Self protection should also be part of your daily wellness practice. A few times a year I ask my friend Jane to come over to Aqua Serene Wellness to share her immense knowledge and product line she sells for self protection to my female clients.
Her events are done in the “Home Party” format, we have cheese, some wine, a lot of laughs and share stories. The subject matter is more intense, softened a bit by a pink pepper spray canister and a purse that has a place for self defense items built in. Let me tell you that pink or blue or flowered pepper spray canister packs a serious punch, be not fooled by it’s “girly exterior” and don’t be fooled by my girly exterior either!
Jane shows you how to use all the tools she sells as well as learn to be aware, confidant in what you do have on you to defend yourself, and where to strike that is most effective. She shows us how to get out of duct tape, zip ties all while quoting some sobering statistics.
There are quite a few products, stun guns, striking tools, personal alarms etc., I am not here to sell to you or promote a business. I am here to share with you some of my personal experience with “stranger danger” and unfortunately not so stranger danger.
I have done a few self defense classes over the years out of necessity. I also played adult women’s soccer from 1997-2002, which is quite the contact sport in and of itself. Imagine a bunch of women over 40, peri menopausal, half of us divorced and angry attacking the ball and sometimes each other all in the name of competition! I think this helped me a lot with being confrontational if necessary. I have had to defend myself physically, emotionally and legally so I am no stranger to conflict or abuse.
I have learned to pay attention to my surroundings, keep my car door locked when filling the gas tank, Parking in well lit areas, wearing my purse strap across my body, etc. all the normal things you have heard to do…I do them. I keep my pepper spray hooked to my key ring or purse, I have a stun gun for those dark walks in a parking deck and I have a striking tool (my personal favorite) hooked to my purse by a break-away tether.
I have unfortunately had to grab my pepper spay and sticking tool both recently!
I have a pepper spray canister conveniently located in reach at my front desk. The people that work out of my wellness center all know where it is and we all watch each other’s back. Massage therapist are sometimes a target for “Creepers” We have seven female practitioners in our center and I think they all have attended the self protection workshops, possibly more than once. While our center is located in a very safe community, it can and does happen anywhere.
So now for a few of my recent “Oh $hit” moments:
One evening this Spring I was getting ready to leave work. I had shut down all the lights, outside and inside except the front office. I was at my desk getting my notes finished up on the daily files and felt a creepy feeling rush over me. I was looking down taking notes and when I looked up there was a strange man standing at my desk. I never heard him come in the door and my desk has a high top counter so I didn’t notice him walk up to it. I should have locked the door but I was only going to be a minute writing notes and then leave for the day. It was about 7:30pm, already dark outside.
I am not sure how long he stood there staring at me, but he saw I was visibly startled when I looked up and saw him. He never said sorry to startle you, or hi, or anything, just stood there staring at me. I asked if I could help him, while my hand found the canister of pepper spray stashed at my desk. He said he wanted an appointment for massage “now” I told him we were closed for the day and he mentioned that the door was open. He seemed pissy that no one was available last minute and I told him we are by appointment only. He grumbled something inaudible and left. I got up and locked the door behind him and then waited to leave, watching him sit in his car for several minutes in the parking lot. Once I saw his car leave I grabbed my keys with my striking tool in one hand and my purse pepper spray in the other and headed to my car.
It only takes a few seconds of inattention to get yourself into a situation.
My most recent moment happened in August on Mass Ave on a Sunday evening. It was a hot steamy early evening (still daylight). I was meeting a friend for dinner and then we were going to see another friend perform in a show. I got to the restaurant early to put our name in. They told me it would be about 15 minutes for a table, the place was packed. There was no place at the bar to wait so I opted to wait outside. There were several others outside waiting as well. To my right were two young ladies and a man standing down the sidewalk quite a ways and to my left was an older couple about 20 feet down. I leaned up against the brick wall of the building taking in the sights of the busy downtown area. I put my cell phone in my back pocket so I could feel the text alerts from both my friend and the notification our table was ready. Most of you that know me, know I try never to keep my phone on my body, I usually keep it in my purse. I knew I wouldn’t hear or feel it there so I jammed it into my pocket.
I saw a man coming down the sidewalk at a fast pace. His brilliant white, fresh out of the wrapper t-shirt was so bright against his skin, it still had the prominent “fold lines” in it. Funny that is what caught my attention. He was making a bee line right towards me and at first I was searching the file system in my brain for a familiar face match, did I know him? No….I did not.
He literally got 2 inches from my entire body and stood in front of me, our eyes were in a deadlock stare. I could feel and smell his breath on my face! He had glassy eyes with pin point pupils and I immediately recognized substance use disorder. I had a death grip on my striking tool behind my back, it was attached to my purse with a break away tether.
He said nothing, although he seem to be ready to pounce on me. I stared him down, I said nothing but in my mind I was saying to him. “don’t touch me, don’t step closer, I will plant the striking tool into your temple” Once I finished that sentence in my head, he shuttered and stepped back and ran. It was the weirdest thing. I let the breath leave my body and right then my back pocket buzzed to alert me of the table being ready and I almost dropped to the sidewalk!
The two ladies and guy down the sidewalk came up to me and asked me what happened. They saw the entire bizarre thing happen. The one girl said she thought he was going to grab me.
I was calm during the incident, that comes from being prepared and knowing how to use what you have on you. I fell apart after the initial threat some and I can to this day see his wild drug infused eyes staring back at me.
At this point my friend arrived and oddly enough we were seated at a shared table with the three people outside who witnessed the moment. They were still talking about it.
There is a list being shared all over the internet lately about the things a woman has to think of for safety compared to a man, it is pretty eye opening. It was published by a man named Jackson Katz Ph.D who uses it in his presentations:
He asked men and women what they do to protect themselves from potential abuse: The male response was ; “Nothing, I don’t think about it”
The female response had over 35 items! Here are a few examples:
- Hold my keys as a potential weapon
- Check the backseat before getting in the car
- Don’t go jogging at night
- Never put my drink down & come back to it
- Always watch my drink being poured
- Have a male voice on my answering machine
- Park in well lit areas
- Never use a parking garage
- Watch what I wear
- Don’t get in elevator with a lone man or group of men
- Make sure my family knows my itinerary
- Lock my car doors as soon as I get into my car
- Make sure not to rent first floor apartments
- Carry pepper spray
I have had my share of abusive situations, physical, emotional and legal. Without going into private details, I was a victim of a crime and my case helped to change the verbiage of an existing law here in Indiana that protects your reasonable right to privacy. Believe it or not the original wording only protected you from strangers! Not your significant other, husband, wife, etc., Technology and other advances leave many things in the dust unless we challenge them to change with the times.
This subject is touchy, a hot button and not talked about very much. It is important to speak about it and to be prepared. Chances are you may never need to protect yourself, but you should know how. If you would like to reach out to Jane Norton and see her products click the link below;
We see all these campaigns, news stories and political posts on social media, while it is a good idea to raise awareness, I see many people give opinions that have no experience to back it up. They have judgement about how someone should behave, what they should say etc., Unless you have been there please remember your judgement comes at the expense of another. It drives me nuts and it is also a trigger for those of us that have had such an unfortunate experience. I have been on the witness stand, I have been cross examined, I have sat in depositions, interviewed by police detectives, prosecutors, attorneys and digital forensic investigators. I have had to ask for several protective orders, been harassed by the criminal and the system. I have watched the system fail me on more than one occasion and I have witness triumph as well. I have an opinion that is backed by experience…protect yourself, learn how, stay aware, teach your children about stranger danger and not so stranger danger. Be gentle with those who have been on the dark side, the incident might be over, but the triggers are everywhere, and memories are hard pressed to go away. PTSD is real and it is life changing.
Wellness comes in many forms. Be safe out there.
Disclaimer: As always this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not to be copied or published without the full written consent of the author. The events described within are from the authors memory of how, when and where the events took place and any similarity to actual people living or dead are purely a coincidence.