Fold In The Cheese David!

Fold In The Cheese David!

Over the last five years, I’ve had numerous conversations with experts in the physical self-defense and violence prevention space. What I’ve found so fascinating is 80% of our conversations centered around the roles situational awareness and intuition play in helping women improve their safety and security. When I asked these experts for recommendations on trainings I could take or conferences I could attend to learn these valuable skills, they didn’t know of anything offered for the everyday person, especially women.

Yes, there are trainings available for threat assessment professionals in specific career fields. There are a few books on situational awareness, but most of them are written from a male’s perspective or use a lot of tacti-cool jargon (though me and a few other badass women I know are changing that and getting published!). Yes, there are lots of self-defense classes marketed to women, but they tend to focus on the physical aspect.

How can a skill, that is supposed to prevent you from getting into a physical altercation in the first place, have such limited resources available for women to learn from?  It doesn’t make sense!

Society should not be telling women they can’t do something because it MIGHT be unsafe. Bad things happen to people while they’re going about their day NOT doing anything risky. To live a life in fear because no one helped you learn the skills to keep yourself safe is wrong. It’s time to make a change.

Years ago, I received an email newsletter with “The top 50 things women could do to start being safer immediately”. Some of the advice in the newsletter included “don’t mix alcohol and strangers”, “don’t go through a drive-thru late at night”, and “don’t let a stranger walk behind you”.

Uhm…do you see what’s wrong with these so-called “tips”? The advice is not helpful! They could’ve saved space by just saying, “don’t have a life”.

Telling me to NOT do something is not helping me learn how to be safe. (I talked about this on IG here). My inquiry has always been, teach me how to be safe in any situation and defend myself when necessary.

Women have amazing intuition skills that we use every day in different capacities. As mothers, friends, co-workers, and partners-we are the best at noticing when something is off with someone. We immediately know something is different than the day before by the slight difference in how someone says, “good morning”.

Those same instincts can be used to tell you someone is trying to manipulate you. They can tell you someone is not behaving in a way you would normally expect to see in the coffee shop. They tell you the creepy vibe you get from that one person is real, even if everyone else seems to brush it off as “just being friendly”.

I created The Diamond Arrow Group to help all women realize they already have the skills to keep themselves and their loved ones safer. They simply need to look at those skills from a personal safety perspective. I act as the translator between the information and trainings geared towards experts in threat assessment and the everyday woman who wants to feel confident in her personal safety skills.

I know without a doubt, you can live life on your own terms. I’m here to show you how.

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!

10 Tips to Carry Yourself with Confidence

10 Tips to Carry Yourself with Confidence

I’m willing to bet that you’ve heard about the importance of first impressions. Whether it be walking into the job interview, meeting a prospective client, or giving a presentation to a group of people (even virtually!). How you walk into the room, make eye contact, the tone of your voice, and how well you listen, can all have a huge impact on creating a positive first impression. When you have self-confidence, the vibe you give off makes people feel at ease because they believe you know what you are doing. No one wants to hire someone or work with someone who makes them question whether or not they’ll be able to do what they say they are going to do.

Potential attackers use these same observation techniques to select their victim, but in reverse. They are looking for someone who doesn’t appear to have self-confidence. Someone who is distracted or looks afraid. Attackers do not want to select someone who looks like they will make noise to alert others or someone who gives off the vibe, “not me, not today”.

So, you’ve committed to carrying yourself with confidence, but what exactly does that mean? Here are 10 tips that apply to your career AND your personal safety.

  1. Know your strengths

When you know your strengths, it builds your confidence. If you’re not sure what your top strengths are, ask 5 people who truly know you and who you respect. A great resource that you can use to self-evaluate your strengths is taking a CliftonStrengths online assessment. Are you really good at reading body language? Practice guessing the mood of people you see as you go about your day. Consider this your excuse to people watch!

  1. Work on your appearance

How you walk and the way you dress not only makes a first impression on others, it can affect how you feel about yourself too. Whether at work or going out in a social setting, when your clothes fit perfectly and the whole outfit feels Pinterest worthy, you feel confident. Start with investing in at least one custom tailored outfit made specifically for you. Make sure you can move freely and comfortably.

  1. Be aware of your weaknesses

Having self-confidence means being aware of your weak points too. When someone refuses to acknowledge traits they need to work on, their work and personal relationships suffer. You cannot grow and improve yourself if you refuse to acknowledge your weaknesses.

  1. Move your body

Choose a physical activity you enjoy and do it on a regular basis. Don’t quit before you start because you’ve “never been the athletic type”. Take an honest self-assessment of your current physical state and pick one thing to do every day to improve it. Maybe it’s walking to the mailbox instead of grabbing the mail out your car window. Maybe it’s setting a regular walking date with a friend instead of meeting somewhere to sit and talk.

  1. Practice good communication

Being able to communicate effectively is crucial in both your work and personal life. Understand your emotions and where they come from, be able to articulate your feelings clearly and concisely, and practice active listening. If you have a different opinion on how to solve a problem at work, speak up and share your idea. If someone is bothering you because they are saying something inappropriate or standing too close to you, stay calm and speak up.

  1. Relax

Take deep breaths when you start to feel nervous or stressed. Do a power pose, take 5 seconds to remind yourself of your strengths, and stop overthinking all the possible outcomes of a situation. Focus on what you can control- you and your actions. Worrying about whether your presentation will be well received before you log on to the Zoom call will only hinder you. You may appear nervous and your voice might shake. That is not the first impression you want to give. When you are walking to your car after work or running errands, stay off your phone and scan your environment. Even better, have a flashlight in your hand and use it, especially after dark.

  1. Eyes up

Look people in the eyes when you meet them. It lets them know your attention is focused on being present with them. They will feel seen and heard and be much more receptive to listening to what you have to say too. It is not a staring contest though! If you are starting to work on making eye contact with people, look at the bridge of their nose. When you walk down the street, look around at others in your area. Potential attackers do not want you to see them approach. If you make even brief eye contact with them, they know you’ve seen them. You have just told them you’re confident in knowing who and what is in your environment and they won’t have the element of surprise.

  1. Stand tall

Your body language sends an especially important message to others. That’s why the power pose works so well. This is not a superficial tip! Straighten your spine, pull your shoulders back, and keep your head up. Plus, your chiropractor will be happy with your improved posture.

  1. Listen to your intuition

All your senses are constantly taking in information and feeding that information to your subconscious. When your subconscious decides something deserves more attention, it sends a signal to your consciousness via intuition. There are many ways your intuition will communicate with you and it’s not always with fear. Sometimes it’s a nagging suspicion you’ll be working late because you overheard co-workers talking about a problem they’ve discovered. Start paying attention to what your intuition is telling you about little things. The better you understand your intuition signals, the more confidence you’ll have in trusting the signals will come through for the big things.

  1. Consider a Personal Protection Device

What if you find yourself in a challenging situation? One of the best ways to alert anyone that you need help is a personal alarm. Mace® Brand personal alarms are easy to carry and send out a loud shriek with the touch of a button. They also have a built-in whistle that makes alerting someone easy. The alarms are legal in all 50 states, and are a popular choice for teenagers. It’s always best to be prepared and empower your loved ones with a non-lethal form of Mace personal protection.

Remember that building your self-confidence takes time. Everyone has struggled with their self-confidence at some point in their life. It’s not just you! Start building your confidence by picking one habit to practice every day. As you get better at the one habit, let the sense of accomplishment propel you to take the next step.

No matter who you are or where you are starting from, you can do this. By using your fears as motivation to better yourself, you build resilience too. You know you have overcome challenges in the past, and you will overcome challenges in the future. When you carry yourself with that knowledge, you will shine with confidence.

“Use action to cure fear and gain confidence.”

-David Schwartz, Magic of Thinking Big

This Part Rarely Gets Talked About

This Part Rarely Gets Talked About

Last night, myself and other 500rising instructors attended a virtual training presentation on “Legal & Ethical Implications – The art of explaining yourself”. The training was pre-work for the in-person training next month to attain Level II certification. As always, the information Tammy McCracken (founder of 500rising) shared left me thinking, why don’t more instructors talk about this in self-defense classes?

A lot of self-defense training focuses on the physical aspect. How to hit or kick, and the best places on the human body to target. Many times, the training includes a tool that a person can carry to defend themselves and the best ways to use it. This area of study is all about being in the fight.

Fairly new to self-defense training (at least in the everyday women’s self-defense discussion) is situational awareness. How to observe your surroundings using all your senses. How that information is fed from your subconscious to your conscious. How to take action to avoid a physical confrontation. Reading other people’s body language and improving your own non-verbal signals to give off the vibe that you are not an easy target. This area of study focuses on before the fight, and what I geek out about.

The area I don’t see many social media posts, blogs, articles, etc. regarding is the aftermath.

*You became aware of a potential threat to your safety and tried to avoid it. Situational Awareness

*You weren’t able to avoid it, so now you are in a physical fight to defend yourself. Self-defense

*The fight is over, and you are alive. Now what? Aftermath

In the first few minutes after you have defended your life and stopped the threat, how will you feel? What will you do? What are the things you need to do?

Your body’s natural response to a threatening situation is an adrenaline rush. It helps your body react more quickly. It makes the heart beat faster and increases blood flow to the brain and muscles. It’s your “fight-or-flight” reaction. It can also decrease your ability to feel pain and give you a burst of strength to do something you wouldn’t be able to do under normal circumstances.

Coming down from that adrenaline rush can make you feel weak, tired, drained, and barely able to speak in complete sentences. You may be injured and needing medical attention, but you are alive and have the opportunity to heal.

Defending yourself in a fight is an act of violence. You did everything you could think of to avoid getting to that point, but it happened anyway. You’re a mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend…you may never have thought of yourself as a woman who has a “mean right hook” or who knows what it feels like to do damage to human flesh. It can have a mental impact that lasts much longer than coming down from the adrenaline rush.

The aftermath of violence has physical, psychological, legal, and ethical impacts. The topic deserves its own focus as part of a well-rounded training program. The 500rising training last night went just over an hour and barely scratched the surface of aftermath. I’m looking forward to the in-person training next month to deepen my knowledge, so I can share it with you. Together, we can go from strength to strength and change the statistics on violence against women.

“Everything has the opportunity to heal, except death.”

-Kelly Sayre

If you liked this DAG blog post, why not share it with other women you care about?

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