Friday, October 26, 2007

Unsafe Safety Tips via E-mail

The following safety tips have been passed around via e-mail quite a bit. While I applaud the desire to help others, people have inadvertently passed on some misinformation. If you have received these original e-mails or e-mails like them please use caution in following the advice. When in doubt just use common sense.

E-mail #1-

1. Tip from Tae Kwon Do : The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do!

2. Learned this from a tourist guide in New Orleans .. If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM . Toss it away from you.... chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse than you, and he will go for the wallet/purse. RUN LIKE MAD IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!

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.

4. Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit (doing their checkbook, or making a list, etc.) DON'T DO THIS! The predator will be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get in on the passenger side, put a gun to your head, and tell you where to go. AS SOON AS YOU GET INTO YOUR CAR, LOCK THE DOORS AND LEAVE.

a. If someone is in the car with a gun to your head DO NOT DRIVE OFF, repeat: DO NOT DRIVE OFF! Instead gun the engine and speed into anything, wrecking the car. Your Air Bag will save you. If the person is in the back seat they will get the worst of it. As soon as the car crashes bail out and run. It is better than having them find your body in a remote location.

5. A few notes about getting into your car in a parking lot or parking garage:

A.) Be aware: look around you, look into your car, at the passenger side floor, and in the back seat.

B.) If you 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.

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. This is especially true at NIGHT!)

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, preferably in a zigzag pattern!

8. As women, we are always trying to be sympathetic: STOP! It may get you raped or killed. Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good-looking, well-educated man, who ALWAYS played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often asked "for help" into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when he abducted his next victim.

9. Another Safety Point: Someone just told me that her friend heard a crying baby on her porch the night before last, and she called the police because it was late and she thought it was weird. The police told her "Whatever you do, DO NOT open the door." The lady then said that it sounded like the baby had crawled near a window, and she was worried that it would crawl to the street and get run over. The policeman said, "We already have a unit on the way, whatever you do, D O NOT open the door."He told her that they think a serial killer has a baby's cry recorded and uses it to coax women out of their homes thinking that someone dropped off a baby.. He said they have not verified it , but have had several calls by women saying that they hear baby's cries outside their doors when they're home alone at night.

Please pass this on and DO NOT open the door for a crying baby ----This should be taken seriously because the Crying Baby theory was mentioned on America's Most Wanted this past Saturday when they profiled the serial killer in Louisiana.

I'd like you to forward this to all the women you know. It may save a life. A candle is not dimmed by lighting another candle. I was going to send this to the ladies only, but guys, if you love your mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, etc., you may want to pass it onto them, as well.

My Response To E-mail #1:

1. Tip from Tae Kwon Do: The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do!

Correction: While the elbow may be a strong tool it is also a tool that allows an attacker to get extremely close to you. Instead of using an elbow, use an open hand with the fingers curled forward (like holding a grapefruit) and slam it into the attacker's face, commonly referred to as a "face smash". This is a natural pushing movement that takes very little practice to effectively use. If an attacker gets inside the face smash then you can use an elbow technique aimed at the face and neck.

2. Learned this from a tourist guide in New Orleans .. If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM . Toss it away from you.... chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse than you, and he will go for the wallet/purse. RUN LIKE MAD IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!

Correction: This MAY work but a sudden movement may also get you shot or stabbed if the robber is jumpy or if he is a first-timer. I would suggest using common sense in your response to an armed robber and don't expect one strategy to work in all situations.

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.

Correction: While this is possible in late-model cars from the 70's and 80's it is less likely with newer vehicles. Instead of trying the impossible in new vehicles, attempt to find the safety release which is commonly installed in new models. If no luck there, try to find a tire-iron or any other item that might be used to pry the trunk open. Lastly, and most important- don't ever let anyone put you in a trunk in the first place!

6. ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. (Stairwells are horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot. This is especially true at NIGHT!)

Correction: Statistically, elevators are just as dangerous as stairs. In fact, an elevator represents a greater danger because the attacker can push the emergency stop button and trap you inside with him. Regardless of whether you use the elevator or stairs, ALWAYS be alert to what is going on around you and ALWAYS have an emergency action plan before you find yourself facing a potentially threatening situation.

E-mail #2-

Through a Rapist's Eyes (No Joke)

This is important information for females of ALL ages

When this was sent to me, I was told to forward it to my lady friends, but I forwarded it to most everyone in my address book. My men friends have female friends and this information is too important to miss someone.

Please pass it along

A group of rapists and date rapists in prison were interviewed on what they look for in a potential victim and here are some interesting facts:

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.

2) The second thing men look for is clothing. They will look for women whose clothing is easy to remove quickly . Many of them carry scissors around specifically to cut clothing.

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

4) Men are most likely to attack & rape in the early morning, between 5:00a.m.
and 8:30a.m.

5) The number one place women are abducted from/attacked is grocery store parking lots. Number two: i s office parking lots/garages. Number three: is public restrooms.

6) The thing about these men is that they are looking to grab a woman and quickly move her to another location where they don't have to worry about getting caught.

7) Only 2% said they carried weapons because rape carries a 3-5 year sentence but rape with a weapon is 15-20 years.

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.

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. 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.

10) Several defense mechanisms he taught us are: 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: "I can't believe it is so cold out here," "we're in for a bad winter." Now you've seen their face and could identify them in a line-up; you lose appeal as a target.

11) 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 afra id to fight back. Again, they are looking for an EASY target.

12) If you carry pepper spray (this instructor was a huge advocate of it and carries it with him wherever he goes) , yell I HAVE PEPPER SPRAY and holding it out will be a deterrent.

13) If someone grabs you , you can't beat them with strength but you can 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 VERY, VERY 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 hurts.

14) 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 a lot of trouble. Start causing trouble and he's out of there.

15) 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.

16) Of course the things we always hear still apply. Always be aware of your surroundings , take someone with you if you can and if you see any odd behavior, don't dismiss it, go with your instincts!!!

You may feel a little silly at the time, but you'd feel much worse if the guy really was trouble.

My Response to E-mail #2:

1) This is false. Hairstyle has absolutely nothing to do with the selection of a target. Statistically when at attack occurs is involves grabbing the victim's clothes,arms or neck, not her hair. A rapist generally chooses his target based on the victim's body language, behavior, or lack of awareness. To prove this all we need to do is research the number of reported rapes that have occurred over the past year or two and then correlate those with the victim's hairstyle.

2) Again this is false. Clothings isn't a factor and they don't usually carry scissors around with them. In fact that tip is totally contradictory. If they chose a victim based on clothes that are easy to remove why would they need scissors?

3) This one is fairly accurate. Victims are often chosen based on their lack of awareness.

4) Statistics like that are almost never accurate. While we know that the greatest percentage of rapes occur in the nighttime and early morning hours more actually occur in nighttime hours.

5) As far as I know there is no actual research to support this one. The truth is that stranger abductions do occur but they do so far less often than acquaintance assaults. Also, a quick analysis of abductions shows us that they can happen almost anywhere to include from the victim's home, public sidewalks, from a stopped vehicle, etc.

6) This one is somewhat accurate if the attacker is looking to sexually assault the victim, or worse. There are 2 crime scene locations...Location #1 is where the initial contact takes place. Crime scene #2 is where the bad things happen. If an attacker attempts to move a person to a secondary location we know the likelihood of it escalating is great. Therefore the intended victim must be prepared to deal with the situation at the initial contact point and not allow themselves to be moved to a more secluded area. However, keep in mind that if the initial contact takes place in a secluded location like the victim's home or a dark parking lot, that would be considered the second crime scene location.

7) Rape and weapon laws vary from state to state and jurisdiction to jurisdiction. That being the case I would never bet my life on the idea that an attacker isn't armed. The fact remains that anyone that has chosen to victimize others is breaking the law and it's a safe bet to assume they wouldn't be afraid of using any means to accomplish their objective, even using a weapon. However, with that said, statistically the majority of sexual assaults take place without the use of a weapon. This is based on the fact that attackers choose targets that are less likely to resist. In other words they choose a victim that won't fight back so they don't have to worry about using weapons. Although, that doesn't mean they aren't armed. The key is to avoid looking like an easy target!

8) Resistance is a good thing but it's no guarantee that the attacker will get discouraged and just give up. In fact, some attackers get off on women fighting back. The key is to know when, where, and how to apply resistance so that the likelihood of success is increased.

9) This one is also false. As stated targets are chosen based on body language, behaviors, and lack of awareness. If the target suits the selection process it doesn't matter what they are carrying. In fact, the more items the intended victim is carrying the easier the attack will be. In most cases even when armed with an improvised weapon like an umbrella, the person will not be mentally or physically prepared to use it as a weapon. Most times it doesn't even occur to the intended victim that they are holding a "weapon".

10) This one is applicable but depends on the situation. If the attacker has already selected you as his next target, it may not matter to him that you have seen his face. This is especially true if he doesn't plan to let you get away. It's definitely worth using but don't automatically assume it's guaranteed to work.

11) This is a basic common assertive response taught by self-defense instructors. It can be effective but also depends on the situation. If the initial contact takes place in a fairly secluded area there is a good chance it won't work.

12) Never...I repeat NEVER tell an attacker that you have pepper spray. Also, you want to avoid holding it out as a deterrent. Pepper Spray is only effective if it hits it's mark. If you warn an attacker that you have spray it provides him an opportunity to prepare himself. If you hold it out he can grab or deflect your arm, making the spray ineffective. He can protect his face with his hands or clothing as he rushes you, which reduces the effectiveness of the spray even if some of it hits his face. In some cases he may just take the shot to the face and keep coming. While pepper spray can be effective it is not guaranteed to stop an attacker. The key to making it effective is the element of surprise.

13) Please don't risk your life with the use of these lame pinching techniques. While these types of techniques work great in a controlled training environment, they tend to become ineffective when stress, adrenaline, anger, alcohol, drugs, etc become involved. The last time I checked these things are all common to real attacks. Instead focus on attacking vital areas such as the eyes or throat.

14) The groin is considered a secondary target and should not be thought of as a fight-stopping target. While there is a chance it will create a mild response in the majority of male attackers, that doesn't mean it will slow or stop them. I recommend that the groin be used in combination with the eyes and throat as mentioned previously.

15) Breaking a finger is definitely an option. However, don't be surprised if it doesn't stop or even slow the attacker. In fact, it may actually enrage him. When a finger is broken endorphins kick in and actually help to numb the injury. In other words, it may hurt for a short period but then becomes numb. If this person is intent on attacking you, it likely won't slow or stop them. The key to slowing or stopping an attack is by disrupting his computer, his brain. This can be done by attacking the eyes and throat as previously mentioned.

16) This one is right on. Awareness is the key to staying safe. If you have a solid understanding of awareness it's likely you will see an unsafe situation or person, allowing you to escape before it escalates to an actual attack.
Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Groin As A Target?

I recently purchased a short e-book on women's self-defense. Overall it had some good information but there is one section I found interesting..the subject was why kicking to the groin is a bad idea. While the title emphasizes the act of kicking the groin, the information that follows the title leads the reader to believe that the groin is overall a bad target.

Now before I get into this topic let me emphasize that the groin should be considered as a secondary target. In other words, it's not a fight-stopping target but does have some value which I am about to explain.

First of all I do agree that "kicking" the groin isn't a good idea. The reason is simple...kicking generally leaves the intended victim standing on only one foot, which in turn compromises balance. Given the explosive and chaotic nature of assaults, compromised balance isn't a good thing.

Now, the author of this e-book provides the following reasons for not targeting the groin-

1) small target
2) men are prepared for a strike to this area
3) generally causes a flinch protection response
4) position doesn't often allow targeting this area

To address the points-

1) In reality when targeting the groin, we not only target the testicles but the entire groin / bladder/ pelvis region. On most people, the groin / bladder / pelvis region is generally the size of a soccer ball. Personally, I consider something the size of a soccer ball to be pretty large. However, the author says it's a small target but then recommends targeting the femoral nerve on the inner thigh. While nerve strikes can be great, if they are hit properly, the problem is that we can't always hit them properly under the chaotic and stressful nature of combat. Why is that? Simple, because they are SMALL! So, in short the author actually recommends a target that is smaller then the groin. Personally, I would choose the groin. Everyone knows good and well where the groin is. It's generally pretty easy to hit, especially in close quarters and in many cases it can be hit without visual confirmation.

2) This is actually a misconception, especially in martial arts training. I remember my sister once attended a "self-defense " class conducted by a female Tae Kwon Do instructor. During the class the instructor tells the girls something to the effect of -

never kick an attacker in the groin because...he will most likely be wearing a cup!

To be blunt, that's the most absurd thing I have ever heard. Out of all of the years I spent studying sexual assaults on women I have yet to hear of one rapist wearing a cup to protect his groin. Most men who have endured wearing a cup in training know how uncomfortable and inconvenient those things are, especially for sexual situations.

Now, many instructors promote similar ideas, but as in the example above they are not realistic ideas. First off, most men aren't prepared to protect their groins because in most cases they don't believe there is a need to do so. Remember, predators choose victims that they believe won't offer resistance. That being the case, they are primarily in predator mode when they move in for an attack. In other words, defense is the last thing on their minds. Also, take into consideration that most contact sports like boxing and wrestling teach that strikes to the groin are illegal. This simply means that practitioners are conditioned to avoid targeting the groin and they are also conditioned to not worry about protecting this vital area. Also, if most attackers were prepared to protect their groins they wouldn't be so fast to expose this vital target during the act of sexual assault. So, to make this simple...most attackers are not prepared to protect their groins.

3) This is actually the point! In many cases instructors attempt to focus on the "one shot, one kill" philosophy. However, real altercations rarely go as planned and while it's possible to end an altercation with only one good shot, it's usually an exception to the norm. In other words, we should never rely on only one shot and hope that it creates a devastating effect. Instead we should attempt to overwhelm an attacker with multiple counters in order to effect them both physically and mentally, while attempting to make each counter as effective as possible.

In regards to the groin...while it's not considered a fight-stopping target it can be effective as a way to interrupt the OODA Loop, which can buy a split second to follow-up with more vicious tactics or to target more vital areas. In other words, when the attacker unconsciously flinches to protect the groin, this can create openings for other tactics. This is essentially Combat Strategy 101.

4) This may be true if we are talking about targeting the groin with kicks. However, if we think of other more sensible ways to target the groin, we quickly realize that in most real assault situations the groin is almost always within range of one of our tools. This is especially true during sexual assault situations. I have yet to hear about a sexual assault where the groin wasn't exposed in some fashion.

In closing, don't believe everything you read, even when the author claims to be an "expert". While they may have good reasons for what they promote, those reasons may not always reflect reality.
Saturday, June 30, 2007

Crime escalating, but who cares...

Assaults are increasing
Robberies are increasing
Rapes are increasing
Molestations are increasing
Abuse is increasing

Sounds like the typical crime rate in most large cities. The problem is, that is happening right here in my mid-sized community.

The saddest thing is that many people truly don't care. They don't care about their own safety nor do they care about the safety of their loved ones. This might be a bold statement but it's unfortunately true.

Almost 2 years ago a local pizza delivery driver was nearly beaten to death while attempting to deliver a pizza, or so he thought. The whole scenario was actually a set-up by two teens with nothing better to do. They ordered a pizza using a nearby gas-station phone and had it delivered to an unoccupied home on a not-so-well lit street. When the delivery driver got out of his unmarked vehicle one of the teens attacked him with a steel pipe, grabbed his cash and left him for dead. Later I contacted the pizza company and offered to train their delivery personnel free-of-charge. They wanted nothing to do with it.

Last year I contacted a nearby elementary school in order to offer them a no-cost child safety presentation for their children, but they just blew me off. Later this past school year a young girl was nearly abducted while leaving this very same school. The only thing that saved her was a bystander. When I contacted this school shortly after this abduction attempt, again they blew me off.

I have contacted my local community school system several times over the past couple of years and have been met with the same kind of resistance. In fact, the assistant super intendant even told me that academics were the priority and that they had no time for safety education. Recently, there was an arrest made of a man who molested two of the children that attend these local schools.

I contacted the school system approximately 30 minutes north of me earlier this year. Again, they blew me off. Last month a 16 year old girl that attended this school system was raped.

Over the past couple of years I have offered my services and programs to area realty companies, restaurants, convenience stores, mental health facilities, and even domestic violence services. To my surprise, few have had interest.

Now, some might think that I am taking this lack of interest personally because they don't accept me or my services, but that just isn't the case. Honestly, it doesn't matter to me where people get their safety education but it does matter that they do get educated somewhere. The problem with the lack of interest is that it actually leads to an increase in crime and violence, which has been pretty obvious in my community. When people don't care about their own safety or the safety of others they won't do or say anything to stop it. When no one says or does anything, what's likely to happen? You guest it...things get worse.

To quote Albert Einstein...

"The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of those that do evil, but because of those who watch it and let it happen."

My question to you is where do you stand??
Monday, June 25, 2007

Child Safety Still an Issue!

It's surprising that various child safety programs such as RAD Kids and similar programs are on the rise yet child safety is still a huge issue. The reason is simple, predators will continue to thrive and children will continue to go unprepared simply because many of the programs offered do not address the realities of such situations.

While safety education is of great importance we know that bad education is worse than no education at all. Simply put, these programs must be modified to reflect the realities of the world we live in so that children can be empowered with real knowledge to keep themselves safe from those who intend to do them harm.
Sunday, April 08, 2007

Force-On-Force Firearms Training: Paint-Marking Rounds VS Airsoft

Paint-marking rounds are a form of training ammo that is used by law enforcement, military, and security for realistic force-on-force firearm training exercises. These rounds are fired from real firearms that have temporarily been converted for such purposes. While this obviously increases the realism of the drills and exercises it also increases the risks of accidents and injuries.

Over the years there have been numerous deaths related to the use of paint-marking rounds rounds in their various forms. Most of the deaths were due to unsafe practices, such as allowing participants to bring live firearms and live rounds into the training area. In some cases participants were directly injured by the training rounds themselves. However, we know that in order for training to be street-effective it must be as real as possible while avoiding injuries and death. This is why paint-marking rounds and other similar products are so highly valued by reality-based trainers. However, there are other issues regarding the use of these types of products.

1) Paint-marking rounds are generally only available to law enforcement, military, and security personnel.
2) Paint-marking rounds can be very expensive at approximately $2 per round plus the cost of conversion kits for each firearm used.
3) Requires specialized protective gear that can also be costly.
4) Paint-marking rounds obviously involve some safety issues as mentioned above

All of these issues can be quite frustrating for the civilian trainer who wants to increase their defensive and tactical knowledge as well as their firearm handling skills. Although, thanks to modern technology we know have a solution- Airsoft.

Airsoft replicas have many advantages over paint-marking rounds and other similar products, to include:

1) Readily and easily available to everyone.
2) While the costs can vary depending on the type and quality of the gun, generally Airsoft are less expensive overall. Rounds average $3 per 500-1000 and can be used multiple times.
3) Minimal protective gear is required and it can generally be picked up at any sporting goods store that carries paintball or airsoft supplies.
4) Proper safety protocols are still a requirement for Airsoft training but are obviously minimized with the use of Airsoft replicas.

In short, Airsoft replicas now represent the safest and least expensive way to increase tactical and defensive firearm skills.

This training tool has been adopted by law enforcement and security officers around the globe. If it works so well for them, it obviously will work for the rest of us too.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Date Rape: A Serious Crime Of Power

By Darlene Redinger (Kosciusko County Mental Health Association)

When you read in the news that a woman was raped, what do you think of? Do you envision a stranger in a dark alley attacking an unknown female? Well, you couldn't be further from the truth.

The truth is, 80% or more of rapes are committed by an assailant known to the victim. RAPE is not a crime of passion, it's about power, control and anger.

The actual definition of rape is NO plus SEX equals rape. It's that simple. If the female says no and the male continues with sex, that is rape and it goes the same if the male says no. Date rape or acquaintance rape is the most common form of rape. Drugs and alcohol are contributing factors in many date rapes. Having sex with someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a crime, punishable by prison time! if a person is unable to say no due to drugs or alcohol, it is always rape.

Females ages 16 to 25 are most at risk of date or acquaintance rape. Experts state date rape may account for as much as 78% of all reported rapes, although rape is a hugely underreported crime.

Unlike rape involving a stranger, date rapists typically use psychological pressure or physical strength to press for sex, instead of weapons, or threats of violence. Rape is planned, hours or even days before the attack. Rapists frequently choose their victim and "groom" them. Grooming involves paying attention to a girl he normally would not spend time with, becoming friendly and attentive, until the right moment when the rapist is ready to act.

Date rape drugs like Rohypnol (roofies) and Gamma Butyrolactone (GHB) and Ketamine (street names: Special K or Vitamin K) are easy to obtain, cost very little, and have no taste, odor, or color. Additionally, they dissolve quickly and leave no trace. it is easy to palm the drug and drop it into an open drink as it is transferred from one person to another. The victim may not even realize he or she was given drugs! Under the influence of a date rape drug, the victim will do whatever they are told to do without complaint and won't remember a thing the next day!

A major cause of date rape is lack of consideration of a woman's rights and wishes. If she says, "NO", it means NO. Some men feel if they spend money on a date, they are "entitled" to sex or, if she is sexually active, she should have sex with him.

Some men are sexually aggressive because they are basically insecure. Forcing sex on someone makes them feel in control. Rape is violence toward women. Date rape is a serious crime and it involves a betrayal of trust. It's effects can leave lifetime emotional scars. As with all rapes, it is important for the victim to remember it is not her or his fault, no one asks or deserves to be raped.

How can you protect yourself from date rape? Examine your feelings about sex and make a decision about sex before you go out. Make your feelings clear, don't give mixed messages. If things get out of hand, don't be afraid to cause a scene, scream, yell and resist if you can and the person does not have a weapon. Socialize with people who share your values, go to parties in groups and keep an eye on your friends. set boundaries and enforce them.

When you are out on a date, never accept an open drink from anyone, always keep complete control over your drink. If you leave it unattended, get a fresh one. Trust your gut instinct, if you feel the situation is dangerous, get out. Never leave without the friends you came with. Don't leave group situations, keep an eye on the friends you came with and watch out for each other. If a friend is missing, find her. If a friend tells you she was raped, believe her.

If you or a friend is raped or you think you have been raped, do not shower, change clothes, brush your teeth or hair, eat or drink anything and do go to the hospital. If you think you might have been given a date rape drug, ask for blood tests to be run. No one asks or deserves to be raped.

Article courtesy of- The Paper. Reprinted with permission, from the October 27th, 2004 issue.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Fear in the eyes?

The following url is a link to an article on how fear is recognized in
the eyes. This might be another signal that predators subconsciously
use to select their victims.

Reflex Training for Self-defense

In order to learn effective self-defense skills it's important to have an understanding of motor-skill research. Essentially this helps us understand how the body responds to a given stimulus. This in turn helps us understand which techniques will most likely be effective under the stress of a real assault and which ones won't.

One aspect of motor-skill research is the understanding of reflexes, instinctive responses to an attack.

Motor-skill researcher, Richard Schmidt has broken the common reflexes down into 4 basic categories:

M1 Reflex
M2 Reflex
Triggered Reaction
M3 Reflex

M1 Reflex is the monosynaptic stretch reflex which occurs when a muscle is suddenly and unexpectedly placed under a load. This is the fastest known reflex. The knee-jerk reflex or patellar reflex(stretch reflex) is an M1 Reflex.

M2 Reflex is the polysynaptic functional stretch reflex. Because it includes more synapses and goes further up the spinal cord it's a bit slower than the M1 Reflex.

Triggered Reaction is slower than M1 & M2 Reflexes because it involves many more synapses. The cross-extensor reflex (withdrawal reflex) falls into this category. This is commonly seen when a person touches a hot stove, hits their thumb with a hammer, or stubs their toe on the door jam. Generally the stimulus is tactile in nature, such as something that causes pain. However, some sounds and some visual cues can also cause this reflex. This is seen when someone gets startled (jumps) during a loud sound or when someone sneaks up behind them and yells. It can also include someone sneaking up behind you and touching you suddenly. Generally, during a triggered reaction the hands will move toward the center of the body to instinctively protect the head and torso or they will move toward the site of the injury or away from the source of pain. Example, when touching a hot stove the burned hand moves away from the source (stove) toward the center of the body and the opposite hand meets it there while attempting to cover it (protect it). In the case of a car accident, the driver will have a tendency to convulsively lock the arms out in order to protect themselves from impacting the steering wheel, dash, or windshield. The passenger may bring the hands up to protect the head and torso or even reach for the dash or door in an effort to keep themselves from impacting the dashboard or windshield. Since most people have not been taught anything else they will usually fall back onto these general instinctive responses / reflexes.

All of the above reflexes are involuntary, meaning that occur without conscious thought. They are referred to as "simple reflexes" by some researchers.

M3 Reflex is a voluntary reaction-time reflex and is the slowest of the reflexes. This is referred to as a "conditioned reflex" by some researchers. For our purpose, this is the category that trained defensive or protective flinch responses fall into. Generally, the stimulus is visual in nature but can also be based on tactile or auditory cues. This could include seeing our car about to hit a tree or seeing another car about to crash into ours. In regards to self-defense it could include seeing a punch coming at our head or even seeing the attacker tensing his arm or making a fist prior to the attack. Essentially, we perceive the possible threat, identify it as an actual threat, and then activate a motor-program. However, in regards to self-defense this is where things get tricky. If we have tons of different motor-programs, say 10 defenses against a straight punch, 10 different defenses against a round punch, 10 different defenses against a knife attack, etc. etc. then it's going to take some extra time for us to choose the appropriate motor-program (response) for that particular attack. Also, if we have been training a bunch of unnatural blocking movements, we have the same problem. By the time the practitioner has actually chosen the appropriate blocking technique it's likely they will have already been hit by the attacker.

The key to real self-defense is to attempt to turn the M3 Reflexes into "automatic responses" which will essentially make them equivalent to Triggered Reactions. How do we do that? Simple! We train with natural gross-motor movements that are often activated during Triggered Reactions. We minimize our physical options and make those options applicable to dozens of different situations and different types of attacks. We train our brain to perceive and identify the threat sooner. Example, instead of waiting to see a punch coming at us before we respond, we should learn to identify
verbal and non-verbal cues that normally occur prior to the attack. Then we respond to those cues rather than an actual attack. We then train these basic responses over and over again through various adrenal / stress inoculation drills until they become spontaneous.

In most cases, if the skills are based on natural neuropathways they are generally easy to learn, easy to retain, and easy to use for the majority of average non- athletic individuals. Those who are athletic will have a definite advantage.

Copyright 2006 - Steve Zorn
Friday, February 02, 2007

Non-Physical Skills...Their Role In Self-Defense

While it's true that "self-defense" is offered in many martial arts schools and even some fitness facilities, we must ask ourselves if it's really self-defense that's being taught. Are the students of these schools and facilities really learning to protect themselves or are they just learning simplified martial arts under the disguise of "self-defense"?

I cannot honestly answer this question as it pertains to each and every facility making such claims, but what I can do is provide simple guidelines to help you, the reader, decide if your school or facility is teaching real self-defense or some fake imitation.

As previous articles have pointed out, there is a difference between martial arts and self-defense. While there may be some similarities in the physical applications between the two, this is generally where the similarities stop. Martial arts self-defense programs, what I refer to as traditional self-defense, generally over-emphasize the physical skills while under-emphasizing or even neglecting the psychological and analytical skills needed to deal with life-threatening situations. The belief is that it's the physical skills that determine the outcome of the altercation when, in fact, it's what the student does before the situation turns physical that will determine the ultimate outcome. While physical skills are vitally important, they are the least important of all real self-defense skills.

Self-defense is about staying out of harm's way. It's about learning to detect possible violent situations and dealing with them before they turn violent. Self-defense is NOT about letting someone physically assault you so you can, in turn, defend yourself. Once this is understood, self-defense can be approached in a direct and realistic manner.

So, what does real self-defense training consist of? That's the question I intend to address. The first step to answering this question involves analyzing violent situations and then reverse-engineering them. In other words, we must take a look at how violent situations occur in the first place so that we can learn how to prevent them from escalating to a physical level. Analyzing the situations in this manner can help us understand that there are so many more things we can do prior to using last-ditch physical skills. In other words, while physical skills are necessary, they should be used last and least.

Let's start from the beginning. How can we prevent potentially violent situations? That's easy, we AVOID such situations. To AVOID situations we must be AWARE of such situations before they happen. So, the first step to dealing with violent situations is using common-sense awareness & avoidance strategies. Ultimately, awareness leads to avoidance and avoidance leads to prevention. Understanding this is the key to real self-defense. If we are aware of potentially violent situations before they happen and we avoid those situations, it's highly unlikely that we would ever have to physically protect ourselves. In short, awareness strategies should form the foundation of any realistic self-defense program that is designed to protect lives. Any program neglecting this foundational area is not based on reality.

What about other necessary skills when awareness & avoidance fails? What about methods of escape? Obviously we don't live in a perfect world. While we may have excellent awareness & avoidance skills there is still a chance that we might find ourselves in potentially violent situations. Based on this fact, we must have a solid understanding of how and when to escape.

What about verbal and non-verbal de-escalation strategies? As we know, conflict resolution is about learning effective communication skills in order to successfully deal with conflict in our lives. Wouldn't potentially violent situations be considered an extreme form of personal conflict? This being the case, doesn't it make sense that we should first attempt to resolve such conflict in a non-violent manner if at all possible?

As we can see, there are many steps that can be taken to be aware of and ultimately avoid potentially violent situations. When those situations can not be avoided, there are still steps that we can take to avoid possible physical altercations. Simply put, physical survival skills should be used only as a last resort when all other options have been exhausted.

Don't be fooled by imitation "self-defense" systems that only teach physical skills and avoid or neglect the most important components of all, the non-physical skills. As I have pointed out, a system based solely on physical skills does not prepare the student for the realities of violent altercations. In fact, it does not provide the student with options and instead conditions them to rely on physical skills regardless of the level of threat.

If self-defense is truly the goal, I recommend that you search out an instructor or a system that offers a comprehensive program including an emphasis on non-physical skills. As our lives may someday depend on our training, we should make sure that our training provides us with the necessary skills to not only survive but to win!

Copyright© 2005, Steve Zorn - Personal Safety Unlimited

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Basics of Home Security

This article addresses some of the key issues regarding home security. A careful study of this material could make a big difference in how you think about the security of your home and family.

Home security and personal safety are very important topics that you need to know about whether you are a home owner or an apartment renter. You always want your home, your family and your belongings protected. In order to do that you will need to follow some specific security steps that will allow you to prevent any possible burglary attempt or to stop the one in progress. Your budget does play an important role in the selection of various home security products. However, there are products that are available for most budget levels. If you have a lot of money to spend, you may want to install a full blown security system that consists of many different security devices. But even with little money to spend you can still install a less costly basic security system and follow basic crime preventive measures.

Let's look at some of those basic preventative measures...

First of all you should make sure that the outer perimeter of your home is free of obtrusive landscaping or other items that might provide concealment for a burglar. While privacy fences do protect your privacy from prying eyes, they also provide burglars easy access to your home while being able to avoid detection from nearby neighbors or those passing by. Trees and shrubs can also work in the burglar's favor. Be sure to keep all shrubs properly trimmed and make sure that they don't block the view of doors, windows, etc.

The next step is to make sure that your doors and windows are locked when you are away from the house or during the night. The windows and doors should be strong enough to protect your home and should be installed with care in a professional manner. Your door and window locks need to be selected very carefully and should be very hard or impossible to pick. At the very least, each outer door should include a single-cylinder deadbolt lock. Windows usually present the most danger and should consist of a very strong glass. Regular glass can be broken very easy but there is a special reinforced glass that can be used instead. This type of glass will provide you with more protection and safety. If you have any glass doors in your house, you should definitely install the reinforced type of glass. You can also purchase sheets of protective film that can actually be placed directly over your existing windows to help reinforce them against breakage. Window locks are also important. Be sure that your windows have upgraded locks and I also suggest that you install "pegs" through the window frames.

The best advice is not to offer possible burglars easy access to your house in the first place. Many people have a bad habit of hiding their spare key somewhere near the door. It doesn't matter where the key is hidden: under the door mat, in the shed or at your work desk. If a burglar finds out where the key is, he or she will have instant access to your house. There are many ways for someone to discover your secret hiding place. They can simply see where you hide your key or the burglar may use a trial and error search method. The best idea is to never hide a spare key anywhere. You should also change the locks of your home immediately if you have lost your key or had your key stolen by someone. Good electronic locks can also provide an additional level of security but require you to keep your entrance code in secret at all times.

Speak to your neighbors about participating in a neighborhood watch program or starting one if there is no current watch program already in place. The neighborhood watch program is easy to start and will provide all the participants with so much more security. Your neighbors will be looking after your house and will notify you or police officials if there is a burglary attempt. Watch programs can also be a good preventive measure. There is less chance that a thief will try to break into the house located in an area with a neighborhood watch sign. The watch program is also very good for your personal safety since you are less likely to be attacked when your neighbors are watching after you.

The next step is to protect yourself in a case of a burglary attempt. You should have your phone near you all the times so you can call the local police department if you believe that you are in any type of danger. Have a backup supply of power to make sure that your security system does not stop working if the power is lost or shut off by the intruder. Have a motion detector light in front of your house so that you can see in advance if someone is approaching your house. This will provide you time to protect yourself and to call for help. Have a contact number of a neighbor that you trust and who you can contact in a case of an emergency. Make sure you have such things as a flashlight and some type of instruments to fix some basic problems. Access to a cell phone is always a big plus.

Copyright 2006 - Steve Zorn, Personal Safety Unlimited
Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Statistics Regarding Child Safety

A brief search of the internet will bring up the following general statistics regarding child safety...which supports the need for realistic educational safety programs.

*two-thirds of molestations and abductions are executed by people known to the children or the children's family!
*2000 children are reported missing every day!
*One child reported missing every 40 seconds!
*725,000 children reported missing every year in the U.S.!
*1 child in 42 will become missing!
*1 in 3 girls, and 1 in 7 boys will be molested at least once by age 18!
*Typical molestor will abuse 30-60 children before being convicted the first time!
*4 million child molestors reside in the U.S.!
*An average of 1 child molestor per each square residential mile!
*500,000 children are sexually abused each year!
*Youth 12-17 are two to three times more likely than adults to be the victims of an assault, robbery, or rape, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey!
*Nearly half of all rape victims are girls under the age of 18!

Don't let your children become statistics!

Steve Zorn, ICPS
Personal Safety Unlimited

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-27 years training in personal safety -Multiple martial arts black belts -Multiple instructor certifications -Certified law enforcement trainer -Crime Prevention Specialist -Previous self-defense trainer for one of the country's largest airlines -Child safety specialist -Certified Fitness Trainer -TACTIX Fitness Trainer -High Intensity Training Specialist -FAST Defense Instructor -Kid Escape Instructor
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