Debunking Myths For Self Defense

The other night while cooking dinner M told me about an article she had read and wondered if the information in it was valid.

As a side note, I found this conversation extremely heartwarming because not only did M read the article, something she never would have done a few months back, she came to discuss it with me. While we have a very good relationship and excellent communication, she rarely if ever brings up the subject of self defense. It is discussed only when I initiate it

Back to the article. It was a somewhat flippant post on a blog that was linked through Pintrest. Most of the article I knew was bunk. Things like the way a woman looks or the types of clothes she wears have long since been proven to be false. Women of all shapes, sizes, hair colors, styles, ages, etc have been mugged, raped and murdered. However, the part of the article I was unsure about was where the crimes most often occur.

The article states that grocery store parking lots are most often the scene of the attacks. Clearly(if you have been reading me a while), you can see why that would be of particular interest to me.

I did some research on the internet and found a few older, out dated sites that seem to generically support that idea. They said things like “on the streets outside of commercial buildings”. However, I did not have a lot of confidence in the sources, so I emailed Greg Ellifritz and asked if he could shed any light or point me to some credible resources. I wanted to be able to give M the best possible information.

He sent a very detailed response.

I am going to copy and paste his entire email here. I realize many of you are aware of what is truth and what is myth about women being attacked, but many, many people do not. I think it is important to let women know that this article is full of false, misleading and potentially dangerous information. I also wanted to supply some more credible facts.

From Greg…

It’s almost completely untrue!  This started out as an email that made its rounds rapidly around the year 2003.  I’ve had students ask me a bout it almost every month since then.
1] The first thing men look for in a potential victim is hairstyle.
They are most likely to go after a woman with a ponytail, bun! , braid, or other hairstyle that can easily be grabbed. They are also likely to go after a woman with long hair. Women with short hair are not common targets.
No evidence of this in any piece of literature.  The only time I’ve seen hair pulls is in girl fights and domestic violence incidents.  I’ve never heard of a stranger attack that was initiated by a hair grab or pull.
 2] The second thing men look for is clothing. They will look for women who’s clothing is easy to remove quickly. Many of them carry scissors around to cut clothing
Not true.  Clothing may be a factor in some rapists’ justification (“she was dressed like a slut.  she wanted it”), but ease of removal is not a concern.  If so, hospital patients wearing gowns would be the most raped population in the world.  So would any medical professional wearing scrubs as a uniform.  They aren’t.

3] They also look for women using their cell phone, searching through their purse or doing other activities while walking because they are off guard and can be easily overpowered.

True
4] The number one place women are abducted from / attacked at is grocery store parking lots.
False.  Number one location is in or around the woman’s home.
6] Number three is public restrooms.
Really?  Wouldn’t a guy garner a little attention if he entered a woman’s restroom?
7] The thing about these men is that they are looking to grab a woman and quickly move her to a second location where they don’t have to worry about getting caught.
Possible, but only in a “stranger rape”.  Most rapists are people who are familiar to the victim and the rapes occur at the victim’s home.
 8] If you put up any kind of a fight at all, they get discouraged because it only takes a minute or two for them to realize that going after you isn’t worth it because it will be time-consuming.
Partially True
9] These men said they would not pick on women who have umbrellas,or other similar objects that can be used from a distance, in their hands.
No research supporting this.
 10] Keys are not a deterrent because you have to get really close to the attacker to use them as a weapon. So, the idea is to convince these guys you’re not worth it.
True.  Punching with keys doesn’t cause much damage and usually hurts the puncher as well.
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POINTS THAT WE SHOULD REMEMBER:

1] If someone is following behind you on a street or in a garage or with you in an elevator or stairwell, look them in the face and ask them a question, like what time is it, or make general small talk: can’t believe it is so cold out here, we’re in for a bad winter. Now that you’ve seen their faces and could identify them in a line- up, you lose appeal as a target.

Maybe, but no guarantee.  A better option is to be more forceful and direct in ordering him to get away.
 2] If someone is coming toward you, hold out your hands in front of you and yell Stop or Stay back! Most of the rapists this man talked to said they’d leave a woman alone if she yelled or showed that she would not be afraid to fight back. Again, they are looking for an EASY target.
Good advice…but most effective against strangers.
3] If you carry pepper spray (this instructor was a huge advocate of it and carries it with him wherever he goes,) yelling I HAVE PEPPER SPRAY and holding it out will be a deterrent.
No.  Keep it hidden until you use it.  If you pull it out and threaten me with it, I’ll cover my eyes, move in and take it from you.
 4] If someone grabs you, you can’t beat them with strength but you can do it by outsmarting them. If you are grabbed around the waist from behind, pinch the attacker either under the arm between the elbow and armpit or in the upper inner thigh – HARD. One woman in a class  this guy taught told him she used the underarm pinch on a guy who was trying to date rape her and was so upset she broke through the skin and tore out muscle strands the guy needed stitches. Try pinching yourself in those places as hard as you can stand it; it really hurts.
Doesn’t work if the rapist has a diminished pain response, is high, mentally ill, or drunk.
 5] After the initial hit, always go for the groin. I know from a particularly unfortunate experience that if you slap a guy’s parts it is extremely painful. You might think that you’ll anger the guy and make him want to hurt you more, but the thing these rapists told our
instructor is that they want a woman who will not cause him a lot of trouble. Start causing trouble, and he’s out of there.
Not a terrible target, but not the best either.  Go for eyes or throat.
6] When the guy puts his hands up to you, grab his first two fingers and bend them back as far as possible with as much pressure pushing down on them as possible. The instructor did it to me without using much pressure, and I ended up on my knees and both knuckles cracked audibly.
May work, but it depends on the situation
3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car: Kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy. The driver won’t see you but everybody else will. This has saved lives.
 Most current cars have an interior latch to open the trunk lid.  I’d use this first.
 b. If you! u are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars.
Completely false.
c. Look at the car parked on the driver’s side of your vehicle, and the passenger side. If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the mall, or work, and get a guard/policeman to walk you back out. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (And better paranoid than dead.)
6. ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. (Stairwells are horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot).
Generally good, but not always.  What if there is a creepy guy in the elevator?  I had a student who was raped in the elevator of her own office building.
7. If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS RUN! The predator will only hit you (a running target) 4 in 100 times; And even then, it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ. RUN!
 Good advice.  The stat isn’t perfect, but probably pretty close.

Homeschooling

When we lived in California we had a nightmare of a time with the schools. Awful teachers, awful curriculum, awful everything. We had just one child and more money so we tried a lot of different things to make it work. We changed from public to private school and  we even moved into an area with a better reputation for education, but nothing worked, so I eventually began homeschooling. I homeschooled our son all the way to college and our daughter to seventh grade.

After we adopted the 3 little ones from China and had cochlear implants put in to help them hear, we were advised to put them in school. With 5 kids at home and one military income, private school was not an option. I struggled, but eventually found it was a very good choice. They benefited greatly from the extra services and support.. My husband and I have been very happy with their teachers.

When our son left home and the 3 little ones entered school our middle daughter, M, decided she wanted to try public school. She has been very successful. National Junior Honor Society, Honor Roll, leads in plays and made elite singing groups. She is well liked and doing fine, but my husband and I just aren’t happy with the high schools here. She has asked a few times to come home because even though she is doing well she would prefer to be home.

I have resisted the idea because I don’t want to isolate her from the world or keep her from dealing with things she disagrees with, but neither my husband or I can continue to send her to a place that is so different than what we think and believe.

M will not be returning after Christmas. The little kids will stay where they are, so I can focus on M and keeping her up where she needs to be for college. We will probably higher a tutor for Latin. Once she is off to college, I will bring the 3 little ones home. Which will be about time for them to enter junior high, so a great transition spot.

With just one kiddo I will have plenty of time to do the traditional academic subjects as well as add in some shooting and other life skills. Virginia is ripe with wonderful field trip opportunities and resources. I found a great computer program to track her grades and prepare her transcripts in order for her to be able to enter a university if she chooses that option. I have always been a fan of 2 year colleges and then transferring to a university, but we will see what she decides.

So the AGirl clan is off on yet another adventure. Wish us luck!

P.S. Any tips, ideas, suggestions, please feel free to share.

Good Times

A few days ago Barron sent an email letting me know he would be in my neck of the woods and wondered if TSM and I would like to meet him and Old NFO for dinner. Unfortunately they planned to meet Monday which conflicted with my schedule, so I missed seeing Old NFO again. Fortunately Barron could meet us Tuesday.

Still not an easy task, but eventually we overcame all the obstacles and were able to make it up his way.

Dinner was yummy. Calamari, bisque and scallops! A very rare decadent meal. I am not a dessert person. Don’t like cake or pie or anything sticky and sweet, but I have a weakness for Creme Brûlée. In all honestly, I make the best in the world, so I rarely order it out. I am a bit of a snob when it comes this treat. The restaurant was nice giving me a false sense of confidence. In short…bluuuuuuck. The brûlée was less than impressive and the creme average. TSM ate his and mine. Barron advised that I begin to carry a mini torch to solve the problem. Sounded logical, so if you read a story about A Girl being politely escorted out of an upscale restaurant in Virginia for preparing her own dessert table side, you’ll know it was me.

Loved meeting Barron. The man has a story for everything. There wasn’t a single subject brought up that he didn’t respond…”Funny story about that…” And he was right. The story turned out to be a good one every time.

I have pictures, but I was too exhausted last night to plug my phone in, so just use your imagination. Picture food, friends, laughter, fun, fun, fun!!

I hope all of you are having as much living your life as I am living mine.

Do

I am a big, big advocate of training, but I am an even bigger advocate of learning and I am a ginormous advocate of doing.

Going to a training session of any kind is good. No matter your level, I think everyone can still benefit from training, but that training is a whole lot better if you do more than go through the motions. If one actually challenges oneself to learn and grow that is the key. Of course, the ultimate benefit is if one can implement the learning.

One way to learn is to look back at events and see what lessons can be gleaned. I also think re-looking at the same event time and time again is mighty helpful. Not obsessing, but revisiting a few months or even years later.

It was probably a year and half before I really was able to see the entirety of my attack. In the beginning I was to afraid to think about it. If an imagine or memory popped in my head then I immediately wiped it out and thought of anything else. I did a lot of busy “work” in those first few months. Distraction was the name of the game. After some training, my mind allowed me to see part of what happened. I saw the mugging from the point where the mugger was a foot from me and I would role play in my mind what I would do now should I be in that same situation.  It was nearly a year before my mind would let me see that there was much I could have done to avoid that situation and it was probably 6 more months before I could calmly, without fear or emotion play the entire thing in my mind. I either didn’t remember things or let my mind protect me from what I could not yet handle. Now, I will admit, I rarely revisit that particular event on purpose, but from time to time I force myself. I remember the first time I consciously thought about that day. It was after a training I took in Tennessee with Kathy Jackson.

She had been speaking about situational awareness and she was demonstrating telling a bad guy to STOP! GET BACK! I became very emotional and wasn’t exactly sure why (In those early days my emotions would sneak up on me). It was literally the very first time I saw that there were things I could have done to put myself in a better situation. Once I got on the plane to come home I closed my eyes and let my mind see the event from a broader view. Instead of him right up on me, I saw him from way across the parking lot. I let myself admit that from the second I saw him, I knew he was a bad guy. I let myself feel the nothingness that I felt that day. There was no fear, no tunnel vision, no racing pulse, no desire to fight. There was only a calm,  almost a resolve to accept my fate. I didn’t even get scared until I got home and crawled into bed later that night. I was shaken, but not until I actually realized what happened and what could have happened did I “freak” out. But, I remember saying how scared I was when I was on the ground. I think I had to believe that because if I didn’t I would have had to face my own poor choices and I was definitely not ready do that. The day on the plane was truly the first time I realized that I didn’t act on my instincts and that there was plenty of distance to have done so.

That bit of information was huge for me. Having the, courage isn’t the right word, having the…well, taking the time to see the event as it actually happened helped me see the huge need to focus on my mind set and on actively overcoming years of conditioning to not fight. If you read the blog back then, then you are patently aware of what a very difficult struggle that was.

My inability to get mad, to be mean, to cuss, was extremely frustrating and actively working on overcoming that thinking was one of the hardest things I have ever done.

The desire to train was the first step, but my desire to truly learn is what allowed me to see the gaps in my preparedness and my utter resolve to never ever again be a willing victim in my own attack is what prompted me to implement those lessons and to continue to do so.

I love to train. I don’t care if it is a shooting course or knife fighting or doing combatives. I just love being with others and actually doing the drills. Now, I realize that training is time consuming and pricey, but I am here to say…

Not. An. Excuse.

There are tons and tons of things we can do for free, dare I say daily to help prepare us to be better, more effective stewards of our own safety.

This week I read two blog post. The first one is at Active Response Training. Greg highlights some lessons that can be learned from officer shootings. Really good info. I have not had a chance to read the report myself, but you can bet, 100% that I will.

The other one was over at The GunDivas. This post is so sad to me because it highlights the overwhelming culture we have of victim mind set. I said it before, my thinking and actions were not unique. There are more folks that think like I did then, than think like I do now. People everywhere, men and women think there is a magic force field or condom with teeth that will save the day, but usually that is not the case. If you believe I am wrong then why don’t we have more dead bad guys in cemeteries then we do very alive ones in jails or on parole? The headlines should read, “Another one bites the dust” instead of “Victim of rape set to testify at trail.”

I will give you that sometimes there is. Sometimes a completely untrained frail old lady picks up a .22, shoots blindly one time and the bad guy drops dead. Sometimes the tiny little college girl fights like hell and for whatever reason the bad guy flees. Sometime a mother is lying on her back in a grocery store parking lot and 2 cars pull up, but what about when there is no savior? What about when you truly are the only solution to the problem?

Now is the time to train, to learn, to do.

Blessed

What a glorious long weekend we had. Thanksgiving was absolutely perfect. Our son, his wife and their superbly perfect daughter came and spent the day. Our DIL is an extremely skilled shopper. She can make a dollar stretch farther than anyone I have seen and she loves it. She offered to pick up a few items for me on her annual Black Friday outing. I gladly handed over my ATM card and a list. I can’t believe all the goodies she brought home.

Our little(well, not so little) family spent Friday morning cooking and preparing for a very special guest. A fine gentleman who reads this blog(comments as TC) emailed me to let me know he would be visiting Virginia. Yeah!!! We have been chit chatting for months and months and unfortunately I had to cancel a chance to meet him back in October, so I was thrilled to get another shot(pun totally intended) As it worked out, he agreed to come to our home. I got to cook some vittles and introduce him to Jayne, E, TSM, well the whole gang actually. This Internet thing is oddly wonderful. Even though I have never seen TC, our friendship has been slowly building as we share our thoughts and feelings on guns, the world, life…Neat to get to interact with people I would never had a chance to meet otherwise.

TC is a delight. Both TSM and I had such a great time talking in person about guns, politics, life plus food and fellow bloggers. Don’t worry it was all good.

Friday night we put up the Christmas decorations, listened to Christmas music, and watch Elf. It was a sticky, sweet day right out of a cheesy made for TV movie. Loved every second of it.

The rest of the weekend was a little of this a little of that. Studied EMT to include a 75 page worksheet packet that took 2 hours to do. Also played endless games of Yahtzee with E, cooked a ton of food and even got to watch 30 minutes of football which might not seem like a lot, but its a record in this house. Oh and did a Native American Project with A.

Well, I didn’t do the project. I cook, clean, iron, play games, do homework, read stories, shoot, run errands, but I don’t do crafts. I can do them, but I suck. M on the other hand is quite talented and the kids love when she helps them, so I let her.

We did have a little drama when our youngest son came hobbling up to us. He had climbed a tree and fell. He seemed fine, no scratches, no bleeding, hips were aligned, didn’t hit his head, so we gave him Tylenol and iced it. In a few minutes he was up running around again. Two days later, just as we were getting ready to head out for family pics, he screams in pain and can’t walk. We check him out again. Nothing seems out of place, but he isn’t a complainer and he is clearly in pain, so we cancel the photo shoot. We debate taking him to the ER, but that doesn’t sound fun and we didn’t feel he was in any danger, so we switched to heat and Motirn and spoiled him for the day. This morning TSM took him to our doctor and all is well. Nothing broken. Just a good bit of bruising on his hip and whatnot.

Here are a few pics…

Wesson sleeping under his Christmas Wreath.

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Sweet corn chowder with smokey bacon.

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The kids eating mini egg soufflés and yogurt parfait.

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After a fun, relaxing, but busy weekend, my hubby sent me to bed while he turned off all the Christmas lights. When I got upstairs, I found freshly washed linen on our bed with the covers pulled back for me.

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Blessed I say.

Happy Thanksgiving

I love this time of year. Our family has a ton of traditions and we all look forward to them. Its funny how my kids made fun of me for being a stickler about doing the same things every year, but when we didn’t do them for one reason or another, they were bummed. Some of the things we do…we always eat the same meal, but add one new item to try. We always set up our tree on the Friday after Thanksgiving. We never listen to or watch Christmas movies/music before Turkey Day. We make our first batch of homemade eggnog(the only kind we like) while doing the tree.  And we always reflect on the year that passed and truly take time to be thankful.

I am thankful for all the men and women who have fought to secure our freedoms.

I am thankful for all the neat opportunities I have had this year.

I am thankful for a very cool job where I meet very cool people.

i am thankful for friends, new and old.

I am thankful for my daughter in law who takes a huge chunk of time out of her life every week to take care of my little kiddos, so TSM and I can do EMT.

I am thankful that I get to meet a new friend and his friends on Friday.

I am thankful TSM has a good job.

I am really thankful my family is healthy, safe and all together.

I am thankful TSM is so sexy and that he picked me to hang with for the last 22 years.

I am thankful I can buy and shoot guns.

I am thankful for all of you. I do appreciate you advice, support, humor, understanding and just for coming here and sharing part of your lives with me.

May you all have a very blessed day!!!  HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

She’s Baaaaaaack!

Well she never really left. She has always been reading and she and I talk regularly, but there is some cool news on her.

Who??? Mrs. Groundhog, that’s who. For those of you who have been around a while you will remember she was the very first AGirl Give-A-Way winner. At the time she was very unsure around guns. Since then she has used the money to get gun training and in the course of doing so has gained so much more.

Yesterday I received a sweet note from her…

I have been quoted in a blog. You continue to teach other women through the gift of your first contest. The woman and the shooter that I was back in Feb. when I won the contest could have never written this. Thank you once again.  And most of all thank you for your friendship. Enjoy the blog post.

Go read the blog she is talking about. I think you will enjoy it!