Rules To Keep You Safe By Tracey Hawkins

When you hear about crimes against women who you know, or see crime stories on the news that hit a little too close to home, it typically inspires fear and panic. Education is the key to freeing yourself from the fear and moving forward with your life. My goal is to provide you with solutions. Learn how to choose a self-defense class, implement actionable safety tips, as well as deciding upon the best weapon for your safety.

Listen to your gut. According to “The Gift of Fear” author Gavin deBecker, “Intuition is always right in at least two important ways; It is always in response to something. It always has your best interest at heart.” We are our best weapons. You never need to buy anything, never need any kind of classes. Use your brain and know that we all have a built-in survival mechanism that is hardly ever wrong. Our gut-instinct warns us when there is danger. We are often conditioned to be nice and polite, therefore we don’t listen to and respect the fear signals when we receive them. Listen to that ‘voice’ and respect it. Law enforcement officials say a majority of the time when interviewing victims, the victim will say, “It didn’t feel right”, “I knew something was wrong”, “I had a bad feeling…” etc. Do not question that voice. Do not worry about being embarrassed in case it is wrong. Get out of the situation immediately.

When choosing a self-defense program you need to determine if you prefer a male or female instructor. You need to be comfortable with the instructor. Observe or take a trial class before you commit to it. Some women have been victimized by men and shut down when led by a male instructor. Janean Crapo, 6th degree black belt in Aikido, based in Battle Creek, MI, states that some women want to know for sure they can perform the techniques taught. So, if they see a female instructor doing them, they have more confidence. She states the opposite applies, as well, “If a woman doesn’t value herself, she may not value a female instructor.”

Ellen Snortland, author of “Beauty Bites Beast” states that some women value the fact that a woman instructor can relate to their fears, “Been there, done that” carries great weight when it comes to matters of violence prevention, it adds a level of assurance. Whether or not you learn self-defense techniques or choose to carry a weapon, you should remember that your elbows, heel palms and kicks are ALWAYS with you, according to Snortland. Joe Rosner, Director of Best Defense, stresses that self-defense training should include awareness and avoidance tactics, verbal skills and other strategies, keeping in mind that (hands-on) self-defense should be the last resort. “Self-defense techniques need to be simple, easy to remember and effective, even when not done 100% correctly,” Rosner states.

Having a Safety Plan should be mandatory. You should know what you will do in any given situation before you are in it. “When you are habitually prepared to protect yourself and your family, you will probably never have to.” according to Gary Sikorski, retired Deputy Chief for Westland, MI Police Department. It is too difficult to be expected to come up with a plan of action when you are in crisis mode. Play the “What If” game. For example, what would you do if you walk out of the store and someone is following you? What if you were jogging and someone tried to grab you you? What if you were driving into your garage and someone followed you in? Map out a plan of action in your mind, before you need it. That empowers you in knowing that you can get out of any potentially dangerous situation and will not be caught off guard. That ensures that you do not let fear control your life. You are in power.

Being aware of your surroundings means that you are paying attention to what is happening around you, who is around you and what they are doing. Eye contact is crucial when you are out and about because it serves 2 main purposes. First, it lets everyone know that you are alert and paying attention to your surroundings. You are looking directly at them, looking everywhere, therefore, no one can sneak up on you (to take away your weapon of choice and also by doing so, you take away their weapon; the element of surprise). Take it a step further and speak to everyone. Just say “Hi” whenever you encounter someone. Not only is it polite, but it puts everyone on notice. Some women struggle with making eye contact, they are not comfortable with it. This makes it easy. Secondly, it lets that person know that you can identify them if necessary and that you are paying attention.

Awareness training is critical. I teach women how to create a Safety Plan and how to not look like a victim. Key program components include debunking dangerous safety-related myths, recognizing ‘realistic’ fears, safe use of social media (regarding privacy, etc.), as well as product education. This type of training is often conducted in the workplace. The key is getting employers to know there is a steep cost involved when an employee misses work as a crime victim. Regardless of where it is held, women need to seek out such programs to round out any self-defense training or in place of hands-on training if they are not capable or interested in participating. Safety is your responsibility.

“I declare to you that a woman must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself, and there I take my stand.” Susan B. Anthony

Tracey Hawkins, aka, “Tracey, the Safety Lady” is a nationally recognized safety expert. She regularly appears ontelevision news broadcasts to offer safety tips and product education. She writes safety and security topic columns and blogs and is a professional speaker and safety trainer across the U.S.. Follow her on Facebook: “Safety and Security Source”, on Twitter: “TraceySafeTLady” and visit her website: E-Mail: Blog:

Note: Tracey Hawkins is the newest addition to WE Magazine for Women Editorial Team! Welcome TRACEY!