Ten Things Every Woman Should Know about
By Darren and Beth Laur
Have you ever felt frightened or intimidated
when out walking alone? Have you ever wondered what you should
do if approached by an attacker? Have you ever worried about
becoming yet another home invasion statistic?
The sad reality is that we live in an
increasingly violent society in which the fear of crime is
ever-present. Personal safety has become an issue of importance
for everyone, but especially for women. Concerned about this
state of affairs, Sgt. Darren Laur and his wife Beth Laur began
teaching self-defense classes and safety seminars in 1993, and
have since reached thousands of women. The demand they saw for
reliable safety information, coupled with the need to debunk
widespread myths regarding self-defense measures, convinced the
two experts to write a book.
The following points are ten things that
every woman should know about personal safety, and are covered
in the Laurs' newly published book, Total Awareness: A Woman's
1. Awareness: Your First Line of Defense. Most people
think of kicks to the groin and blocking punches when they hear
the term "self-defense." However, true self-defense
begins long before any actual physical contact. The first, and
probably most important, component in self-defense is awareness:
awareness of yourself, your surroundings, and your potential
attacker's likely strategies.
The criminal's primary strategy is to use the
advantage of surprise. Studies have shown that criminals are
adept at choosing targets who appear to be unaware of what is
going on around them. By being aware of your surroundings and by
projecting a "force presence," many altercations which
are commonplace on the street can be avoided.
2. Use Your Sixth Sense. "Sixth
sense." "Gut instinct." Whatever you call it,
your intuition is a powerful subconscious insight into
situations and people. All of us, especially women, have this
gift, but very few of us pay attention to it. Learn to trust
this power and use it to your full advantage. Avoid a person or
a situation which does not "feel" safe--you're
3. Self-Defence Training. It is important
to evaluate the goals and practical usefulness of a women's
self-defense program before signing up. Here are two tips:
a) Avoid martial arts studios unless you
specifically wish to train in the traditional martial arts
techniques and are prepared for a long-term commitment. Many
women's self-defense programs teach watered-down martial arts
techniques that are complex and unrealistic under the stress of
an actual attack;
b) The self-defense program should include
simulated assaults, with a fully padded instructor in realistic
rape and attack scenarios, to allow you to practice what you've
4. Escape: Always Your Best Option. What
if the unthinkable happens? You are suddenly confronted by a
predator who demands that you go with him–be it in a car, or
into an alley, or a building. It would seem prudent to obey, but
you must never leave the primary crime scene. You are far more
likely to be killed or seriously injured if you go with the
predator than if you run away (even if he promises not to hurt
you). Run away, yell for help, throw a rock through a store or
car window--do whatever you can to attract attention. And if the
criminal is after your purse or other material items, throw them
one way while you run the other.
5. Your Right to Fight. Unfortunately, no
matter how diligently we practice awareness and avoidance
techniques, we may find ourselves in a physical confrontation.
Whether or not you have self-defense training, and no matter
what your age or physical condition, it is important to
understand that you CAN and SHOULD defend yourself physically.
You have both the moral and legal right to do so, even if the
attacker is only threatening you and hasn't struck first. Many
women worry that they will anger the attacker and get hurt worse
if they defend themselves, but statistics clearly show that your
odds of survival are far greater if you do fight back. Aim for
the eyes first and the groin second. Remember, though, to use
the element of surprise to your advantage--strike quickly, and
mean business. You may only get one chance.
6. Pepper Spray: Pros and Cons. Pepper
spray, like other self-defense aids, can be a useful tool.
However, it is important to understand that there can be
significant drawbacks to its use. For example, did you know that
it doesn't work on everyone? Surprisingly, 15-20% of people will
not be incapacitated even by a full-face spray. Also, if you're
carrying it in your purse, you will only waste time and alert
the attacker to your intentions while you fumble for it. Never
depend on any self-defense tool or weapon to stop an attacker.
Trust your body and your wits, which you can always depend on in
the event of an attack.
7. Home Invasions: A Crime on the Rise.
The primary way to prevent a home invasion is simply to never,
ever open your door unless you either are certain you know who's
on the other side or can verify that they have a legitimate
reason for being there (dressing up as a repair person or even
police officer is one trick criminals use). In the event that an
intruder breaks in while you're home, you should have a safe
room in your house to which you can retreat. Such a room should
be equipped with a strong door, deadbolt lock, phone (preferably
cell phone), and a can of pepper spray or fire extinguisher.
8. Avoiding Car-jacking. Lock all doors
and keep windows up when driving. Most car-jackings take place
when vehicles are stopped at intersections. The criminals
approach at a 45-degree angle (in the blind spot), and either
pull you out of the driver's seat or jump in the passenger's
9. A Travel Tip. Violent crimes against
women happen in the best and worst hotels around the world.
Predators may play the part of a hotel employee, push their way
through an open or unlocked door, or obtain a pass key to the
room. As with home safety, never open your door unless you are
certain the person on the other side is legitimate, and always
carry a door wedge with you when you travel. A wedge is often
stronger than the door it secures.
10. Safety in Cyberspace. Although the
Internet is educational and entertaining, it can also be full of
danger if one isn't careful. When communicating on-line, use a
nickname and always keep personal information such as home
address and phone number confidential. Instruct family members
to do the same. Keep current on security issues, frauds,
viruses, etc. by periodically referring to "The Police
Notebook" Internet Safety Page http://www.ou.edu/oupd/inetmenu.htm
and the FTC's website http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/menu-internet.htm.
For more detail on these and many other aspects
of personal safety, request the book at your local bookstore, or
order directly from Sono Nis Press: email firstname.lastname@example.org,
phone 250.598.7807, or FAX 250.598.7866.
Copyright Darren and Beth Laur, 1999
Never underestimate the power of prayer:
"The Lord will protect you and keep you safe from all
dangers. The Lord will protect you now and always wherever you
go." Psalm 121: 7-8
you are going to work with ritual abuse survivors, you
must also get educated if you want to be effective. And
you must learn to be humble. Trauma survivors do not need
to be around ignorant, modern-day Pharisees. Survivors in
pain need people who will connect with them on an
emotional level, get right down in there where they are,
and listen. --Kathleen Sullivan