Fear and Self Defense were the topics of December’s Circle. Gemini and Bunny facilitated for us.
Gemini took several self-defense classes a couple years ago and it greatly helped her anxiety, among other things. With permission from both Gemini and Bunny, I totally “copy &pasted” the following from Bunny’s website :
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“My sister Gemini has taken a lot of self defense classes and has compiled this list of self defense and safety info and has generously agreed to allow me to share this information with you! It is especially helpful for models who frequently travel alone.
Let’s talk about self-defense. Let’s talk about being aware of your surroundings. Let’s talk about not being an easy target. We all know there are creeps and perverts out there. Some of us know this more intimately than others. I want to go over some things with you that I have learned in the last 6-8 months attending self-defense classes and police and public safety seminars that will help you think like an attacker. If you learn to think like they think, you will learn how to avoid getting yourself in situations where you might actually encounter an attacker.
When you walk alone, you are vulnerable. When you look lost and confused, you are vulnerable. When you stare down at your phone and become completely distracted and unaware of your surroundings, you are vulnerable.
Attackers look for easy targets. If you walk around looking confident, acting like you know where you are going (even if you are completely lost and freaking out on the inside) they are less likely to approach you. They can’t read your mind and know that you are lost and scared, they see a strong confident person on their way to meet friends.
NEVER WEAR HEADPHONES IN BOTH EARS WHILE WALKING/JOGGING!!! I can’t stress this enough. It’s best not to wear them at all if you are exercising out in public alone and not in a gym. Attackers love the element of surprise that knocks their victim off their game. Music blasting in both of your ears takes away one of your senses. You can’t hear someone walk up behind you. Don’t make yourself vulnerable to an attack. Be smart!
ALWAYS KEEP YOUR HEAD ON A SWIVEL: Be aware of your surroundings. Constantly keep your head on a swivel. Take note of people walking alongside you on the street, especially behind you. Check doorways and alleyways as you come up to them and walk past. Take note of parked cars along the side of the street; is anyone sitting inside the car? Is it a big van with a side door? Snatch and grabs happen easily this way. Be prepared, be aware! (I personally try to walk in the middle of the sidewalk, not too close to the cars or storefronts, especially if I’m walking alone at night.)
PARKING: Park in a well lit area, under a street light is preferred. Before leaving the venue, get your keys ready. Keys are a great weapon! Hold a key in your dominant hand between your middle and pointer finger so when you make a fist, the key sticks out on top. BOOM! You now have a weapon! If you stand by your car fumbling in your bag for keys, you are an easy target for an attacker; you’re distracted and out in the open with no protection. Keep your head on a swivel, check the cars around you; is anyone crouching down behind/between cars? Is there someone sitting in the car next to yours? If so, do not turn your back to this person! If you can, go back inside and wait a few minutes. Go to the bathroom (if you just went to the bathroom and feel silly going back inside asking for the bathroom again, say you forgot your lip gloss or something), do something else. It might seem silly, and odds are, the person sitting in their car is harmless, but it’s better to be safe than sorry… it’s better to be safe than kidnapped… it’s better to be safe than end up dead. Check your car, check the back seats while you unlock the door. Lock your car door immediately once you are inside (before you set your bags down and settle into your seat and adjust the mirrors).
Make potential attackers uncomfortable: Look people in the eye in passing. Chat with them, engage in small talk. If an attacker knows that you could potentially identify them in a line-up, they are much less likely to target you. Attackers don’t want to be identified. They want to get in and get out unnoticed. They don’t want to cause a scene and draw attention. Point out their rad tattoos, comment on their cool army boots, point out their shirt logo… Notice them.
Clothing, accessories, and hairstyle choices: As models, you often lug around a lot of bags, purses, and other gear. Something to think about: the more things you have on, the more places and things someone has to grab and hold onto. Tight fitting clothes are best. Carrying less bags, or no bags at all, is best. Ponytails are easier to grab than other hairstyles and allow the attacker to take control of you. Scarves and other things around your neck can be hazardous. Heels also make you vulnerable; if you have to run, kick them off, leave them behind, and run! Your life is more important than any of your fashion accessories!
Being Attacked- First Response: If you are attacked, your first response should be screaming, yelling “STOP” yell anything you think of. Cause a scene and put up a fight. This will deter the attacker because you are drawing attention by making loud noises. If you put up a fight, they will likely leave you alone and get away because you are not making it easy enough on them and you are drawing attention. They look for people who will be easy targets, don’t make it easy for them! Yell “FIRE”, “HELP, MY BABY”, or “MY BABY IS ON FIRE” if the attacker is successful at apprehending you. These phrases are sure to draw attention from on-lookers and passerby’s.
LEARN SELF-DEFENSE!!! I cannot tell you how important this is. Your body is a weapon. Your life is worth protecting and you have the power to protect yourself! As women, AFAB, or people assumed to be women, we are taught at a young age that we are delicate. That we should not raise our voices or do certain things on our own. Well, FUCK THAT SHIT! We can do anything! We can raise our voices, be loud, and be heard. Taking self-defense classes changed my life. I have more confidence now than I have ever had in my life. I feel safe by myself. I feel more comfortable in my own skin. My severe anxiety has gone down quite drastically since I learned how to defend myself. I strongly encourage you to take a self-defense course. Find somewhere to take self-defense classes. Surprisingly, a lot of places offer free or very cheap self-defense classes to ladies/AFABs. Take your friends, your family, hell, I took my co-worker with me to self-defense class a few times. It is worth your time, attention, money, and energy!
PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE!
It is not enough to just watch self-defense videos online and attend a few classes. YOU MUST PRACTICE! Practice moves with a TRUSTED person. You only perfect the moves if you practice them. Some of the moves are easy, others require more skill and finesse.
Remember: there is no such thing as a “cheap shot.” If you are threatened and someone is attacking you, do anything you can to get away. Gouge their eyes out with your keys, punch, kick, knee them in the balls, bite them, karate chop their windpipe…. If they are attacking you, they don’t deserve your compassion. Do anything you can to escape. HOWEVER, one good punch or jab does not mean they are too winded or hurt to come after you. It’s not like the movies where they take one hit and they are down for the count. Hit them until they are really hurt, until they are on the ground. Then RUN to a safe place. My self-defense instructor had one rule: I WIN. Meaning, if we encounter an attacker, we walk away the winner, no matter what! There is so much that I can add to this, but I will stop here for now. This is just the starting point on tips, safety precautions, and things to think about.”