Archive for the ‘women’s self defense’ Category

Power to the Word? Or Power to YOU?

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

The other day, I was talking to a young lady who was interested in taking my Women’s Self-Defense class. She wanted to know if I thought it would be a good idea. “Absolutely. You’re in high school, you’re starting to go out on dates, to parties with lots of people you might not know well, and you’ll be around people who are drinking alcohol.”

“You teach how to fight?” she asked. When I told her that we do, her excitement grew. “Cool! What else is in the class?” I described that we cover the mindset of the attacker, how to recognize threatening behaviors… rape…

“RAPE?” She threw her arms out in front of her, then turned her head away from me and hugged herself, shutting down any further conversation. The word scared her so much, she no longer wanted to know how to protect herself, how to fight off an attacker, or how to be safe just walking through a parking lot to her car.

As a RAD Instructor, I get this response from women fairly frequently. But here’s the thing: Rape is a word. So is igloo; so is fern. But these other words don’t strike fear in a woman’s heart, don’t send chills up her spine, like the word rape does. Clearly, this is because when we hear the word rape, we imagine the crime that it names. We think of the terror, the violence, the degradation inherent in the act, and we want to distance ourselves from it as much as possible. It’s a natural survival technique.

Unfortunately, it’s also harmful, and can lead to death by extreme violence, or physical, emotional, and psychological damage that can last a lifetime.

RAD stands for Rape Aggression Defense. Our techniques combat the kind of assaults women encounter against one or more perpetrators who use anything from verbal coercion to physical violence to commit the crime of forced sexual relations. And the word RAPE is right there in the center of our logo. Anytime a RAD Women’s Self-Defense class is being held, participants will see that logo–and that word–on our registration forms, self-defense manuals, class eval sheets, and on the uniforms we wear as Instructors. Some women cringe at it. Others have asked RAD directly to remove it from their logo, because of the negative reaction it causes.

And that’s exactly why RAD put it in their logo to begin with–and why it stays there. The point is not to upset the women in our classes (some of whom are rape survivors). It’s to take the power away from the word. Think about it: if just seeing the letters R-A-P-E renders a woman so fearful that she freezes, what will happen to her when an attacker grabs her and threatens to kill her if she doesn’t do exactly what he says? RAD’s point is this: if you can’t say even the word… if you won’t acknowledge that it exists… you can’t fight it.

RAD takes the strength away from the word RAPE and gives that power to women.

Time Over Content?

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

The other day, I received a call from a young woman representing a small women’s group here in the city. The members of the group had expressed an interest in learning self-defense; could I teach them? Absolutely, I replied. As we began discussing potential dates and times for a Saturday or Sunday (their preferred days), the caller stopped me. “Just what all is involved in your class, and how long do you need to cover it?”

I explained that we taught how to recognize a dangerous individual before it’s too late, de-escalation techniques, blocking and parrying, various hand strikes, proper punching and kicking techniques, as well as how to break strangle holds, wrist grabs, bear hugs, etc. And that we cover ground fighting and rape reversals, among other things.

“Well,” the group leader said, “that certainly is… a lot of material.” Yes, RAD Women’s Basic Self-Defense is a very thorough course. It has to be to effectively combat the broad spectrum of violence perpetrated against women in our society. But it was more than the caller and her group wanted. She asked how long I would need to pass all this information on to her group of 12-15. After all, “it’s important to keep in mind that they’re taking time out from their busy lives for this class.”

“For a group that size, we can offer a one-day workshop. We will complete the course in 6 hours. Three hours for the first half, maybe a short break for lunch, and three hours for the second half.”

“I see,” she replied. “That might be more time than they’re able to give. Keep in mind that a lot of these women are moms. They have to run the kids to team practice, piano lessons, etc. And some of them work on weekends. What can you teach them in two hours?”

Two hours? “Yes,” she stated firmly. “Time is more important than content.”

Rather than answer her question, I had to ask one myself: “With all due respect, ma’am, do the members of your group want to know how they can save their lives in case of an attack by a violent criminal? Or do they just want to pretend they know? Because in 6 hours, we can teach them how to break a hold, neutralize an adversary, and escape. In 2 hours, we can’t teach them anything, but they can kid themselves that they’re safe.”

When it comes to self-defense, there are no shortcuts. We’re happy to work with people, to set up classes around hectic schedules; to break up classes into multiple meetings if necessary. But knowing how to punch and kick with maximum effectiveness, to be able to rely on muscle memory to execute the technique… these are not skills that can be grasped by reading a book or watching a video. Nor can they be learned in a quick demonstration class. They have to be done, and done again, and again. Not slowly, and not against an imaginary “Bad Guy.” RAD understands the importance of dynamic impact–striking the specific targets of a padded attacker or martial arts dummy at full force, full power.  And we give each woman in the class personal attention and instruction to hone her technique.

I know you’re busy. You’ve got work, the kids, the house, your life! And learning how to fight for your life takes time and practice. But it’s not about giving us more time than you can spare. Give yourself  the time; we’ll bring the content.

Your Cell Phone is Fooling You

Monday, September 30th, 2013

I taught a class of bright young college women over the weekend. They were smart, strong, and aware that sometimes, the best defense is a good, well, defense. What impressed me most about this group was just how inseparable they are from their phones. When I talked about how to keep safe while walking through the city after dark, one young lady assured me she had this situation locked up: “I talk to my mom on my cell phone the whole time. That way, nobody will mess with me!”

When I asked her to explain how this keeps her safe, she explained that, should anything happen to her, her mother would know where she was (approximately) and would immediately dial 911. “And then?” I asked. Then, she went on, the police would come and the attacker would run away.

That would be great–if that’s how crime and crime-fighting actually worked. However, this scenario she has imagined is not only giving her a false sense of security; it’s putting her in danger. One thing muggers, rapists, and others who prey on women look for is someone who is distracted. Chatting on the phone with mom, recalling the events of the day, this young woman was not looking around her, checking the reflections of store windows to see if anyone was following her, glancing about to see if anything looked amiss. She made it easy for someone to walk right up behind her and grab her.

And what about that grab? Let’s say she had just finished telling her mother, “By the way, I’m walking past the ice cream shop on Main Street now. So, can you believe what Roger said to me today…” Next, her mom hears her scream, or maybe she just hears the phone drop on the ground. She takes a few seconds, trying to figure out what’s happening. Could her daughter really be in some kind of trouble? Maybe she just tripped on uneven pavement, and the phone slipped out of her hand… But she’s not coming back on the line. Suspecting the worst, mom calls 911.

The dispatcher answers on the first ring, questions mom about her emergency, and notifies the correct authorities. The local police are on their way–speeding to the last known location of the young woman: the ice cream shop on Main Street. Sirens blaring and lights flashing, they get there in under two minutes, jump out of the car, and look around for our student.

But where is she? Would the attacker follow her for blocks, close the distance behind her, sneak up and clap a hand over her mouth, grab her and then… stay there? Would he remain in plain view of the public, or would he forcefully take her to an isolated spot, a place where he can be free to perpetrate whatever crime against her he favors?

The police in this scenario arrived on the scene within 2 minutes of the initial attack, which is pretty darned fast. But as I asked the student, “What do you suppose would be happening to you during that time? Those might just be the longest 2 minutes of your life.” She realized that, while it would be reassuring to have a continuous live connection to Emergency Dispatch, 1) she never really had one to begin with,  and 2) she created more danger for herself talking on her phone than had she simply looked around as she walked.

 

Other thoughts on Cell Phones and “Safety”:

Another girl in this class said that she didn’t chat on her cell phone while she walked, because she knew she could be distracted. Instead, she kept her finger poised over the setting she had for 911 on Speed Dial. She wanted to know if I agreed that she was well-prepared for an emergency. I did think she was wise not to talk on her phone as she walked, and told her so. But I asked if she’d ever pocket-dialed anyone, or accidentally called the wrong number on speed dial. She had, and understood how keeping a finger hovering over “911” could be problematic. Then, I asked about a deeper issue: if she was so concerned about her safety that she felt she needed to keep her finger a centimeter away from calling for help, might it not be a better, safer plan to find a different way to get home from work every night? Your cell phone can’t protect you from danger. Instead, take the bus, walk with friends,or maybe change your shift. If you feel that the only thing keeping you safe is luck and a speedy connection to Emergency Dispatch, your brain is telling you that something needs to change.

 

Marketers seem to enjoy playing on the fears of young women. Several of the college girls boasted to me that they had locator apps on their phones. We had just concluded a segment on date rape and how to prevent being victimized this way. One student proudly explained to me that with this app they all have, “The whole group of us can go to a party, or out to a club, and we always know where each other is. We just check the app and can tell if everyone is still at the house where the party is, or still at the club!”

When I pointed out that what they were actually finding was the location of their friend’s phone–not necessarily their friend–their faces fell in realization. Relying on cell phones to stay safe is a dangerous mistake. No app can take the place of sound judgment and caution–and, if needed, a well-placed strike to a vulnerable body part.

In Case of Rape, Throw Up??

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Has Colorado lost its collective mind? First, Democratic State Representative Joe Salazar warns that women should not carry firearms for personal protection because, wait for it… they might shoot someone. “[I]f you feel like you’re going to be raped, or if you feel like someone’s been following you around or if you feel like you’re in trouble when you may actually not be, then you pop out that gun and… pop a round at somebody.”

He would have us believe that he knows what women are thinking and whether they are really in danger, even if the women themselves don’t. In a life-threatening situation, he wants us to wait for others to come save us, recommending we make use of call-boxes, whistles, and ‘safe zones.’ In other words, “Don’t you worry your pretty little head, missy. You just wait for a big, strong man to come riding in on a white steed and rescue you from another man who wants to bash your face into the sidewalk, rip your clothes off with a blade, torture and maybe kill you. Heh, heh.”

As if that insult to women’s intelligence and judgment wasn’t bad enough, earlier this week, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs posted a 10-point “safety list” entitled What to Do If You Are Attacked. They refer to these so-called techniques as “crime prevention tips,” but the fact that they are all reactions to being attacked, rather than proactive measures to avoid an attack illustrate their lack of effectiveness in a rape/mugging/domestic violence situation.

Topping the list is “Be realistic about your ability to protect yourself.” This patronizing warning tells women they just aren’t smart enough or strong enough to defend themselves against an aggressive male, hell-bent on harming them. It’s also downright untrue. Hundreds of thousands of women realize that they have more than enough power in their bodies and minds to save themselves in an attack. They understand, first and foremost, that they are not weak, helpless waifs whose lot is to suffer simply because some criminal has chosen to mess with them. They also know that a solid punch, kick, or elbow strike to certain vulnerable targets will put a dent in an assailant’s plans and afford them an opportunity to escape.

Also recommended as “survival techniques” on the University’s list are vomiting and urinating, to convince the attacker to leave the intended victim alone. So, seeing a woman doubled over, hurling in the bushes, he might think… what? “Oh, gee, she’s having a bad enough time already. I’ll go ruin someone else’s life.” Not likely.

Also, I must point out that it is difficult to force oneself to vomit or urinate on demand–especially in a life-and-death situation such as a rape attempt. Not to mention, while one is trying to accomplish these acts, one can neither fight off the attacker nor run to safety.

Two of the tips on the list actually contradict each other: “Yelling, hitting, or biting may give you a chance to escape. Do it!” is immediately followed by “Understand that some actions on your part may lead to more harm.” In other words, little lady, let him do whatever he wants. Don’t try to fight the Big Bad Man or you’ll just make it worse for yourself. The US Department of Justice reports that women who actively defend themselves against a rapist are more likely to minimize the attack and/or escape than women who don’t fight back. And, they are no more likely to be injured than women who don’t fight back. Note: in some instances, compliance may be used as a survival technique. For example, women who have been told by a rapist with a weapon, “Just be quiet or I’ll hurt your kids” have used compliance to save their lives and those of their children. However, compliance as an option is not the same thing as making yourself helpless in the face of sheer hell.

There are quite a few women’s self-defense classes available on college campuses, at martial arts dojos, in cities large and small throughout the country. Most are good; some are excellent. The instructor who developed these so-called “survival strategies” is not someone I would want teaching my sister, my daughter, or my friends. These tips would seem to teach how to become a victim rather than a strong, empowered woman.

 

 

911 Won’t Make You Safe

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

A woman I’m friendly with is in the process of breaking up with her longtime, on-again/off-again boyfriend. I say “in the process” because they’ve already had The Talk; he knows it’s over, and she’s packing up her things to head back home in another state.

The other night, after spending several hours at a bar with his buddy, Soon-to-Be-Ex came home drunk and threatened my friend with a knife. She responded by backing slowly into a corner of the room where the phone was, ready to call 911. Fortunately, seeing just how terrified he had made her was enough for him. He put the knife down and left the house.

I listened quietly as she told me all this. Then, my concern for her got the better of me, and I blurted out, “You were gonna call 911 when he was threatening to cut your throat?? Why didn’t you run??”

Confused, she reiterated, “But I was going to call the police!”

I told her that, in that kind of emergency, she needs to get away from her attacker first. Then call for help. If he had followed through on his threat, 911 would have heard the entire, horrible scene play out. The operator would have immediately dispatched police and EMTs to the address. But he/she could do nothing to physically stop him from hurting, possibly killing, her.

If you ever find yourself in a domestic violence or abusive situation, don’t back yourself up against a wall, furniture, or anything else. You must be free to move in any direction to escape injury and get away.

Know where your exits are. Is the doorway leading to the hall, the stairs, and the front door on your right? Your left? Behind you? Keep yourself oriented. Is there a window with a screen you can kick out?

Also, think about what’s right there for you to use as a shield or weapon. A tall vase can block a slashing knife. One woman threw a small lamp at a decorative mirror, then grabbed a shard of glass and cut her attacker with it. (He fled.)

Yes, calling 911 is the right thing to do when you’re in a dangerous situation. The police will get there as fast as they can. But there’s no guarantee they’ll arrive in time to stop the attacker from injuring or killing you. Sometimes, you’ve got to get yourself away from the danger so they can help you.

Use What You Have

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

Upon leaving church a few nights ago, a woman was grabbed and shoved into a nearby alley. Her attacker then forced his tongue into her mouth. Unwilling to become a victim, she fought back using what was available to her at that moment–his tongue. And her teeth.

Biting is not one of the techniques taught in RAD’s Women’s self-defense classes. (RAD does not want the attacker’s blood to get into your mouth. Also, they want you able to yell, and to get plenty of air to fuel your defense. Some schools of self-defense, however, do sanction this technique.)

But back to our heroine. Thinking quickly, she used what she could, struck back fast and hard, and survived. In fact, her attacker was the first to flee the scene. When police arrived, they found “a substantial piece” of his tongue on the ground–about an inch long.

The point is, in a life-and-death situation like an attack, you do whatever you have to do. While RAD doesn’t teach biting specifically, we do teach you to use the tools you have to work with against the vulnerabilities of your attacker. Such improvised weapons absolutely can work for you. For example, at a sports bar in Florida, a woman fought off an assailant with her spike-heel shoe. After a few strikes to his forehead, he was unable to hit her again.

Then, there was the 58-year-old New Yorker who was sitting in a pew in her church, praying and making notes in her journal. A would-be rapist jumped on her and tried to push her down onto the pew. She stabbed him in the neck repeatedly with the pen she had been using to write with. The church’s security cameras recorded him running away, holding his neck.

There have been several reports of women, accosted in parking lots, who fought off their attackers by cutting their faces with car keys. One woman whose home was invaded threw a vase into a mirror in her den and slashed her would-be rapist with a shard of glass.

All of these events have something in common: the women thought quickly, moved quickly, and defeated their attacker. Choosing not to respond with fear and helplessness but with action, they outwitted muggers, rapists, and killers. There would be time to be scared later; during the attack was the time to think and fight for themselves. That’s just what they did. And how they won.

Criminal Search Only Part of the Answer

Friday, June 24th, 2011

The other day, I heard a radio commercial aimed at women in the dating scene. It advertised the services of website 123nc.com, which offers a search of criminal records throughout the state of North Carolina for $15.00, and outside the state for $20.00.

According to this radio ad, all you need to do to keep yourself safe from “The Bad Guys” is type your potential new beau’s name into the site and wait to see if a record pops up. Instantly, you will be apprised as to whether the cute guy you met at the bar has a history of violence, abuse, and/or criminal activity.

Of course, it isn’t that simple. Getting someone’s name and running it through a statewide records-check is not enough to keep you safe. What if he’s violent and has beaten 2 past girlfriends, but they were too scared to press charges? (Many women who have been abused are afraid of repercussions, so they never report the crimes committed against them.) What if he’s a child molester who hasn’t been caught? (The typical molester abuses 30-60 kids before he’s ever arrested.) What if he does have a record, but gave you his middle name, or a different name altogether?

As you can see, not showing up in a criminal search does not guarantee that an individual is a solid citizen and decent human being. So what can you do to protect yourself out there in today’s dating world? You need to tap into your “gut instinct”–and know what to look for. Does your new guy respect you? Does he lord over you, or honor your wish for personal space? Does he speak rudely to you? Ignore your boundaries, verbal or physical? Does he treat you like a queen out in public, but belittle you when you’re alone together?

These are all warning signs. The guy acting this way does not respect you, does not care about you as an individual, and has no interest in your needs or wishes. These are the techniques a criminal uses to test a new “subject,” to see how far he can go. If you allow him to get so close that it makes you uncomfortable, he realizes that “being polite” is more important to you than your own safety. He has found a victim he can work.

If he puts you down and you allow it, he understands that you won’t fight back when he escalates to more serious behavior. He can bide his time and mistreat you at his leisure. After all, it’s not like you’re going to defend yourself, right?

Or are you? You did the criminal records search. It came up clean, so you thought you had found a good man. Now that you’re finding out otherwise, it’s again time to take action. Lose the loser before you get in too deep. Throw this rotten fish back into the sea. If you feel physically threatened and aren’t sure how you would handle a confrontation, take a women’s self-defense class. Not only will you pick up a lot of useful skills for stopping The Bad Guy, but you’ll learn how to strengthen your boundaries and sharpen your instincts. And those are tools that will really help you in today’s dating world.

Pick a Card

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

You know those little cards you fill out and send in to get free stuff? “Tell us how you like our product and we’ll send you a free tee shirt/CD/sun catcher!”

It’s fun. The cards only take about a minute to fill out, and a few weeks after you send them off, a little gift shows up in your mailbox from that company, to thank you for helping them work out their marketing plans. I’ve gotten a couple of tee shirts and CDs this way myself–and am currently awaiting my first sun catcher.

All I want to say is… if you’re going to fill out the card, go ahead and send the thing off–preferably in a sealed envelope. Don’t leave it lying around the house, or you’ll miss out on your chance for free goodies. And don’t use it as a bookmark. Why?

A used book was recently purchased on Amazon.com. As the new owner flipped through the pages, he came across one of these cards–revealing a complete stranger’s personal information. He read the name, address, phone number, and age of the young woman who had owned the book previously. He also learned her favorites sports activities and preferred places to eat, drink, and go dancing with her friends.

Fortunately, this man was neither a stalker nor of some evil, criminal bent. He did not seek out the woman and terrorize her for her mistake simply because he knew where she lived. Unfortunately, he didn’t just tear the card up and throw it away, either. Instead, he photographed it and–with all her information clearly visible–posted it on the internet.

Now, millions of ‘net surfers around the world know her name, where she lives, and where she likes to go running and hang out with friends. The guy who posted her information didn’t exercise the best judgment in doing so. (In fact, I won’t argue with a friend of mine who called his actions careless and even downright stupid.) She’s going to have to do a lot of work to restore her privacy.

But you don’t. Your private business is nobody’s but yours. It’s fine to drop a card in the mail for a free sun-catcher. Just don’t let your personal stuff get exposed–you will get burned.

Sitting Duck

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

I was parked in a large lot yesterday, trying to help a friend into my car. (My friend needed the help because he currently has casts on his arm and leg from a skiing accident.)  A young woman, 20-something, had just entered the car parked next to mine on the passenger’s side. I waited for a moment for her to back up and drive away.

She sat.

Okay, no problem. I would roll my buddy up to the door and we would proceed from there.

I walked up the narrow space between my front passenger door and her driver’s side door, conscious to avoid startling her. I need not have worried; she never noticed I was there. She was busily balancing her checkbook and chatting on her phone. (In my mind’s eye, I could see police officers shaking their heads and rolling their eyes already. This behavior, much more popular with women than with men, drives them crazy.) There’s nothing wrong with connecting with friends or keeping track of personal finances. In fact, both are recommended. There are, however, safer places to do them than in one’s car in a parking lot in the middle of the day. I also noticed that her door was unlocked and her window was lowered several inches.

The combination of her ongoing discussion and her financial calculating made her extremely vulnerable to attack. And I was directly beside her, my fingers right next to the handle of her unlocked car door. How easy would it have been for someone to rip open that door and either pull her out or jump in on top of her?

Her cell phone would have done her no good; the person she was talking to might hear her scream in surprise, but that’s certainly not going to deter a rapist from carrying out his plans. Her checkbook, lying open on the seat? It spells out her full name, address, phone number, and possibly other private information(driver’s license, Social Security number?) that–if she thought about it–she would prefer strangers and Bad Guys not to know.

After a few semi-acrobatic and balancing moves, my friend was able to get into my car. I turned to look once more at the lady next to us. She continued to chat and scribble away on her paperwork, never seeming to notice us. Her window was still open and her door, still unlocked. I thought about dropping a note in to her through that window, advising her to take a women’s self-defense class–she certainly could use some tips to make herself safer in today’s world. But, I didn’t do it. I didn’t want to scare her.

“It’s So Great!”

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Upon finishing my most recent RAD Women’s Self-Defense class, I asked the participants what they thought. Had they gotten what they wanted from the class? Did they feel safer going out into the world? They responded that, yes, they had learned new ways of protecting themselves, and if they ever found themselves in a dangerous situation, they would be ready to do what they had to do.

My youngest student, a young woman of 17, said to me, “You know what’s really cool? It’s so great to find out what you can do!” During the class, she found out that she had not only the will, but the power and the ability to take down a male attacker much taller and heavier than herself, and to render him incapable of continuing his assault. She found out that, if she ever needs to, she can and defend herself successfully. She can fight for her life and win.

That knowledge alone makes her safer as she goes about her life. Why? Because muggers, rapists, and thugs of all kinds are experts at body language. They can spot a potential target from across a parking lot, or down a busy street. The person who’s looking down at their feet, who’s thinking, “Don’t anyone look at me; I don’t want any trouble,” is going to pull their attention. The one busily chatting on her cell phone, telling herself that it will keep her safe, is going to have him shaking his head and chuckling before he slips quietly behind her and grabs her. (And what will her friend on the other end of the phone do to “help” her at that point? Tell the police that he heard her scream and drop the phone.)

Then there’s the RAD woman who strides to her destination with purpose, looking at what’s happening around her. The one who’s thinking, “What if someone came from over there? What tools do I have available to fight with right now?” He’s going to stay away from that one–too much trouble. She’d see him coming and be able to provide the police with a description. She also might be ready to counter his best take-down move. He’d lose the element of surprise. If he can’t sneak up on her so she’s paralyzed with shock and fear, she’s liable to start yelling and attract attention. And that’s definitely not what he wants. Better to find a easy victim and leave the RAD chick alone.

Oh, The Places You’ll Go–and Everyone Will Know

Thursday, August 19th, 2010
Who. What. When. And Now Where

That’s Facebook’s ad for their new “service” called Places, available on the I-Phone and I-Touch. And they’re saying it like it’s a good thing. Please don’t be naive enough to believe themunless, of course, you want your home broken into, your personal space violated, and your valuable possessions stolen. If that’s the case, then by all means, post as frequently as you can on Places.

But first, allow me to de-construct the hype. Facebook wants you to take part in this latest self-invasion of privacy because it brings them lots of money. The more people they have posting on Places, the more advertisers they can lure and the more they can charge those advertisers. So, keep in mind that telling anyone on the ‘net where you are (and conversely, where you are not, such as your home) at any given moment does not offer any added convenience to your life. It doesn’t make you richer or more good-looking, and it certainly doesn’t make you smarter. What it can make you is a crime victim.

“Share where you are!” Facebook urges you to use Places to tell your friends that you’re at the “Best. Concert. Ever.And if they’re using the program, too, you can post back and forth to one another in real time. Or, you can put your phone away for a while and actually watch the Best. Concert. Ever.

“See exactly where your friends are at any time!” You can find out that Ryan’s at work… Steve’s at the gym… and Denise is having a filling replaced. Seriously, this sort of hot-off-the-presses info couldn’t wait ’til later?

“Find friends who are nearby and get together!” This feature might be vital for anyone who doesn’t have texting, IM, Twitter, email, or a phone. But that eliminates most, if not all, of your friends, and a large portion of the U.S. population.

People complain that we have “too much security” these days–video cameras in public spaces, recording everyday activities. “The government is getting carried away! It’s Big Brother all over again!” But these same folks think nothing about telling the entire internet who they are, where they live, and where they’re going to be at what time. Security cameras aren’t necessary to report their activities and whereabouts–they’re doing it themselves.

So, what can you do? Simply opt out of Places. Follow these step-by-step instructions to disable the program on your I-Phone or I-Touch:



Congratulations! You’ve just taken a big step in arming yourself against robbery, stalking, and other crimes that are made possible when personal information goes public.

She Did “Everything Right”

Monday, May 17th, 2010

A few days ago, I wrote about the attempted abduction of a woman in Chapel Hill, NC. The suspect grabbed her as she jogged along a busy street, at approximately 2 in the afternoon. Police investigators have reason to believe that the man charged in the crime may also be involved in other recent incidents, including the attempted kidnapping of two teenage girls and the severe beating of a woman still in Intensive Care.

The attacker had a shotgun and a baseball bat in his car, and a pack of condoms in his pocket. However, when asked by a reporter if women in the area should be worried, Lt. Kevin Gunter of the Chapel Hill Police Department said no: “This was a woman that was jogging in an area that is very well traveled with both pedestrians and vehicles, broad daylight. She absolutely did nothing wrong.”

No woman who has ever been or will be attacked does anything “wrong” to invite the attack. As a friend of mine said, “She could be sashaying naked through the woods at midnight! While not smart, it still doesn’t give anyone the right to attack her.” So, not doing anything wrong does not appear to be enough of a reassurance to women that they will stay safe.

Look at what the officer said: the victim was in a well-traveled area, with plenty of car and foot traffic. It was broad daylight. She was doing everything right. And look at what happened: she was grabbed by a man in front of several witnesses. He proceeded to drag her to his car, in which he had weapons. He is believed to have a history of violent crimes. If two bystanders hadn’t intervened in the kidnapping attempt, this jogger would likely have been raped and murdered by this man.

I think that’s more than enough grounds for women to be concerned–if not necessarily “worried”–for their safety. I know that the police see the worst of the worst when it comes to the evils that human beings can commit against one another. Perhaps Lt. Gunter believes all’s well that ends well, and with this man in custody for the time being, women need not worry about a threat to their well-being. My concern is that these women may not have paid attention to their safety before this happened–and then it happened. The very fact that things still happen, whether we’re prepared for them or not, seems reason enough to me to be prepared.

I’m not advocating living in fear, being afraid every time you go out, or burying your head in the sand when it comes to crime. I’m saying to get out there, take a self-defense class, and learn not only physical skills to use against an assault, but some new ideas on how to avoid being chosen as a target in the first place. Because, yeah, this guy is off the streets for now. But, what if someone else is waiting around the corner?