.

There are, sadly, many injustices in this world; if we don’t speak out when we see them, who will? How will the problems be solved? We are the solution…one or many, someone has to be first.

A priest named Martin Niemöller (who spent over eight years in a Nazi concentration camp) wrote a succinct comment of how important this is.

They Came For Me

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out–because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out–because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists
and I did not speak out–because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for me…
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Always remember, YOU are more powerful than you realize. Together, WE can empower each other and accomplish great things.

The Root Of The Problem

There is a lot of talk about Bullying (both of Children and Adults) and the effect it has on people mentally, emotionally and physically. Discussion is good, action is better, treating the root of the problem is always the best solution – but often the most difficult.

Bullying is an injury to both parties – and both parties require help to make it stop. Often someone who is marked as a “Bully” continues to do so largely to live up to the reputation; but also out of the fear that a bigger Bully may set on them. The Bullies we see are often are the creation of Other Bullies we’re unaware of; for every Bully pushing someone around, there are frequently two others pushing that Bully to do more.

Bullying transcends childish acts such as teasing, rough housing or joking around. It can be a dangerous activity with devastating physical and psychological effects. It’s a prominent risk factor for substance abuse and addiction, but the person being bullied isn’t the only one at risk.DrugRehab.com

Sometimes, Bullying can be both the cause and effect of substance abuse. The act itself is certainly a prime candidate in addictive behaviour; a struggle to have and keep power over others and the “rush” that provides.

Recently I was contacted by the folks at DrugRehab.com about the work they’re doing in the community with exactly these problems. Their website is a valuable resource to educate others about problems of abuse and how to get treatment. On just this topic, they have a concise section about Bullying and it’s links to substance abuse – in addition to other informative articles and information about Domestic Abuse (another form of Bullying). Please go read the page and share it with those you care for – and those who may need the help.


Why Is Assault Prevention A Question?

Everyone has the inherent right to safety – their person, their family, their home… Why then is there such a question about the right to defend that safety? In North America especially, we seem to have two extreme views on defending oneself – either not at all, or to the extreme point of ridiculousness – both of which are detrimental to your safety.

Just Lay There: For decades, people (Women especially) have been told; “Don’t fight back, don’t resist, you’ll only anger your attacker”. This has, of course, encouraged the attackers, since it offers to give them everything they want, regardless of the consequences. This mindset can be directly linked to any number of abductions and other assaults, and has also propagated the unfortunate side effect of “victim blaming”, which also promotes the lack of victims coming forward and reporting many of these crimes. Think of this, if someone is hurting you and you continue to let them, what reason do they have to stop?

Armed To The Teeth: The other extreme is something we see often in advertisements, websites, popular entertainment; usually the analogy of “swatting a fly with a cannon”. Those who promote this ideology believe you can never have enough protection from the world around you – weapons, alarms, defensive devices of all kinds. In the last decade or so, Women are targeted much more than ever before with “pink washing” (the belief that if it’s pink, it somehow performs better for Females, no matter how ridiculous – like pink camouflage) or items that resemble some “typically Female item” (like a lipstick). Of course, none of the people selling you these items actually train you to use them effectively, nor do they offer any useful defensive information beyond fear-mongering their way into thousands of dollars of your money.

So, where is the middle ground? Is non-resistance ever called for? Is the use of a weapon ever practical? Am I selling you something like everyone else?

Of course, I AM selling you something; I teach Assault Prevention Courses. However, what I’m actually selling you (giving you) is a change in thought process:

  • You have the right to defend yourself – regardless of size, age, social standing, career…
  • Defending yourself (and your loved ones) is always the right choice (and this doesn’t always mean fighting physically)
  • All assaults should be reported
  • Pink Weapons won’t save you

Speaking of courses/classes, there are those who would convince you that: it takes years of specialized training to defend yourself, that you must purchase a membership to some training centre and attend faithfully every week or it won’t work, that some MMA Superstar is more equipped to prevent an assault than the average person on the street. WRONG. On all counts.

For example, here’s a simple rule to remember in an emergency: if you see someone in a situation where they require emergency assistance (Police, Fire, Ambulance) and you don’t have a phone, the correct thing to shout is “Dial nine-one-one!”. Seems obvious? You’d be surprised at the people who, in a similar situation have shouted “Dial nine-eleven!” and equally panicked people couldn’t dial the phone, looking for the “eleven”. The reason? Panic. Not knowing what to instinctively do in that situation. This is why training, any training, must be as easy to remember as it is to learn. This is why you need to act more than you react. If you have to stop and think about what to do during a violent situation, that’s too slow.

Today’s biggest tip? Pay attention to your surroundings! How often have we seen people walking along the street with their ears closed (headphones, earbuds), their head down (texting or other phone-related actions), never looking about them – and even crossing into traffic, then looking shocked when someone toots their horn? How often have you been that person? We often have a lot on our minds, technology often has us in constant communication with our Family, friends, office…we fail to notice what is happening right in front of us. Look up, look around, listen. Not only will this make you safer generally, you may even notice something wonderful.

There is no single answer to staying safe, but common sense is certainly the first ingredient. Be aware, be prepared and most of all, don’t listen to people who say you can’t do it. I’ve taught people from the age of 6 to 86 and they all learned something – even one thing – that could help them be safer and keep their family & friends safer. Most of them passed this knowledge on to others, because it was easy to learn AND they remembered it long after the class had ended.