August 6, 2012

Staying Safe


I contemplated if writing this post was appropriate, as I generally don't touch on such heavy topics. However, a multitude of reasons (and a few of your tweets) lead me to believe that someone else could possible benefit from hearing this, and to me that out ways everything else.

Yesterday I had an incident while out alone. In reality, it could be seen as no big deal (it was over in minutes and I was left unharmed). On the other hand, however, it can also be seen as being a very big deal, and for this I feel it's important to talk about it.

While out running errands in a fairly small, fairly unfamiliar town I was placed in a situation that made me question my safety. I had been in a local shopping plaza for about 20 minutes, going to one store, and then to the next to pick up lunch to-go. I walked out to my nearby vehicle, got in and locked the door (I always, ALWAYS keep my car doors locked), and went on to situate my drink/bags in the passenger seat. A minute or so later I heard a knock, knock on my driver side window, and turned around to find a man in his mid-to-late twenties staring at me. In the second, and seconds following the moment I saw him my mind swirled around and thoughts like my locked doors came to mind, and what did he want, and what was I to do if he tried to open the door or brake the window. I knew to keep the doors locked, and the windows up. I wasn't going to be foolish about this, even if he meant no harm.

Through the window the man kept staring at me, expecting me to roll down the window or open the door. I looked at him and finally asked him what he wanted through the rolled up window, and with a confused face he told me he wanted to ask me a question. I tried to stay calm and asked him what, and he replied that he wanted to know if my truck was for sale. I immediately told him no, and with an "oh" he walked away, down to an old, beat-up car at the end of the parking lot that had another man standing outside, and one-two other people in the car. I drove off as soon as I could get the truck into gear, shaken up a bit, but knowing that I did the right thing.

Now, I feel I should start by saying that in no way does my truck have any kind of writing, sticker, or anything that would indicate that it was for sale. It has an out-of-state plate, and is solely a personal vehicle. Also, I know that maybe the man meant no harm and possibly just wanted to talk to me, but his actions were done in such a way that would make someone worry that his intentions meant otherwise. However, I feel sometimes women (and people in general) can be too trusting, especially in a moment of confusing and disarray, and it's important to alway be aware and keep yourself in the safest situation possible (especially when you're alone).

Since this incident occurred the idea of taking self defense classes has been on my mind. I never want to be in a situation where I can't take care of myself, or be put in a situation because I was not paying attention.

I would love to hear your thoughts/experiences on women's self defense. Also, please know that I wrote this post in hope that one day I could help someone else who may find themselves in a similar situation.

Sincerely,
Chelsea

16 comments:

  1. i'm really glad you decided to share. from having lived in philly and nyc for ten years, i find myself very rough around the edges. but sometimes i'm afraid that i will come off as mean or judgemental so i try to be nice and end conversations quickly. luckily, there is never a solitary moment in the city. you could have been abducted and no one would have noticed. im glad you acted the way you did, you can never be too safe.

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  2. Sounds like you reacted in the best possible way you could have. I've been in several bad, bad situations myself and haven't managed nearly as well as you did. I try not to beat up myself about it but I do think the key in these situations is to be prepared for anything. I think self-defense classes are a great idea, if only to make you feel safer (no one should have to feel unsafe).

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  3. I'm a in my college women's committee and we're implementing free self-defence classes for all female students (optional, Ofc) so that they can feel safe around campus. Whilst it is one of the safest cities in the UK, I still get extremely nervous walking the 10mins from campus & the library to my apartment when it's dark. We even have a women's bus now to take people from college to their door within 2 miles for a cheap price and only female passengers.

    I find myself quite paranoid about safety and am trying to be more relaxed but I would definitely encourage you to take a class. IMO, it's like a first aid class. Hopefully you'll never need to use anything you learn but it's in the back of your mind for emergencies.

    Glad you're ok.

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  4. I completely understand how you feel. I go running and biking a lot and I seem to receive, well, attention. Often. What's really bothersome is that these men don't consider how their actions could make me feel, and I imagine that's similar to your incident. When a truck of hooting twentysomethings goes by, they're not trying to flatter me, they're trying to show off to themselves and be all manly and whatnot. They don't consider that it really makes me feel awful afterwards. I try to assume that people are just oblivious rather than completely mean spirited. All we can do is stay vigilant, pay attention to our surroundings and take whatever action we can to make us feel safe. It seriously sucks that we even have to be talking about this, but there it is.

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  5. I was recently picking up boxes for moving in the back warehouse section of my local grocery store when I was approached by a man asking for money. He seems to have meant no harm, but I felt cornered nonetheless and gave him a 20.00 bill. In retrospect, I should have brought my husband with me. It's hard out there for women. - Leah

    leahwise.wordpress.com

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  6. So glad to hear that nothing horrible (or even remotely bad) happened! I've also been thinking about taking a self defense class. I'd like to take that and maybe a gun safety class. How do you feel about guns as protection? I definitely wouldn't think about carrying one on me (or even in my car) without having taken a class.

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  7. oh man, i could see how that could be a scary situation..i hate being out of my comfort zone, and thank god you didn't lower your window, who knows what he would have tried. I am definitely all about self defense, and I wish I knew more of it, because I think as women we need to be mindful of what could happen, and how we can protect ourselves... so glad you're okay!

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  8. I have taken a self defense class, and I'd have to say it gave me more confidence in how to avoid situations (like you did) and what to do if it escalates. We also learned how to break a board with our bare hands, which was pretty neat. The real world application being that you can do a lot more damage than you think you can if you are put in a compromising situation.

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  9. I had a situation where a guy followed me in my car for several blocks and was shouting inappropriate things at me whenever he could get next to me. I was absolutely terrified and couldn't get a hold of my husband. My advice is, know where your local police station is and carry mace. And, remember, eyes, throat, nuts and knees!

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  10. i completely agree with you and think you did the right thing. never take for granted that everyone has good/innocent intentions. i've never taken a self defense class but i definitely support the idea.

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  11. I did karate for almost 3 years and spent a year working in the crisis field with complete wackadoos...and honestly the best trick I've practiced a lot is to remain calm and act like you know exactly where you're going (even if you're faking it). Being alert and aware is half the battle I think!

    Go take some classes, girl, learn how to kick a booty :) Seriously though, knowing a few tricks definitely helps with the calm part.

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  12. You did the right thing by keeping your doors/windows locked. That must've been pretty nerve-wracking for you. I'm glad you're ok and definitely think about taking those classes!

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  13. I'm massively late on this but I do feel the need to share that I went to college in a seriously rough neighborhood (ranked no. 2 most dangerous college in America recently: http://elitedaily.com/elite/slideshows/dangerous-colleges/?slide=9)

    In my second to last semester, I finally took a course called Personal Defense for Women (http://www.rad-systems.com - there's links to find local classes!) Because of the course's popularity and how the course selection process works, you can pretty much only be a senior to take it.

    But we learned from the R.A.D. System of Self Defense, and it was so worth it. While three years on campus had only increased my street smarts, this made me more aware of my surroundings and more confident walking around campus and the city in general. And despite being a serious class, it was a lot of fun -- though I got way too pumped on adrenaline during the final and sprained my hand!

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  14. I do self defense and highly recommend it to everyone. More for psychological reasons then anything else. You feel more confidant when these situations DO come up and other people can read your body language...they can immediately spot if you look vulnerable as opposed to if you look confident and calm. I used to have really bad anxiety but now I wont't let anyone make me a victim :)

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