The Number One Question I Get

The Number One Question I Get

A key component of situational awareness is being curious about your environment and the people in it. One of the family rules we have in our house is, validate assumptions and question what you don’t understand. A hashtag I often use in social media posts is #neverstoplearning. Basically, I love to ask questions and enjoy every opportunities to build my knowledge of the world around me.

What happens when the tables are turned and someone gets curious with me? They say, “I only have about 5 minutes before I have to get going-can you quickly tell me what The Diamond Arrow Group is all about?”

I take a deep breath (to stop me from wanting to talk as fast as possible), and say…

I save lives by helping women embrace their intuition, build their situational awareness and live life unafraid through one-on-one coaching, events, trainings, keynote speaking engagements.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence MN fact sheet from 2020:

-33.9% of Minnesota women and 25.1% of Minnesota men experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner rape and/or intimate partner stalking in their lifetimes.

-53% of women experiencing homelessness in Minnesota in 2018 had stayed in a relationship, because they did not have any alternative housing available.

According to the Violence Free MN website:

-In 2020, 40% of DV homicide victims were Black, while compromising less than 7% of MN population.

-Native women face higher rates of victimization and accounted for 10% of 2020 homicide victims while making up only 1% of MN population.

-In 2018, the Violence Policy Center found that Black women were murdered by male intimate partners at rates nearly 3 times that of White Women.

-Economic abuse is one of the most used tactics to maintain power and control over victims and occurs in 99% of cases of relationship abuse.

Economic abuse is present in 99% cases of relationship abuse. That statistic blew my mind.

At the National level:

-1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the United States have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.

-On a typical day, local domestic violence hotlines receive approximately 19,159 calls, approximately 13 calls every minute.

-In 2018, domestic violence accounted for 20% of all violent crime.

-72% of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner; 96% of the victims of these crimes are female.

-1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence.

Economic Impact:

-Victims of intimate partner violence lose a total of 8 million days of paid work each year, the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.

– Intimate partner violence is estimated to cost the US economy between $5.8 billion and $12.6 billion annually.

-Between 21-60% of victims of intimate partner violence lose their jobs due to reasons stemming from the abuse.

– In 2012, 351 women died at work. The leading cause of their death was homicide-28% were murdered. While far more men die on the job overall at 4277, only 9% are murdered.

The physical/mental impact of domestic violence:

-Physical, mental, and sexual and reproductive health effects have been linked with intimate partner violence including adolescent pregnancy, unintended pregnancy in general, miscarriage, stillbirth, intrauterine hemorrhage, nutritional deficiency, abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal problems, neurological disorders, chronic pain, disability, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as noncommunicable diseases such as hypertension, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Victims of domestic violence are also at higher risk for developing addictions to alcohol, tobacco, or drugs.

I do a quick non-verbal read of the person who asked me the question (usually this read involves observing their jaw dropped in shock after hearing the statistics), before continuing.

The statistics on violence committed against women have remained stagnant for decades. The way things have always been done are not working. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. It’s time to make a change and The Diamond Arrow Group is here to be one of those leading the charge. From urban to rural areas, high to low personal wealth, this impacts all women.

The beliefs that influence us the most as adults came from the impacts of events in our childhood. The teachings and trainings I provide need to get to women so they can start making changes in their daily lives to improve not only their own personal safety, but the safety of their loved ones.

If you can’t truly love someone until you love yourself, if you can’t truly know someone until you know yourself, then how can you truly protect someone, until you know how to protect yourself?

Since moving back to the community 15 years ago, I’ve had the opportunity to build great relationships and a positive reputation. I was once described as aggressive and assertive, with a good attitude. 😉 Many people can speak to seeing my work ethic and diplomacy first hand.

I mention all of this because there are big things in the works for the Sharp Women Launch event on March 8th. Make sure you save the date on your calendar!

Don’t Wait For Something To Happen

Don’t Wait For Something To Happen

Learning how to be more situationally aware is not about learning a new life skill, it’s about using life skills you already possess, from the perspective of personal safety.

“Having awareness means using your senses and intuition to notice something is off in your environment. Then, understanding what that means to you and your safety. Lastly, taking action to preserve your safety.”

-Kelly Sayre

Last week, there was a bank robbery and hostage situation in Central MN. It started in the middle of a weekday afternoon. There are not a lot of details being shared yet, but two points I felt compelled to write about for this week’s blog.

First, the suspect displayed erratic behavior in the bank lobby before the situation escalated.

During presentations, I stress the importance of noticing anomalies in your environment. A person displaying behaviors that do not match the baseline. Behaviors you would not normally expect to see in the environment. Anomalies can also be objects you would not normally expect to see in an area, but for the purposes of this post, I’m going to focus on behaviors.

Think about what type of behaviors you would normally expect to see while visiting your bank. People are generally quiet, almost in a library-type way. Due to the private nature of personal finances and the importance of security, bank employees and patrons tend to speak in hushed tones. The amount of distance for personal space is also increased, even pre-pandemic. No one wants someone looking over their shoulder at personal identification information or bank account numbers.

Behaviors that would be considered anomalies would be the opposite of what I described above. Someone being loud, getting too close to other patrons of the bank, pacing around instead of patiently waiting to meet with a bank employee.

No matter what type of environment you’re in, if someone’s behavior is an anomaly from the baseline, pay attention. If any of your intuition alarms start going off, leave the area immediately. There is absolutely no reason to stick around to see IF something bad is going to happen. None.

Stay calm and get to safety (leave the environment). Even if you read the behaviors wrong, you’re still safe. If you stay in the environment because you aren’t quite sure the person’s behaviors are threatening, it can get worse real fast. There’s nothing cool or fancy about getting to safety. Hollywood doesn’t make money off showing people avoiding dangerous situations. But real life isn’t Hollywood.

“You don’t have to be right, but I’d hate for you to be wrong.”

-Tammy McCracken

Second, when there is an active situation where lives are in danger, do not GO TO the scene to spectate.

In today’s world, real-time information and updates are shared immediately and broadcast all over the world via the internet. As someone who spends a good chunk of time studying violence and pre-threat indicators, I understand the curiosity when a situation is happening. I talk about the importance of being curious about your environment in order to stay present and notice anomalies. But that’s when you’re already in the environment. Being curious does not mean you should stop what you’re doing, get closer to the scene, and take a seat on the grass. (Yes, there literally were gawkers at the bank situation).

As I mentioned above, when a situation is happening in real-time, it can get much worse real fast. Law enforcement should not have to worry about keeping “spectators” safe. Victims of a situation don’t want to feel like people are watching events unfold, while eating popcorn and drinking a soda, when they’re having one of the worst days of their life. And, the suspect or suspects, may actually feel motivated to cause more damage to increase the perception that they are a “badass”.

Situational awareness is being present, staying curious about your environment, and taking action to get to safety the moment your intuition tells you it’s time to leave.

You already have the life skills needed to keep yourself and loved ones safe. Don’t fight your intuition because you want front row seats to the action. You may end up being a victim to that action.

“This life’s hard, but it’s harder if you’re stupid.”

-George V. Higgins

Victim Selection

Most of us go about our daily lives NOT thinking about being attacked. Sometimes it’s simply because we don’t have the mental capacity to think beyond the task in front of us. Other times, it’s because we have a false sense of security. The mentality of “it won’t happen to me” or “I live in a safe part of town” or “no one would target me for sex trafficking because I’m older”.

Here’s the thing- no one wakes up thinking, “I’m going to be a victim today”.

The definition of “victim” is: a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action.

We’ve all practiced fire drills since we were kids. Most of society knows what to do if they smell gas in a building. There are checklists and guidebooks on how to survive natural disasters. Those survival skills are taught early on and normalized so it’s not fear mongering.

In our society, tragedy sells. Headlines are created to attract clicks and downloads. To talk about an attack after it happens, and then arm-chair quarterback all the things the victim should have done differently, only serves to discount the traumatic event experienced by the victim. It also helps us separate ourselves from the fact that it could happen to us.

What we need to do is study why the attacker chose the victim and the methods used to gain access to the victim, to commit a crime.

How victims are chosen:

  1. Being distracted

First, there is no such thing as 24/7 perfect situational awareness. Have you ever driven from point A to point B, and upon reaching your destination, realized you don’t remember parts of the drive? We’ve all done it! If you’re going to continue reading this article, let go of perfection. It’s about getting better every day, not becoming an awareness master overnight.

When you’re going from one place to the next, whether that’s walking or driving, refrain from using electronic devices that will distract you. I’m not saying you should NEVER send a text or answer a call when you’re walking down the street- because well, life happens. What I’m saying is work on waiting to use your phone until you’re safe to do so. In reality, there are very few people whose response time means the difference between life and death for another person.

  1. Perception of weakness, weaker than the attacker

An attacker chooses their victim. It’s the 7-second rule of first impressions, but with a criminal undertone. We have all heard about the importance of making a good first impression in meeting new friends, potential future in-laws, and in the business world. The same can be said about making a first impression on a potential attacker.

How you walk down the street, how you walk in to the room, and how you carry yourself as you go about your normal life, sends a message to any predator looking for their next victim. Projecting strength isn’t only a physical attribute. Have you ever heard someone described as, “she’s so sweet and 100 lbs. soaking wet, but I wouldn’t want to be on her bad side!” Projecting strength is also a mindset.

  1. Overtly nice, submissive

Depending on the crime the predator plans to commit, they may test your boundaries not only physically (seeing how close they can get to you before you say something-COVID19 and social distancing is a great tool to deploy in that scenario), but verbally.

“Hey pretty lady, what are we doing tonight?” (I just met you, there is no “we”.)

“You’re right, the likes of you would never talk to someone like me.” (after you’ve told them you’re not interested in further conversation)

“I see you’re a fan of that author too, I bet we have a lot in common!” (when you are simply trying to enjoy a quiet moment reading)

I get it ladies, we have been raised to be kind, to be nice, not to judge others, and all the other caring traits reinforced since childhood. What has helped me deal with this, is to separate their actions from them as a person. I heard the term, “manipulating kindness” in this Crimes Against Women podcast episode and it helped me recognize the tactic and handle it accordingly. It’s not rude to want to be left alone.

How NOT to appear like a target:

  1. Head up, scanning your surroundings in a relaxed, curious way

In my classes, I let everyone know they may find themselves feeling hyper-aware, almost to the point of paranoia, immediately after class. Going back to what I mentioned earlier, there is no such thing as perfect situational awareness. If you are so worried you’re going to miss noticing an anomaly, the true messenger of intuition telling you something is off, won’t be able to get through the noise in your head.

Stay alert by being curious about your environment. Practice your observational skills by picking one descriptive thing about each person in the room. Listen to your environment and pick out five distinct sounds. Does the environment have a particular smell? Is it what you would expect to smell (roasted coffee in a coffee shop, grease and oil at the mechanics garage)? The bonus to implementing these habits is you will be more present and mindful throughout your day.

  1. Stay off devices

Our electronic devices have robbed us of our creativity. Do you remember long car trips that didn’t involve screen time? You had to read a book, write in a journal, or stare out the window at the scenery. When was the last time you were bored, and let yourself be bored?  I’m guilty of going on Pinterest as a distraction when I’m bored. It’s a tough habit to break!

Create perimeters around your device usage. When you’re walking from your car to a store/your home/work, commit to keeping your device in your purse or pocket. When you arrive at your destination early, spend time making observations of your surroundings. Where are all the exits? Where are the restrooms?  The next time you are using a ride-share service or public transportation, sit quietly and mentally go through “what if” scenarios.

  1. Create a mental plan bank of ideas

What would you do if someone knocked on your door at home, when you weren’t expecting anyone? What would you do if you were shopping with your kids and someone was following you? What will you say if that co-worker casually video calls you to gossip, when you’ve got so much work to do? How will you respond if that friend of a friend continues to show up at your door unannounced because, “they were in the neighborhood”?

Unfortunately, women are attacked every day. Most of the time it’s by someone they know, from acquaintances to someone very close to them. Having a mental plan bank of what you would do in different scenarios BEFORE you find yourself in those situations, will help you stay safe. You do not want the first time you’re deciding on your boundaries, to be the moment someone is trying to cross those boundaries.

Just like practicing fire drills and learning about disaster preparedness, learning how to use all your senses and intuition to avoid a potentially dangerous situation, does not increase the likelihood of something happening to you.

You already have all the life skills needed to be situationally aware, I guarantee it. What I teach through The Diamond Arrow Group is how to look at those skills in a new way, to keep yourself and loved ones safer. It’s about perspective and mindset. Commit to having the mindset that your life matters. Your safety is your priority, and you deserve to live life on your own terms.

Own your space in this world.  Live life with abundance and joy. Be bold, be curious, and be kind. You got this.

“What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

-Mary Oliver