Over Thanksgiving break our very own Personal Safety Expert, David Nance, trained members of the Jaigermeister Girls and Golden Girls from the University of Missouri on risk reduction techniques and how to discourage potential threats. During this same class Martial Arts Instructor, Dave Blevins, also taught the girls some defensive hand-to-hand tactics, the importance of protecting oneself, and the commitment every individual must make to their personal safety. This was a very rich conversation, one that many young college-aged women could really benefit from.
Mr. Nance started the conversation by posing an interesting question "Which danger poses the greatest threat?" Did you know that you're 52 times more likely to experience violence than you are to be seriously injured in a car accident? Did you know that you're 229 times more likely to be violently assaulted than your house to catch fire? Did you know that you're 1000 times more likely to be killed or maimed in an attack than to die in a plane crash? Because of these ugly stats, it is imperative that college students have the tools and practical knowledge needed to develop a personal safety plan to protect themselves.
The first step in developing a safety plan is an understanding of the attacker's advantage. During an attack the criminal always knows his next move before the victim does. Hence, his actions will be faster than the victim's reactions. Because of this, the victim will want to avoid coming into close range with the attacker. In order to do this, a victim must understand the importance of keeping a safe distance and how to utilize Pepper Spray effectively. Mr. Nance taught the girls how to maintain a safe distance and ultimately escape to safety.
The next step is being able to recognize and deal with distraction techniques. Criminals use distraction techniques to distract, lure, or entice their victims. A criminal might pose himself as a lost tourist in need of directions or a stranded civilian who needs to make a call. Some might even use compliments like "you're beautiful, can I talk to you?" or kind gestures like "I can help you change your tire, do you need help?" to gain the trust of a victim before attacking. Mr. Nance taught the girls that it is totally acceptable to be rude or stand-offish in these scenarios, because every compliment or gesture may not be in good faith. So, when a stranger approaches, give him your grit face!
The final concept that Mr. Nance taught the young ladies was "Being a Hard Target and Walking Like a Supermodel". Hard Targets or "Giseles" are a criminal's biggest frustration, because these individuals are swaged out with confidence, attitude, and awareness. Their walk and demeanor just screams pizzazz and “don’t mess with me!” The qualities of a Hard Target or "Gisele" can help deter an attacker because he understands that this person is both mentally and physically prepared for a situation to go down. So always remember - when walking to class, to work, or to your dorm, walk like you’re walking down the runway – head up, shoulders back, and scanning the area. I bet a criminal will think twice about messing with you!
Following this discussion and training, many of the ladies felt more confident, prepared, and responsible for their personal safety! This was the most gratifying aspect of the experience for Mr. Nance. In order to help protect our students, we have to engage them in interactive safety awareness conversations and trainings like this one. The statistics show that they are necessary, and our feedback and results show they are effective.