January is National Self Defense Awareness Month, which puts focus on educating Americans on taking control of their personal surroundings regardless of circumstances. Increasingly, the national media is reporting shocking cases of personal attacks; such as the recent assault and murder in Little Rock of news anchor Anne Pressly and the missing persons case of Laura Garza, last seen leaving a New York City nightclub in the company of a registered sex offender. These tragedies remind the public that awareness is essential in self-protection.
“Most of us believe that crime is limited to large cities, or in certain areas and neighborhoods, but that is simply not the case,” says Damian Ross, lifelong martial artist, President of The Self Defense Company and the owner of The Self Defense Training Center in Pompton Lakes, NJ. “Home invasions and muggings are on the rise, and regular citizens need to practice simple strategies to avoid becoming an easy targets for petty crime and personal attacks.”
In honor of National Self Defense Awareness Month, Mr. Ross suggests the following simple self-defense strategies:
• Always trust your instinct. If your gut is telling you something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t (you’re more perceptive than you think). Take yourself to a public area and contact the authorities.
• Never trust your assailant. Criminals are cunning and can be extremely persuasive. They will most likely approach you in a friendly manner and appeal to your common senses. No matter what they say or how convincing they are, do not trust someone you do not know.
• Never leave the area. An attacker wants to isolate you. In order to do that, they will use force or any persuasive maneuver to convince you that going with them is in your best interest. Do not go - even when faced with an armed assailant. Put as much space between you and them, as fast as possible.
• Have car keys out of your pocket or pocketbook and in your hand. Remember where the car was parked and try not to be overloaded with packages. Beware of your surroundings.
• Play “hide and seek.” Pretend to look for someone who is hiding. This signals would-be predators that you are aware and not alone.
• Have 9-1-1 on speed dial. When you’re stressed, even simple tasks are difficult. Pressing one button instead of four can make all the difference. Today, most cell phones have this feature available, making it easy to get authorities on the phone with the touch of a button.
• Avoid being set up. Harmless questions such as, “Do you have the time?” “Do you have a cigarette?” or “Can you give me directions?” are designed to distract you and can lead to potential threats. Be polite, but keep moving.
• Carry pepper spray or a personal alarm. These can help in causing a distraction, allowing you to get away from an assailant and escape to safety.
An ounce of prevention is crucial. Here are more ways on how to plan ahead to ensure you never have to find your self in a desperate situation:
• Always take advantage of local safety services. Become familiar with your area’s police department. For students who live on college campuses, many offer escorts and shuttle services to and from dorms after hours.
• Study the neighborhood. Become familiar to the routes between your residence and the locations you visit in your daily schedule. Make note where emergency phones and police stations are located.
• Share your schedule. Let family and a network of close friends know your daily schedule. This creates a type of "buddy" system. Give network telephone numbers to your close family and friends.
• Report suspicious activity. The police can’t be everywhere; it’s up to you to help them do their job. If you see something that doesn’t look or feel right, or is out of place (i.e., like a person in a parked car, people loitering, or anything that causes you to look twice) it should be reported immediately.
About The Self Defense Company
The Self Defense Company has been providing conflict resolution since 1998. Military, Law Enforcement, and citizens alike have used our training programs. Founded by Damian Ross, The Self Defense Company is an organization dedicated to crime prevention and control through public awareness training programs. To find out more about Damian Ross, The Self Defense Company, or The Self Defense Company Global Network and Resource Group, please visit www.theselfdefenseco.com.
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Suzanne R. Anderson