Fear Mongering and Click Bait

Fear Mongering and Click Bait

Last week, an article was shared with me about an alleged Tik Tok video declaring April 24th National Rape Day. In doing a quick online search, there were quite a few articles talking about this alleged video.

When something gets shared with me, whether it’s a video, article, picture, or a personal account of a woman being attacked, I try to get as much information as I can. I want to learn the details, in order to pull out lessons that will help other woman stay safer. It’s not about figuring out what the victim did wrong. It’s about looking at the tactics or methods used by the predator, and sharing that information so everyone can learn to recognize early warning signs.

In every attack from one human to another (or group of people), there are pre-threat indicators. The indicators are not always recognized, either because the victim does not consciously observe them and misses their intuition signals, or a third party doesn’t recognize the indicators for what they are. Again-this is not a blame game, it’s a lack of knowledge on threat assessment.

The alleged Tik Tok video would be considered a pre-threat indicator. Except, no one could find the video. A friend of DAG, whose job is in crisis management and threat assessment, had his entire team scouring the web for this video. They couldn’t find it. What they did find was a post on social media talking about the alleged video. From that post, mainstream media took it as fact (without verifying there was an actual video), and used fear mongering as click bait.

Now, some could argue that the public needs to be made aware of any and all threats of violence, in order to protect themselves. I disagree.

Real and viable threats? Yes-those need to be brought to the attention of the right people to avoid violence if at all possible.

Fear mongering and scare tactics to get clicks, likes, and shares? Nope.

Not only do scare tactics make the situation worse, it can be re-traumatizing for anyone who has experienced that type of violence in the past. Instead of sharing knowledge to empower women in their personal safety (ex: here’s the warning signs to watch for and options to get safe), it causes panic and anxiety.

What is the most important thing to do when your intuition alarm bells start going off? Stay calm and decide on a course of action that keeps your safety the #1 priority.

How can you build confidence in your personal safety skills? Here’s 4 things to start with…

  1. Get on The Diamond Arrow Group’s email, follow DAG on Facebook and Instagram, and connect with Kelly on LinkedIn. (Share our info with others!)
  2. Practice simple daily habits to increase your situational awareness skills. (Watch this video for ideas.)
  3. Gather a group of friends or family and take self-defense classes. (Are you in central MN? Here’s a FREE class with 500rising instructors next month.)
  4. Research self-defense tools and figure out what would work best for you and your lifestyle. (Don’t know where to start? Email me.)

I don’t want you to live your life in fear of the “what ifs”. There are so many cool people to meet, so many cool places to travel to, and so many cool adventures to experience.

A diamond through an arrow symbolizes courage moving forward. Let me help you build confidence in your personal safety skills so you can live life on your terms.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

-Mary Oliver

Sneak Peek at the DAG Book

Sneak Peek at the DAG Book

I’ll be in a self-imposed, writer’s isolation this week to work on book edits. Since it’s blog week, I thought it would be fun to share an excerpt with you. A sneak peek/VIP insider info sort of thing.

The excerpt below is a “diamond” in the rough (hahaha…get it? ;-p).

DAG Book (still trying to come up with a title!)

“One night, just as I was drifting off to sleep, I heard a loud bang and saw a flash of light through my bedroom curtains. I was too terrified to move. It had sounded like gunfire. I didn’t want to look out my window for fear that the person would see my curtains move, and know I was awake. I called 911 and two Sheriff Deputies showed up. It was late at night, but I was wide awake.

The one Deputy kept testing my memory by repeating back incorrectly what I said.

Deputy: “you said you heard two shots”

Me: “no, I said I only heard one”

I lived in a newer development with small city lots. The neighbors on the bedroom side of my house told the Deputies they hadn’t heard anything.

The two Deputies were professional and took my statement. When they left, I started doubting what I had seen and heard. Maybe I had dreamt it? Maybe it was a firecracker? I didn’t sleep that night, even with Diablo next to me.

I few weeks later, I heard two men’s voices outside my bedroom window, late at night. Again-I froze in bed and silently cursed Diablo for sleeping soundly, while I lay in fear. Where was my scary pit bull protector when I needed him?

After I didn’t hear anything for a few minutes, I assumed it was the neighbors and went to sleep.

While making coffee the next morning, I looked out my front window, down onto my driveway, and saw the explanation for the two male voices I’d heard the previous night. A vehicle had pulled into my driveway (it was winter and the recent snow was a great evidence collector), the passenger had gotten out and walked up to my front door. The driver had gotten out and walked around my house, to the base of my deck stairs, and back to the vehicle.

I remember feeling absolutely terrified.

My mind started racing. Was this related to the weird noise I had heard a few weeks ago? Were they casing my house? How ballsy to walk around my house in the winter, when I could easily see their tracks the next morning. Was this a psychological game and they were intentionally trying to intimidate me?

At the time, I was working on a law enforcement event in town, so I called one of my contacts. I shakingly told him about the tracks I was seeing around my house. I also mentioned that I thought I had heard a gunshot a few weeks prior. I felt so helpless and scared. I kept thinking, “WTF is wrong with me? I’m living by myself and I don’t have a single weapon in my house. (yes, yes-technically I had a variety of weapons in my house, but “affordances” wasn’t in my brain yet). I don’t have a plan as to what I would do if someone tried to break into my home. Obviously, my dog isn’t going to be any help.”

If we look at fear as a motivator instead of a hindrance, it can help us improve our lives. I didn’t want to live in fear in my own home. I needed to take accountability for my personal safety and create a plan.

My LE contact calmly reassured me that most likely, the individuals had mistaken my house as someone’s they knew. After walking around, they probably realized their mistake and left without incident. It was a reasonable explanation and it calmed me down.

It’s important to point out I had a law enforcement contact I knew and trusted enough to call and ask for advice. If I hadn’t had that connection, I would’ve been faced with the decision to either call the police non-emergency number or shrug it off and act like it wasn’t a big deal. As a single woman, living alone with her cuddly pit bull, I have to admit I probably would’ve shrugged it off.

I’m not saying it would’ve been the wrong choice, it simply would’ve been the choice I picked. As women, when we tell someone about something that freaked us out, but nothing bad happened, we hear “See? It was nothing.” We may even be told we were “probably overreacting”. This perpetuates the habit of downplaying our intuition when we sense something is off in our environment.

If I had called my Dad that morning instead of the LE contact, he would have done his best to reassure me that everything was fine, that I was okay, and then he would’ve whispered out of the side of his mouth “don’t tell your mother, it’ll freak her out”.

The message, “if something scared you, but nothing bad happened, you are fine. BUT…keep it to yourself because it might cause worry in someone else”, gets ingrained in our head.

Do you see the screwed-up messaging women get about their personal safety?

We need to change the conversation and talk about the real things women face. We need to talk about what violence towards women really looks like and how to create a plan that works for them. We need to stop making women feel like they should keep their fears to themselves because heaven forbid we make someone else uncomfortable.”

Let’s Get Rid of Pedestals

Let’s Get Rid of Pedestals

This past weekend, I was made aware of a woman experiencing some really horrible things. My heart broke for her. Not out of pity, but because of the work I do studying violence against women, I recognized all the factors making it hard for her to know what action to take. Does she have the answer inside of her? Absolutely. Does that make it easier for her to take action? Not at all.

“But Kelly, what factors could possibly be so big that someone would hesitate to take action?!?”

Money

Child(ren)

Pets

Her home

Her routine

And the big one…

Shame

Brene Brown says “secrecy, silence and judgment: those are the three things shame needs to grow exponentially in our lives.”

When anyone is experiencing a traumatic event in their life, it can be paralyzing. There are so many questions they ask themselves. How did this happen? How did I not see the early warning signs? What will people think of me when they find out? People think I’m so great in other areas of my life, how did I screw this part up so badly?!? They want to hide their pain because the pain of other’s judgment feels suffocating and isolating.

In my opinion, social media has amplified the power of shame. It’s the double-edged sword of seeking connection by sharing parts of our lives with others and the dopamine hit of getting likes and affirmations in the comments. We want people to like us, so we continue to refine our public image to keep the good feelings flowing. To share the not-so-great moments of our life and be “real” in the virtual world gets shoved in the closet. The lines between real life and the virtual world are so blurred, that shoving embarrassment in the closet starts happening in our relationships with the people in our physical world. During the pandemic, I found myself not wanting to talk about my struggles online or in person because a.) Everyone was struggling with something, if not everything, in their life so I didn’t want to add to the weight of the world and b.) I strive to maintain a high level of personal responsibility so working on myself to get through the tough times makes me look inward for answers. While that may seem noble, if I’m not careful, I stop sharing my pain with the people who love me unconditionally. I keep the messy parts of myself secret because in the past, the judgment of those I thought would be there for me no matter what, was crushing. I was ostracized by those closest to me and left to fend for myself. (teaser: I dive more deeply into this in my upcoming book. Gah! Being vulnerable was scary but so therapeutic!)

I look at life’s difficult times as lessons, so while I wouldn’t wish my experiences on anyone, I see the silver-lining in what I learned by getting through it. My increased empathy for others, my refusal to judge anyone by their past, and the belief that no one’s life is perfect. My mother tells me when I was a little girl, if I got hurt, I didn’t want to be held. By her account, I would lash out and want to be left alone. In reality, I did want to be consoled, but on my terms. I see the same behavior in my youngest. When he gets upset, he wants to be alone. I wait a beat, then I sit close by and let him know I’m there for him whenever he’s ready to talk or needs a hug. I stay quiet and I hold the space for him. It usually doesn’t take long before he tells me why he’s mad and ends up in my lap for a hug.

The woman I mention at the beginning of this post is in the middle of a storm. What she doesn’t need is anyone making her feel ashamed, feel like it’s her fault, or pass judgment. She needs to know her closest circle of people loves her unconditionally and will hold space for whatever feelings she needs to work through. She needs to know that when she asks for help, she won’t be told what to do, but instead will be given any and all the resources to take action.

No one is perfect. We’ve all got our own shit. Thinking someone else has it all together and finding yourself jealous of YOUR perception of them is toxic. Twisting jealousy into judgement to make yourself feel better is a shitty thing to do. On the flip side, don’t feel like you have to air your dirty laundry in public to be “real” either. It’s your rules. It’s your mental boundaries. Live life on your terms.

“Can we get rid of the pedestals already?

I don’t need to tell you all the times I fucked up in my life so you can feel better about yourself.

You don’t have to pretend you’ve got all your shit figured out for me to respect you.

The grave equals all.”

-Kelly Sayre

Basic Vehicle Safety

Basic Vehicle Safety

Growing up, my dad passed along his love for cars to me. For my 16th birthday, he bought me my first car. A 1:18 scale diecast model of a ’57 Corvette Stingray (very funny dad).

Every Christmas since then, my gift from him is the duPont REGISTRY Holiday Edition of Fine Cars. When I was younger, I would study it and try to decide which car I wanted to buy. The downside to this daydreaming was I thought a $50k car was cheap. Spoiler alert, it’s not.

My childhood was also before kids had electronic distractions. In order to keep my siblings and I from fighting in the back seat, he would have us play “guess the make and model” of the cars around us. This game was especially tricky at night when all you could see for clues were headlights or taillights.

All of this fueled (pun intended) my love for cars. I wanted to know everything about them. How to check fluid levels, change the oil or a flat tire. How to control my actual first car, an ’80 Caprice Classic with rear-wheel drive, on icy roads. I love roadtrips and have done quite a few 12-14-hour drives. When an opportunity to ride 180 mph around the Charlotte Speedway with the Richard Petty Driving Experience presented itself, I was all in.

This passion for vehicles made me comfortable in and around all vehicles. That confidence helped thwart quite a few service technicians who were eager to tell me all the things that needed fixing on my vehicle, even though I was only in for an oil change.

My company, The Diamond Arrow Group, is all about helping women gain confidence to live life on their own terms. Helping women learn and understand how their vehicles play a role in their personal safety is an important piece of the puzzle. According to AAA’s American Driving Survey, 2014-2017:

“On average, drivers spent 51 minutes driving approximately 31.5 miles each day, making an average of 2.2 driving trips. Nationwide, drivers made 183 billion trips, driving 2.6 trillion miles, in 2016 and 2017. In 2016-2017, all driving metrics increased when comparing statistics with the previous period measured, 2014-2015.”

Americans have increased the average minutes spent driving per day by 6.3% since 2014-2015! Incorporating vehicle safety with our personal safety skills is important. Here are 5 key things to start practicing today.

  • Verify that pushing the unlock button on your key fob once, only unlocks the driver’s door.
    • If your key fob is not set up this way, grab the owner’s manual and change it or ask your trusted service technician to do it for you.
  • Every time you get in a vehicle, make sure all the mirrors are adjusted for the best sight lines with you in the driver’s seat.
  • Once you and any passengers are inside the vehicle, lock the doors.
    • I can’t stress this enough. Any time you are in your vehicle, make sure the doors are locked!
  • Before putting the vehicle in drive, make any adjustments to the radio, plug your phone into the charger, connect to bluetooth, start any driving directions, choose your heat or cooling settings, and buckle up.
  • Pay attention while driving.
    • Converting miles per hour to miles per feet, if you are going 60mph and take your eyes off the road for 3 seconds, you drove 270 feet blind. That’s almost the length of the playing field in football!
    • In 2018 there were 2,841 people killed and an estimated additional 400,000 people injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. (NHTSA Summary of Statistical Findings, April 2020)

These are simple daily habits you can start practicing today. After a short period of time, they will become automatic and you won’t have to consciously think about doing them, you just will. As with all changes you make to improve your life, even the smallest things done repeatedly with intention, can have a huge impact.

For more tips on how to incorporate vehicle safety with your personal safety, make sure to get on the DAG VIP list by signing up here.

So, What Now?

So, What Now?

You may or may not have noticed, I missed the last blog email. I’m not even sure I can use the word “missed”. I didn’t forget I had a blog to write, I simply couldn’t focus the energy on sitting down to write it. I’m guessing you may be chuckling to yourself right now, saying,

“Yea, I hear you Kelly. I’ve struggled to focus energies on doing things I used to do too”.

Today marks exactly one month since my kids’ school sent home suggested learning objectives on a Friday in case there wouldn’t be school the following week. It was one month ago that we walked to a neighbor’s house so the kids could play together outside, while the other mom and I talked. I remember us not being overly concerned about what a potential Covid19 response would be in our area. Maybe the school district would close for a week or two. Maybe we would be forced to take a mini staycation. That wouldn’t be so bad, would it?

That Sunday night, we received the pre-recorded phone call letting us know that schools would be closing for the next two weeks due to Covid19 and to help teachers prepare for online learning. That was the start of life as I knew it, being completely flipped on its head.

Monday brought the flurry of emails canceling situational awareness presentations and day-long trainings. Only four days earlier, I had looked at the month ahead and felt excitement for all the opportunities to help people see skills they already possessed, in a new way. To help each of them feel more confident in their ability to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. I felt like my company was finally turning a corner and gaining momentum. At the beginning of the year, I had participated in a vision board workshop and 2020 was going to be the year of growth. My word for the year was “mighty”.

Watching that momentum disappear in a matter of hours didn’t make me feel very mighty.

I’m guessing you probably have a similar story about how the pandemic shutdown affected you.

Loss. Uncertainty. Anger. Frustration. Helplessness.

Those first two weeks of shutdown were a rollercoaster of emotions for me. When my calendar reminder popped up to tell me that I had a blog to write, I dismissed it. What the hell was I going to write about when most people were stuck at home? I didn’t want to pretend that nothing was different in the world. I didn’t want to put on a fake smile and act as if my life was humming along as usual. I also wasn’t mentally in a place to process what I was going through.

Every day brought new information, new protocols, new restrictions, new challenges. I needed every ounce of energy focused on my family and establishing a new routine so my kids could feel safe and secure. I needed to figure out how to let the fires of DAG go down to hot embers without letting them go completely out. I needed to figure out how to support my husband, who is upper administration in law enforcement, while he was trying to figure out how to keep the officers safe and healthy, so they could keep citizens safe. Because a lot of those citizens were now on the front lines. Keeping grocery shelves stocked, figuring out how to reorganize the healthcare system to prepare for a potential spike in Covid19 cases, driving thousands of miles to keep the supply chain going with the increased demand for goods, and small business owners desperately trying to shift their model over night in order to save their livelihoods.

Everyone was affected.  It was overwhelming.

I realized the airplane passenger safety briefing applied now more than ever. Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.

I had to figure out how to take care of myself so I could help take care of others. Suddenly, my own words on how to become more situationally aware had another parallel in my life.

When I made that mental switch, I wasn’t back to the full strength, kickass Kelly overnight. I had to set up small, daily habits and commit to doing them every day.

I made a list of 5 things I would do every morning to help me get in a better head space.

  • Read my daily, faith-based message
  • Write down 5 things I was grateful for
  • Look at my vision board
  • Choose 1 thing I would accomplish for the day
  • Spend 7 minutes meditating

These were all things that were simple for me. They didn’t take a lot of time. Which is very important right now with 8 and 7-year-old boys’ home with me every day (did I mention EVERY DAY?!).

My mental health improved, and the emotional rollercoaster went from Six Flags level down to County Fair level.

When you start focusing on your personal safety skills, it’s important to start with small daily habits and commit to doing them. It’s not about only looking for a threat. It’s about being curious about your environment and noticing the things in it.

Pick ONE THING to look for today. Maybe it’s noticing all the different animals in your yard (squirrels, birds, rabbits, deer, fox, etc.) It doesn’t matter if you live in the city or in the country.  Tomorrow, pick something new to look for. Maybe it’s going for a walk and doing the Heart Hunters challenge (a Facebook group now over 800k members strong).

I wish I could tell you when the self-isolation recommendations will be lifted. I wish I could tell you what your life and daily routine will look like when all businesses can open back up.

It’s just like I wish I could tell you exactly what to look for to prevent you from ever being attacked. It’s how I wish I could tell you exactly which self-defense tool to carry with you at all times.

I can’t. I can’t see into the future. No one can.

Anyone who tells you exactly who or what to look for, or exactly what tool to carry in order to stay safe, is full of shit.

Right now, I simply want you to do whatever you need to do, to stay healthy and to stay safe.

Take care of yourself. Do whatever it is that you need to do, to take care of your loved ones. Don’t let someone else dictate how you should act right now. Give yourself grace and remember that you will get through this.

“Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient.”

-Steve Maraboli