Self-defense, part 2 – weapon of choice

This is the last in my eight-part series on personal safety. What makes me any kind of authority? My father, Ralph E. Clarke, Jr., was an authority who researched and authored books on this topic and drummed this information into the heads of his three teenage daughters in hopes of keeping us safe.

Different states have wildly varying laws when it comes to what you can carry to defend This Oneyourself. Obviously carrying a firearm comes with all sorts of rules and regulations and red tape, and this is a good thing. Too bad, though, that criminals and dangerously unstable people seem to be able to get a-hold of them so easily. If you want to carry a Taser, extenuating circumstances allowing special clearance and permitting needed. Certain types of knifes are also illegal. But a Swiss Army Knife, especially if it includes a corkscrew, could save your life in more than one type of situation.

We often hear that carrying pepper spray or mace is a smart thing for a woman to carry. In most parts of the country, it’s fine to be armed with these products to ward off a potential attack. But be aware of local regulations: In some areas (Illinois, Chicago included), one must be at least 18 years of age to legally carry pepper spray.

Carry other things on your person that you can get to in a jiffy (not by digging in the bottom of your purse) if necessary including tactical flashlights (that can be used not only to blind your opponent but use as a weapon on them as well if big enough), noise makers (air horns are great, but be aware: they’re painfully loud so make sure to aim it away from your own head) and police whistles (also illegal to use in some locations and certainly illegal in many places to use indiscriminately – that is, unless really needed at a time of danger).

Here’s an interesting tidbit: Only a very small number of captured rapists are armed. Rape generally carries a lesser sentence, but rape with a weapon can get someone thrown in the slammer for decades. This works in our favor

If you look like you’re going to be a force to be reckoned with, you stand a better chance of averting attack. Attackers have admitted when interviewed that they will usually avoid women carrying long pointed umbrellas or other similar objects that can be seen clearly from a ways off. They are out scoping for easy prey and if that doesn’t look like you, it’s likely they’ll keep their distance.

If you’re in a remote area, high-crime neighborhood or out after dark, it’s a good idea to have your weapon of choice (i.e., pepper spray) in hand and ready to use. Just remember that anything you can use as a weapon can also be turned against you, so stay out of arm’s reach and in control and don’t let that happen!

If someone is coming right at you, toward you, no matter how small and feminine you are, this is the time to get tough. Hold up your hands and yell “Stop!” or “Stay back!” Many would-be attackers don’t want your kind of trouble. They’re looking for a quick and easy mark, not someone who is going to give them trouble.

Even better, hold out your pepper spray or weapon of choice and shout in a loud serious tone, “I have pepper spray and I will use it!” What if you find yourself out and about and don’t happen to have a self-defense product with you? Pretend! The aggressor will probably not know the difference. Even a squirt gun can look menacing, especially at a distance and in the dark. If possible, do not shake and moderate your voice likewise. Let the pest know you mean business and you will hurt him or her if he or she tries to hurt you.

  • Any of the following that you might have in your purse or briefcase at any given time can be used as a weapon:
    • Pencil or pen
    • Nail file (the metal ones with a sharp end)
    • Tweezers (especially the ones with a sharp end)
    • Cuticle clippers
    • Pin (the longer and bigger the better)
    • Hair spray (to be sprayed directly into your assailant’s eyes)
  • Poke your umbrella [point, although most of them don’t have points as they once did] as if it’s a sword into the midsection or any soft area of your opponent’s body
  • Some people used to say keys were a good deterrent, but you have to be way too close to an assailant to use them as a weapon. However, if that’s all you’ve got, use them if it comes to that. Hold them concealed in your hand enough so that the assailant might think you’re holding a gun; don’t let him see that they’re merely your set of keys.

Look at these pictures to ready yourself psychologically to get tough against victimization. And consider getting the book “100 Deadly Skills,” a book my father gave to me in which I learned how to disarm an armed attacker. If you’re the one brandishing a weapon for your own protection, you also must be aware of how your assailant might try to disarm you so you could prevent that. Whatever you do, don’t let an enemy get too close to you while you’re holding a weapon.

Remember this: If you protest like you’re mad and act like you’re ready to fight, this can scare off an assailant. It won’t take long to get your point across, and let’s hope they scat. Then call the police immediately while getting yourself quickly to the nearest safe location.

Coming up: Posts on fun summer stuff to do! Follow by Blog to stay informed on what’s happening, especially in Chicago, so you can make the most of summertime. In the box on the right, insert an email address then click on the Follow button. You’ll get an email from WordPress asking you to confirm your subscription. Click on the link they send – and that’s the only thing they’ll ever send you — no spam — only my articles, hot off the press. Life is exciting; let’s jump in with both feet!


Walk safely, part 1 – preparation

In my previous post, I tiptoed around the topic of Chicago crime. Whether or not you decide to visit this awesome city – and certainly if you live here — it’s always smart to play it safe. In fact, whether you live in a big dangerous city, quiet suburbia or a peaceful remote location, personal safety should play a part in your daily life.

My father, Ralph E. Clarke, Jr., was very security-conscious, especially of his three daughters, and wrote a book called “Be Safe, Girl” that contains self-protection advice for girls, women and anybody. Not simply because I am his daughter, but because the book is very practical – and potentially life-saving — I feel it should be in every household, especially one with young ladies.

In this post, the first in a series on walking safely, are some of the lessons I learned, mostly from my father, to stay safe or, if necessary, escape harm. Chicago is a great city for walking, so whether you live here or come for a visit, read on and walk smart. It starts before you even venture out to walk:

  • Obviously, it’s best to be out in daylight rather than after dark.
  • Plan your route – and vary it, as well as your schedule — even for routine journeys such as to and from work.
  • Tell a friend or family member where you’re going, your itinerary, expected time of arrival; keep numbers handy so you can keep them updated, and make sure they have your number.
  • Do not go off with someone mysterious; make sure someone knows whom you’re with, including the full name and as much data as possible, (phone #, city of residence, place of work, etc). If you’re with a newcomer in your life, a relative stranger, let that person know that others know whom you’re with and when you’re expected to resurface.
  • Even better, travel with a pal when feasible. “There is safety in numbers.” (Ralph E. Clarke, Jr., “Be Safe Girl,” p. 3)
  • Wear colors that repel being approached on the street. Black and yellow is the best color combination for this purpose, just as in nature where most critters that are black and yellow are dangerous. Also, warning signs are often black and yellow. You might, for example, wear a black coat with yellow accessories.
  • Wear shoes in which you can walk comfortably or run if necessary, and make sure your footgear is weather appropriate for stealth get-aways.
  • Consider investing in props that can protect you:
    • A flashlight can not only help you see in the dark, it can be used as a self-defense tool. If you don’t already carry one, you probably should. Latest models come small and compact and can double as a self-defense tool by blinding an attacker and more.
    • An air horn makes a really loud noise that would surprise and hopefully shoo off an attacker and will definitely attract attention from others in the vicinity who could help. There are air horn apps for your device in lieu of carrying an air horn.
    • Consider wearing a police-quality whistle; these are loud enough to be heard for blocks. When utilized, a thug will hopefully run away as you draw attention from people nearby.
    • Pepper spray, mace and even concealed weapons might be a good idea – or not: Realize anything you can use on an attacker can be turned against you; if the attacker gets the better of you, you could be the victim of your own devices; consider this cautiously.
  • Use the toilet before you depart so you can avoid using public facilities, especially at night.

Walk with a Pal

If you walk often, and especially if you walk at night or in questionable neighborhoods, learn some self-defense tactics or even take a self-defense class. More about this in an upcoming post.

Be smart: Walk wisely,
so you can walk through life with the confidence that you can go out in the world and be safe.