Friday, July 07, 2006

Be Aware, Be Prepared

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Recently my workplace held an awareness campaign to prevent sexual assault in response to an attempted sexual assault on a woman in an adjacent parking lot. The woman in the parking lot was accosted by a man who grabbed her by the arm and then attempted to drag her away. She was able to punch and push the man away. She ran one way, he ran the opposite direction.

The campaign consisted of human resources and security teaming up to distribute free key chain aerosol canisters of pepper spray. Upon receiving the pepper spray, the recipients had to attend a mandatory training session and sign a waiver.

It would make me a little nervous to depend on pepper spray to thwart an assault. Now, I’ve tested pepper spray and I know it will definitely affect me adversely. No more of that, thank you very much.

However, I have seen a fair number of violent men who seem unaffected by having pepper sprayed in their face. In fact, it made them down right cranky.

As disconcerting as it was to see the flyer with it’s over reliance on pepper spray, more disturbing was the additional flyer circulated with it. It was titled “Assertiveness Skills” and had a logo of a cute little hand drawn butterfly crowned by the statement; Women: Protecting Ourselves. I’ve pasted the entire text of the one page flyer below.


Many women have been socialized to ignore or excuse verbal aggression. This can make it difficult to acquire assertiveness skills. However, verbal self-defense is a great first line of defense! It goes against the “script” of a harasser, gives us control back and breaks the silence that too often surrounds harassment.


It has been found that many predators have a very sophisticated process of “planning and reading” a victim before they strike. Often times, predators will begin by invading someone’s personal space. If they notice fear or discomfort in the individual they are harassing they will often continue the intrusive behavior. This is typically done by making sexually intrusive comments. Predators try to gather “information” as to how a person will react to a more physical intrusion. If predators believe that someone is less likely to go into “self-defense” mode, they are more likely to follow through with an assault. (Lisak, CCASA Conference, 2003).

Thus, it is IMPERATIVE for women to know how to respond early to these tactics, by being ASSERTIVE and CONSISTENT with the message that one will not tolerate this type of behavior. (Lisak, CCASA Conference, 2003). (emphasis is from the Original document.)


It is important to keep in mind that there is a difference between being aggressive and assertive when using verbal self-defense techniques. Being aggressive is often perceived as confrontational and threatening. We can exercise our rights without denying the rights of others by choosing to be assertive. Assertiveness is a non-confrontational way to get a message across. Below are steps to assertive communication.

Stand / sit tall.
Keep your head up.
Shoulders back.
Make eye contact with harasser
Speak in a steady, calm voice
Use clear, command-type language (i.e. “I don’t like when you talk to me that way and I want it to stop”).

The flyer carried the URL for the organization; Rape Assistance and Awareness Program (RAAP) but I don’t know if RAAP endorsed this flyer or not. My point is not to say anything negative about RAAP.

The problem I have with the flyer is the strategy trumpeted by it. That is, it endorses assertiveness over aggressiveness. It cautions that being aggressive is perceived as being confrontational and threatening.

Well, Duh!

It goes on to say that; “we can exercise our rights without denying the rights of others by choosing to be assertive.”

But, whose rights should we be concerned with here? The right of the woman not to be raped or the right of the assailant not to be offended?

It also says that “assertiveness is a non-confrontational way to get a message across”

But when you are confronted with a potential assailant and/or rapist, I believe the sensible thing to do is become down right aggressive and take the attitude that someone is going to the hospital or the bone yard, and you’re going to make sure the bad guy is injured or dead, not you. When a bad guy chooses you as his victim, you have no say in his choice, the decision has been made. He has decided to harm or kill you.

Colonel Jeff Cooper has written a great booklet titled: Principles of Self Defense. It run’s about fourteen dollars and is well worth the price.

If you don’t own a firearm, then you should buy one. If you don’t know how to choose one, then go to someone trustworthy and knowledgeable in firearms and seek their advice.

If you live in a shall issue state, then you owe it to yourself and your family to get proper training in the defensive use of a firearm, and get your concealed carry permit. The world of firearms is not just a man’s world. There are plenty of resources for women.

Robert Heinlein said it best: “An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.”

Always be vigilant to defend yourself, and your loved ones.


Blogger Michael said...

“we can exercise our rights without denying the rights of others by choosing to be assertive.”

But, whose rights should we be concerned with here? The right of the woman not to be raped or the right of the assailant not to be offended?

Couldn't have said it better myself. Excellent post.

4:30 AM  
Blogger MonicaR said...

Wonderful entry - thank you! I totally agree with you. I grew up with the idea that I must always be 'polite'. I must worry about people's perception of me as a 'polite' person. Even in the face of danger - 'polite' I must be.

It took until I was about 30 to realize what a bunch of crap that was! We now have our girls enrolled in martial arts and we tell them that in certain situations one does not have to be 'polite'. To hell with any attacker. I cannot believe that this pamphlet - or whatever it is - advises women not to be aggressive when faced with an assault. Crazy - but you know that's what I grew up with.

The girls will be going to the range soon for more in depth gun safety and handling. My husband and I love to go to the range - it's a lot of fun.

10:38 PM  
Blogger Rocky said...

Thank you Michael.
Monica, I think it's great you're teaching the girls about proper firearm safty and handling. One of the best ways to avoid an accidental shooting is to teach children what a firearm is and what it can do. By educating them, we take away the mystique of firearms, and the desire to play with them.

8:00 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

I must agree with Rocky. My dad showed me the shotgun when I was little. He let me hold it and touch it. He even showed me how to unload it. Then, he put it in a soft case (to protect the gun), but left it out. By then, the gun was about as interesting as the kitchen table. It was part of the house. I knew it was dangerous, but the gun had no mystery. Now I own guns and still remember the safty rules.

That is the way to keep kids safe from guns. There was no mystery, so I found no need to play with it. In contrast, if you have a gun but try to hide it, it becomes forbidden fruit-- and a real problem.

2:03 PM  

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