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.