Tuesday, May 19, 2009

You Go Girl!

Great story of a 12 year old girl fighting back: http://www.pnwlocalnews.com/whidbey/wnt/news/45442782.html!

According to this article, the girl and her older sister were jogging in the evening. The older sister was ahead when a man emerged from the bushes and grabbed the younger girl. According to KIRO 7 news he grabbed her elbow and told her to "get in the car." She fought back, kicking him between his legs. He let go, and she ran.

The KIRO 7 news story interviewed their father about the incident. He was obviously relieved his daughter fought the assailant, and hoped other parents would teach their children how to defend themselves. Fact is, most women who fight back prevail.

That bears repeating: most women who fight back prevail.

It's worth learning how, and when, to fight.

Self-Protection Strategies for Women who Run

Again, another great post from Lynne Marie Wanamaker! This one's an article in a Western Massachusetts paper called The Republican/Girls Just Wanna Have Fun insert. I really like how Lynne Marie takes a really good look at your actual risks, and makes planning for your safety easy as putting on your running shoes. She's teaching this July at Special Training in Oberlin, and I'm looking forward to her classes!

I may have two karate black belts, but I am definitely a white-belt runner. But as a National Women's Martial Arts Federation-certified self-defense instructor, I do have a leg up on strategies for keeping safe when I run.

It's not that running is an especially dangerous activity. "Stranger-danger" is highly overblown -- most women are not attacked by a menacing stranger, but by someone she knows (often an intimate partner). Still, running can put us into vulnerable situations. By thinking ahead we can make workout choices to further reduce the chance of assault. And all runners -- male and female -- can plan ahead to avoid and survive injury and accident.

Here's my list of tips:

Be seen. Any time light is low-dawn, twilight, night, or inclement weather, reflective gear is de rigueur. This is one time that bilious phosphorescent yellow is a fashion "do." You will be more visible to motor vehicles, and more memorable to neighborhood folks.

Keep in touch. If your running route is not within shouting distance of populated areas, carry a cellphone.

Prepare to show ID. Order a snazzy runner's ID with your blood type and an inspirational quote -- or shove an old driver's license into your pocket. Either ensures that rescuers can locate loved ones if you are injured.

Leave an itinerary. Tell friends and family your favorite running routes, which one you'll be taking today, and when you should return. I was appalled to realize recently that my sweet darling -- a confirmed couch potato -- has no idea where I disappear to when I walk out the door with my Sauconys on. Now I leave my itinerary on the dining room table.

Use all of your senses. Save the iPod for the gym. Use your eyes, ears, nose and intuition to remain aware of your surroundings. Trust yourself if something looks, smells, or feels fishy.

Be heard. If someone approaches you in a way that feels unsafe, use your strong voice and declarative statements: "That's close enough," or "Tell me what you want." If they try to touch you or don't respect the limit you set, yell your fool-head off. Don't be afraid to make a scene in the service of keeping yourself safe.

Run. Always know where you are and where you can run for help. Save exploration of new trails for an afternoon hike with a group. When running alone, be sure you can sprint to a house or busy road. (If you experience an unexpected injury you will be glad that you don't have far to go to find help.)

Fight. It is my sincere wish for every woman reading this that you never have to fight an attacker. But if you do, go for the most vulnerable parts of his body: the eyes, nose, throat, and knees. Consider taking a self-defense class to learn simple, effective fighting techniques.

Tell. If you are attacked, seek help immediately for your physical and emotional well-being. It is never your fault that someone made the criminal choice to assault you. By alerting someone you trust, you can heal your body and mind and you may be able to prevent an assault on another woman.

Lynne Marie Wanamaker is an AFAA certified personal fitness trainer who creates and teaches customized exercise programs for adults who want to be stronger and live longer. For more information visit her online at www.compassionateconditioning.com.

Monday, May 04, 2009

How to Talk About Safety with Your Six-Year Old Daughter

My post of Feb 21 was about Lynn Marie Wanamaker's article on raising a strong-voiced girl. Lynn Marie has a way with words, and she's done it again. Lynn Marie has her own blog, and in this posting she winds her way to talking about how to talk safety with her young daughter (who is 6 years old). Here's an excerpt:
An episode of playground self-defense offered an opportunity to help Small listen to her instincts and step up to protect others this week. Yesterday Small and I were noodling around on the computer when she wrote this:

“I need help ceeping my friend Corey safe from Leo”

A lot of prodding led to this story: When Small and Corey run too close to Leo on the playground, he tells them, “Get away or I’ll kill you with a knife.”

Small said, “I think it’s a game because it’s fun.”

Then she said, “Corey is really scared.”

Then she said, “I’m not sure if it’s a game.”

Fortunately, we know Leo and his parents and we think he and they are pretty great. So we weren’t too worried about an impending playground massacre.

But the teaching moment was before us. My parenting instincts were clear:

And if you want to read the rest, click here. You'll go through a few paragraphs before getting to this story, but the journey is worth it.