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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bryan L. Ciyou is a trial and appellate attorney at the Indianapolis law firm of Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. He earned his BA with distinction and graduated through the honors program, along with his JD,... Read More

A Woman’s view on “Women & Self-Defense”

A Woman’s view on Women & Self-Defense

Self-defense is something every woman is concerned with at some point in her life. I teach a self-defense class to women from time to time and they seem to leave with a better understanding of how they can change things in their life to help keep safe in this somewhat unpredictable world.

Most people think that when you say “self-defense” you mean hand-to-hand or firearms’ defense. And, ladies if you can – do it. But, that’s not the only kind of defense against the evils of the world. Let’s take a look at where you live…No matter where you live, you want to be safe within your own home. Below are some things any woman can do to help secure her home and herself:

Have Man’s Best Friend (well, not all men) in your home.
For a single woman I have always recommended a dog. I’m a big fan of rescue – so go to the pound/shelter/local Humane Society and find a nice dog that you get along with – that gets along with you. I have two big dogs, both 100 pounds and they both live in the house – well not always. They love to run and chase things. But at night, they are in the house. My mother hated animals in the house but let me tell you why I have them in the house. If someone tries to break into my home, the dogs are going to let me know immediately. They are going to bark and bark until I get up or the perpetrator runs away.

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My oldest and I were playing after a gun show one time – he loves plastic bottles. It was within seconds that he jumped between me and a man that was walking towards me – he would not let that man near me. I might add the man wasn’t a vendor and shouldn’t have been in the building. Animals know about people – they sense if they are good or have good intentions. Now, this isn’t always true – you have to know your animal, know its personality. Both of my dogs are very protective of me. One funny thing, every time my husband and I hug – my youngest jumps on my husband to get between us. As he was a rescue, we believe he saw women being abused and he wants to protect me. Now, he’s not aggressive with my husband but just wants space between us. Needless to say, we don’t get to hug as much now with Bo in the family.

However, if you don’t like dogs, which there are several people that don’t – you need to get a cat. They may not be able to protect you but they will let you know when someone is in the house. I have two cats as well and I don’t mind telling you that it is a chore to clean the house every day – I shampoo carpets every month but in the long run it is worth it.

Getting a dog or cat is always my first suggestion. I would say that for a single woman a dog is the way to go, if you can. But, for some people that is not an option.

So, how do you defend yourself against “things”?
Be Aware: There are several ways to protect you and your family and the first is being aware. Look at your house and ask yourself the simple question – “Am I prepared?”

Lock your Windows and Doors: Do you lock your doors and windows when you are out? Or, at night when you are sleeping? For most people, you inherently do these things. But for some of you there is a feeling of safety and the doors are not locked. If you don’t lock your home, I suggest that you watch the crime patterns in your area. If the crime gets too close – you need to start locking your doors.

Keep Shrubs/Trees Trimmed/Good Lighting: For those women who own your own homes – do you have shrubs around your home? Most people do because it looks nice and decorates the outside. But, people can hide in the shrubs so keep them cut low and have lights so you can see if someone is hiding. Trees next to your home can give access to thieves on the second floor. Motion lights are wonderful to have around the house as well. Although, if you live where there are wild animals at night – you will get used to the lights coming on.

Keep Window Treatments Closed: Windows, I have to say I do not like my windows covered. I like to see out. However, there are issues with no coverings. If I can see out then people can see in. To some degree I’m fortunate as my windows are high enough off the ground in most rooms that people can’t see directly into the house but they can see in. You have to understand the degree of danger and what you’re willing to accept.

Home Security System: Home securities are wonderful if you can afford it. But, realize they only help with alerting the authorities. If you aren’t aware and diligent, then the security will not work effectively for you.

Alarms: There are also devices that will sound an alarm within the house if a window or door is opened, not sending a message to the authorities but alerting you. The world has created many “cool” devices. There seems to be something for everyone and for every economic level.

Your home is probably the easiest to protect. Our daily lives such as shopping, doctor’s visits, and going to church are issues that can become difficult or challenging. When I talk with the Mother Group – the biggest issue for them is walking out to their car with babies or children, a diaper bag, purse and groceries. How to handle all of that and pay attention to what’s going on around you? The bottom line is “it is difficult and challenging.” I will say this – I can’t give you an “all safe” way of dealing with your everyday life and keeping yourself, children and family safe. I will say this – being aware and diligent is your biggest weapon.

Suggestions to Multi-tasking Mothers: Try shopping with a friend or have someone keep your children while you grocery shop. Park under a light, so when you walk out you can see what’s around you and your vehicle. You can have someone walk you out – get a store employee to help with your bags. Keep your keys in your hands to save time opening the vehicle and as a weapon. I urge you not to be “somewhere” that is dark and/or deserted.

Buddy System when Socializing: As I watch the news about young women who go missing, several have been out “partying” with friends. Don’t go out by yourself. Keep a buddy system going with secret words that mean ‘danger’, ‘let’s get out of here’, ‘I’m sick’, or ‘this guy gives me the creeps’. Never go to the restroom by yourself in a bar or even at a party. Don’t leave food or drinks unattended. I hear young college women say they go to frat parties and then go off by their self. That is an invitation for something bad to happen. I’m not saying don’t have fun – but be safe while having fun!

FBI Crime Report Statistics: Last year, this is only a preliminary report from the FBI, Chicago had almost 6,000 aggravated assaults. Boston shows an increase in forcible rape from 141 in 2010 to 150 in 2011. Again, it doesn’t sound like it is too high until you’re one of those victims. Phoenix also showed an increase from 254 rapes in 2010 to 279 in 2011. Los Angeles had 440 rapes in 2010 with only 433 in 2011 which is a reduction of 7 but who wants to be one of the 433.

How You Look & Act: I want to finish by saying how you look tells a criminal a lot about you as a person. I’m not talking about how you dress. That may play a part but what is more important is your attitude. How you walk. How you project your personality to the world. Don’t be shy and look down. Look people in the eye when passing – you would be surprised at the number of criminals that do not want to face a competent, confident woman. I have worked 20 years dealing with male criminals. On occasion I have asked what they look for in a victim and every time these men say they look for someone who they believe can be overpowered and controlled. Take a look around you, at your friends and family, you can see the behaviors that tell if they are timid, fearful or wouldn’t fight. And, you can tell who is willing to fight and challenge the situation.

Ladies, think about your surroundings – are they safe? Think about how you may be perceived by a predator – do you look strong, confident and aware of your surroundings? I read this from the recently deceased Nora Ephron and I will end with it. “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”

Until next time…Kitty Austin

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Table of Contents

About the author
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bryan L. Ciyou is a trial and appellate attorney at the Indianapolis law firm of Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. He earned his BA with distinction and graduated through the honors program, along with his JD,... Read More