Men Just Don’t Understand

Men Just Don’t Understand

They Have the Knowledge

Over the last two years, I’ve had numerous conversations with male experts in the fields of personal safety, self-defense, and protection. Every one of them has a vast wealth of knowledge on the subjects and want to help women learn how to improve their personal safety skills.

And each one of them ends the conversation with, “but I’m not a woman so I admit I can never completely understand the unique viewpoint of a woman.”

They want to help women and teach them the skills and give them the tools to be safer in their daily lives, but they know it sounds different coming from a man.

It’s not a myth, it’s a fact.

Research Says

Maybe you’ve read this article from Huffington Post regarding the things women do and think about before simply going for a run.

Maybe you’ve seen this Facebook post that went viral last year with over 560K shares talking about the things men and women do to prevent a sexual assault.

I’m not saying ALL men are oblivious to the things women think about before walking out their door every day. In fact, there are a lot of men who “get it” and want to help. However, they know they can be intimidating to women and cause triggered emotions, so they sit in silent frustration not knowing how to reach all women. Especially the women who really want the training and don’t know where to start.

What Are You Waiting For?

So, where does that leave you? Hopefully not just sticking your head in the sand and pretending “it will never happen to me.” If you’ve ever uttered the words, “but I live in a safe neighborhood” or “I don’t go to places where stuff like that happens” or “my husband/boyfriend/significant other knows all that stuff, so I don’t need to”.

Please take a moment to ask yourself, what would you do IF something happened to you.

You’ve probably heard it before, victims of crimes didn’t start their day thinking it would happen to them. No one plans to be attacked or victimized. So, what are you doing to prepare in case something happens?

You Can Do This!

You can start with taking the first step. Ask yourself the following questions (don’t speed read them either!). After reading a question, close your eyes and mentally picture the scenario in your head and how you would react. 

What would you do…?

…if someone broke into your home while you were there?

…if you heard gunshots while you were grocery shopping?  

…if you realized you were being followed?

…if a guy is getting in your personal space and won’t leave you alone?

Your Life Matters

You have value. You have worth. Your safety is paramount and if you have kids, you want to protect them as well. Take the initiative to invest in improving your personal safety skills. Look for class offerings in your area and get signed up. 

The Diamond Arrow Group offers in-person classes on Situational Awareness. If you don’t live in our area, you can purchase the Situational Awareness and Intuition online training so you can learn tips & tricks from the comfort of your own home. Research and find self-defense classes near you that you can take. If you want guidance on where to go for those classes, send me an email. I’m happy to help.

I will refer you to people who can help you and won’t make you feel silly or stupid for asking the questions on your mind.

 “I declare to you that 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

 

What Would You Do?

What Would You Do?

As most of the world knows, there were two mass shootings over the weekend in the United States. First, the Saturday shooting in El Paso, TX at a Walmart that killed 22 and injured 27 people. Then, the early Sunday morning shooting in Dayton, OH in a nightlife district that left 9 dead, and more than 30 people injured.

When I read about these events, I immediately thought, “what would I do if I had been at that Walmart or outside that bar?”.

In the Store

If I had been inside the store in El Paso, I pictured a grocery cart half-full of groceries, my two small children begging me for some item not on my list, and then I imagined hearing the shots. I pictured grabbing my purse and putting it on my shoulder. I imagined grabbing both my kids’ hands and speed-walking with them towards the back of the store. I pictured heading for the exits I’d made note of during previous shopping excursions.

Outside the Bar

If I’d been in the nightlife district in Dayton, I pictured standing with my friends on the sidewalk, waiting for a taxi or rideshare car. We’d be laughing about feeling too old to stay out so late and how the few drinks consumed were probably going to give us headaches in the morning.  I pictured myself scanning for the taxi or car and observing the other people on the sidewalk. I pictured noticing the shooter walking up to the crowd (not because I think I’m always going to have perfect situational awareness, but because I firmly believe in mentally focusing on a scenario that has a successful outcome). I want to have the mindset that I will be aware, I will see danger, and I will take immediate action to get myself and my loved ones out of harm’s way.

Did I feel fear going through those mental scenarios?

Of course!

If someone says they don’t feel fear thinking about a life or death situation, they’re lying.

What Did I Think About?

I thought about what my two kids might be asking while speed-walking to the back of the store. How I would need to convince them to run in the store after I’ve told him a million times NOT to run in the store.

I thought about telling my friends we need to leave NOW. Grabbing their arms and pulling them to the nearest barricade option. Maybe it would be a parked car, maybe a dumpster across the street, or maybe around a corner of the building.  Due to the circumstances involved with the Dayton shooting- the time of night, lack of visibility, the crowds of people- I know we would have very little time to act. We would have mere seconds to get to safety.

How Are You Feeling Right Now?

Are you holding your breath right now reading this? Are you mentally picturing the scenarios I’ve described above? Are you picturing yourself doing all those things?

Good.

Mentally putting yourself in those situations, going through the steps you would take to keep yourself and loved one safe, is the first step in taking responsibility for your safety. It’s uncomfortable and scary, but wouldn’t you rather come up with your plan while sitting in the safety and comfort of your own home instead of hoping it never happens to you?

You Can’t Stop Living Your Life

One of my favorite quotes, “Fear does not stop death, it stops life” by Vi Keeland, is a great mantra. Are you going to stop grocery shopping? Sure, you can start using home delivery services and swear you will never step inside a grocery store again, but what happens when you need something last minute? What happens when it’s 8pm and you realize you’re in charge of bringing the snack for your kid’s class the next day or the side dish for the potluck at work?

Are you never going to go out with friends? Are you never going out to see a movie, go to a show, or listen to your favorite band? I hope not! Life is meant to be lived! We don’t cherish things; we cherish the memories of experiences associated with those things.

What Can You Do?

A lot of situational awareness is mental preparedness.

Do you know what’s great about that? You can practice those skills anytime, anywhere, and you don’t need anyone with you.

When I teach, or as I mention in the Daily Habits video in the online training program, you can start practicing right now to become more aware of your surroundings. Practicing your observational skills (it’s not only what you see!), working on your memorization (what details can you recall from your day?) and making a point to notice one thing on every person you meet (even with family and friends), will help you hone your situational awareness skills.

Remember This

I want women to understand they already have awareness skills. They simply need to sharpen those skills.

That’s why I started The Diamond Arrow Group. I want to help any woman take the next step (or first step) in learning how to trust their intuition. I believe women should be able to move forward with confidence and live life on their own terms.

“We avoid the things that we’re afraid of because we think there will be dire consequences if we confront them. But the truly dire consequences in our lives come from avoiding things that we need to learn about or discover.”

— Shakti Gawain

How Could They Do That!?!

How Could They Do That!?!

When I get sent videos or articles about women being attacked, I have a moment of shock and disbelief. How could a human being do that to another human being?! And since 1 in 4 women experience severe intimate partner physical violence, the shock of being attacked by someone they knew is even more chilling.

Social Norms

Why is it so shocking? Because MOST of society adheres to social norms. What are social norms? According to Your Dictionary…

“Social norms, or mores, are the unwritten rules of behavior that are considered acceptable in a group or society. Norms function to provide order and predictability in society.”

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

People follow social norms to get along. They want to feel like they belong and are a part of a group. You’ve probably heard the term “Tribe” before. We all want to find our tribe. It’s a social group where we feel accepted for who we are, and that people “get” us. We want to believe that most people are good and kind…and most people are! When we read stories of complete strangers helping others in a time of need, we are reminded that good people still exist and our faith in humanity is restored.

When an attacker breaks that trust, we are stunned. We ask ourselves, “how could someone do that to someone!?!” and going back to the bleak statistic above, we ask “how could someone do that to someone they know and supposedly care about!?!”

It’s because of one simple truth.

Monsters are real and they look like people.

The Criminal Mindset

The criminal mind does NOT play by society’s rules. They do not adhere to social norms. In fact, they take advantage of the knowledge that most people expect others to play by the rules. Criminals know most women are caregivers and want to help others. Serial killer Ted Bundy pretended to have an injured arm and asked women to help him put something in his car. Not only did he look like an everyday guy (I can’t stomach calling him handsome), he knew how to manipulate a woman’s kindness and willingness to help, to get what he wanted. Even though Ted Bundy targeted strangers (which is not the statistical norm), his manipulation techniques are a great example of exploiting social norms to target his victims.

Too Trusting

Steve Kardian, a career law enforcement officer and author who specializes in crime prevention and risk reduction for women’s safety, shared an experiment he did on a college campus. In his book, The New Superpower for Women, Steve talks about a test he did in partnership with the tv show, Inside Edition, “Are college women too trusting?”. He placed himself on the side of a large, college campus parking lot, wearing a baseball cap, backpack and knee-length shorts. Many people did spot him as out of place and decades too old for being on campus, but just as many didn’t give him a second glance. He selected 8 women to “test” simply because they were distracted. They hadn’t noticed him even though they were walking closely past him and were startled when he approached them. Out of the 8 women he selected, all 8 let him get into their car by him simply saying, “Hey there, could you drop me off at the security gates so I could get some help here?” And motioning vaguely, as if towards a stalled vehicle.

Scary? Unbelievably so. We all like to think we would NEVER let a complete stranger get into our car. But when we are distracted and not paying attention to our surroundings, if someone is suddenly asking for help, will you have time to ask yourself, “who is this person and why are they asking for my help?”, or will you simply respond, “sure”.

Be Aware

Situational awareness is the foundation of taking responsibility for your personal safety. Never let the “hope” that all people are playing by the same set of society’s rules, lead you to ignore what your intuition is telling you.

“When we’re distracted, situations that startle us can cause an unconscious response instead of an informed, conscious action.”

-Kelly Sayre

Being Present

Being Present

Last week, my family and I spent time at the lake, celebrating Independence Day. It was the opportunity to completely disconnect from work for my husband and myself. Our intention of taking a break from work emails and social media is helped by the fact that we have limited cell service and no Wifi in the camper. The first few days are a bit strange because I have moments of brief panic, “where did I leave my phone?!?”. But by day 3, I remember what it’s like to not look at my phone every 30 minutes.

I’m more present.

I’m able to see every “Hey mom, watch this!”

I’m able to wholeheartedly say yes to every “Hey mom, will you play with me?”

I laugh a lot more because I see the kid’s silly antics instead of being lost in thought about the latest email or text.

Being aware and present in life not only keeps you safer, it also enriches your life.

Think Differently

Every time I give a presentation on situational awareness, I talk about the other benefits of being aware of your surroundings. I’ve realized that carrying myself with confidence deters potential attackers AND sets the tone when I walk into a room. Reading body language is great for recognizing when someone is up to no good AND tells me whether my kids are having a good or bad day. Being able to visualize what I would do in different active threat scenarios will prevent me from freezing AND helps me decide on the best form for a perfect cannonball off the end of the dock. I want women to realize they already have all the skills necessary, they simply need to start thinking differently about being present.

I have conversations with women about situational awareness and how it can help them make safer choices as they go about their daily lives. Most of the time, when the discussion starts, they visualize physically fighting an attacker. While learning physical self-defense techniques is important for everyone, I tell them it’s more important to see and understand their environment BEFORE anything happens. It’s driving your car down the road and being aware of the other vehicles. It’s keeping a watchful eye while your kids play in the water to make sure they’re safe.

Soft Skills

Situational awareness is the fancy way of saying “being present”. I don’t want women to think it’s some complicated and difficult skill to learn. In fact, most women are better at being more situationally aware than men. It’s just that we’re using it in all the ways that don’t pertain to our safety! Women are intuitive by nature. Women tend to be more empathetic to others and can sense when someone is happy or sad. Women have these skills because traditionally, we’re raised to be caretakers and nurturers. The switch women need to make is realizing these soft skills can also be used when it comes to our personal safety.

Start Today

When was the last time you sat down and people-watched? When was the last time you left your phone on its charger in the morning and enjoyed your first cup of coffee before checking emails? When was the last time you noticed someone’s cute shoes and told them, “Those shoes are adorable!” Start being more present in your everyday life. It’s a big beautiful world filled with lots of interesting people. If becoming more situationally aware seems too intimidating right now, start with being more present in your daily life. We all have to learn to crawl before we can walk. You got this.

“Nothing is more precious than being in the present moment. Fully alive, fully aware.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh

Daily Habits

Daily Habits

Some of the favorite things I teach in my classes are daily habits to build your awareness. You have the ability to be more aware of your surroundings already and it doesn’t require any money, anyone else helping you or any fancy training. Because all you have to do is start practicing.

The A-Game

This is a game you can play in your head, with your friends and even with kids! At an event-say a meeting or going to the park-try and see how many of the following questions you can answer.

  • What is the general mood of the place?
  • What is one thing that sticks out to you?
  • What is the normal activity you would expect to see here?
  • What would cause someone or something to stand out?

At first, you might feel like you are constantly scanning and staring at people, but eventually it will become second nature.

Our friend Andy, over at The Secure Dad podcast, shared a game he plays with his kids when they go out to eat. He calls his game, “Count the doors”. Andy asks them to count the doors in the restaurant. This helps keep them busy, works on their counting skills, and subconsciously helps them realize there are multiple options for getting out of the restaurant.

Master Memorization

A great skillset to build with the A-game is mastering your memorization. After you’ve left an event or place, see how many details you or others can recall.

  • How many people were there?
  • If you interacted with anyone, what was their mood?
  • How did they respond to you?

You can play this game immediately after you’ve left somewhere or at the end of the day. Whenever you have a moment. As you build this skill, you will find it easier and easier to recall details from events that happened not only earlier in the day, but even earlier in the week or month!

One Thing

You’ve probably heard that eyewitness accounts are not always reliable. Two people can be looking at the same thing and come away with very different impressions and memories. That’s why I recommend picking ONE THING to remember about people. What is the first thing you notice about someone when you meet them?

  • Their haircut or style
  • A tattoo
  • A piece of jewelry such as earrings, a bracelet or a watch

Practice noticing that ONE thing with everyone you meet. Even if you’ve known someone your whole life, what is the first thing that stands out to you?

Now-don’t try to do all these exercises at once! You may end up feeling overwhelmed or look like a suspicious person yourself because you’re staring at everyone. Pick one habit to work on every day and soon you won’t even realize you’re consciously practicing it.

The best part? You’ll start being more present in your daily life and your personal relationships will benefit.

 

 “Forget perfect on the first try. In the face of frustration, your best tool is a few deep breaths, and remembering that you can do anything once you’ve practiced two hundred times.”

― Miriam Peskowitz, The Daring Book for Girls

Situational Awareness & Kids

Situational Awareness & Kids

How do I talk to my kids about being more aware?

 

What’s one of the biggest complaints of parents? Kids never listen! Especially at a store or in a crowded area, kids have the natural desire to explore. They don’t have the maturity to be aware of a dangerous situation or person.  

More then likely, you were told as a child to “never talk to strangers”. You’ve probably repeated this message to your own kids. But here’s the thing- someday, your child is going to have to talk to a stranger.

For example, it’s so easy for your child to wander off and when they realize you’re no longer in their sights, they may panic. If you haven’t taught them what to do and how to ask for help, they might not make the safest decisions. Pick a meeting spot in case they get separated from you (such as the coffee shop in the store) or tell them to find a woman.

Yes-tell them specifically to find a woman.

Here’s why-traditionally, women are caregivers and whether or not they have their own kids, women are far more likely to help a child with whatever they need and see it through until the end. Also, statistically speaking, women are less likely to be sexual predators. It’s better to teach kids WHICH stranger to ask for help and HOW to ask for help.

  • Between the ages of 4-6: Start talking about strangers.
    • This is the time most kids are starting school and interacting with many adults they don’t know. A great question to start with is, “do you know what a stranger is?” If they aren’t sure, let them know a stranger is someone they don’t know. It’s that simple. Go through a list of people they know and then list people they don’t know to help show them the difference.
    • It’s important not to scare them though, remind them that a stranger is not necessarily a good person or a bad person, a stranger is someone they don’t know.
  • Between the ages of 7-10: Have them practice asking a stranger a question while you are close by.
    • Start with something simple. Have the child pick a stranger to go up to and ask what time it is. Again-you are close enough to overhear the conversation but far enough away that the child won’t look to you to ask the question.
    • After this exercise, ask them why they picked that particular stranger to ask their question. Ask them how the stranger reacted (were they annoyed or helpful?). 
    • This is a great way to learn about their intuition (why they picked the stranger they picked) and how receptive they are of another person’s body language (how the stranger reacted to their question).
  • Between the ages of 11-13: This is a great time to help them recognize their own intuition signals.
    • Watch them interact with other adults, such as teachers or coaches.
    • Ask them how they felt when that adult interacted with them.
    • Remember-it’s important for the child to know their feelings matter. If they tell you, “it felt uncomfortable or strange when that person stood so close to me”, don’t dismiss or downplay that feeling. Ask them to tell you more. Maybe something along the lines of “why did it make you uncomfortable?”. Kids need to feel like they can tell you anything and that you will listen.
  • Between the ages of 14-18: The years of growth and change.
    • Your kids are going to test boundaries and push for more independence at this age. You may have heard this before, but I feel it’s important to remind you- be their parent and not their friend.  
    • Give them boundaries and show them how to set their own healthy boundaries.
    • Talk to them. Ask about their friends, ask them where they’re going, ask them about their feelings. 
    • Teach them how to separate behaviors from the person displaying the behavior. For example, teach them to ask “why is this person trying to charm me?” instead of thinking “this person is charming”.

Remember, the issue isn’t strangers, it’s the behavior of strangers.

If you want to start the conversation of safety and situational awareness with kids but don’t know how, start with that. Talk to them and teach them to pay attention to strange behaviors and go from there.