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Old 11-24-2008, 12:02 PM   #1
John Doyle
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Women's self defense/common sense

I live in Lincoln Park, which is a pretty nice neighborhood in Chicago. For the most part it is a really safe area to live. However, the last few weeks there has been a big spike in violent attacks on women. Haven't heard of any rapes; but, girls getting really badly beat up (teeth knocked out, head bashed on cement, guy hit with brick) and robbed. And these attacks aren't just happening at 3am. Many are happening at 5:30pm as the victims are walking home from work. As the economy continues to deteriorate, I am guessing things will get worse and worse.

My girlfriend and I live about a mile apart and I don't let her walk anywhere alone at night. If she's coming over, I'll walk to her place and walk her back. But, as these attacks are happening earlier in the night that really concerns me. I have walked her through many of the basic ideas to avoid being attacked and think that you can drastically cut back on you're chances of being attacked by staying alert and following some basic precautions. I am also trying to find her some new mace/pepper spray to carry. Any suggestions on a type that is effective and easy to operate under stress?

As I said, I think that as the economy continues to get worse and people get more desperate, we will see an increase in attacks across the country. Since there are so many law enforcement officers and people of various backgrounds on these forums, I thought it might be helpful to start this thread to give some of the female (and male) crossfitters suggestions on ways to avoid becoming a victim. Even things that seem obvious to some of us may be helpful reminders to others.
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Old 11-24-2008, 05:05 PM   #2
Lauren Hall
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Re: Women's self defense/common sense

John,
Great thread. A friend of mine was raped in college, and it got me thinking hard about basic safety issues that hadn't really hit home previously.

A few thoughts:
- I get nervous about pepper spray, etc., unless you've taken a self-defense class and have practiced using it. Ditto for most other weapons. Women actually have a greater chance of having their weapons used against them than of using them successfully. However, that just means that you should go to a good self-defense class, not that you should give up. Most sheriff's offices know of good self-defense classes in the area.

- If you are attacked, try to attract as much attention as possible. Run. Scream. Do whatever. A lot of advice says to just do whatever you're told so you don't get hurt. Unless this has to do with a wallet or purse, this is the stupidest advice I've ever heard. Fight back. The worst thing you can do is let yourself get led somewhere isolated. Your chances are much worse then.

- I take a quick inventory of stuff that's in my car/purse/messenger bag every once in a while, just to see what might be usable in a sketchy situation. Keys are great, pens work, etc. Small items that can be used to catch someone off guard are good to have around.

- Avoid the inside of large parks. I know this sucks, but I don't hike, run, or walk by myself except in active city parks where I know people will be during the day. Parks with lots of low-visibility or parks that are quiet during the day with lots of paths are simply invitations for attack. It totally sucks, but you have to be smart. If you do jog alone, avoid listening to music (or at least keep the volume very low). The biggest mistake someone can make is to not be aware of his/her surroundings. This is true of walking down city streets talking on a cell or listening to music too.

I'm sure there's lots of other good advice.... These are just thoughts off the top of my head. I'd look forward to hearing what other people have to say.
Thanks for starting the thread!
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Old 11-24-2008, 09:06 PM   #3
Derek Maffett
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Re: Women's self defense/common sense

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Old 11-24-2008, 09:47 PM   #4
Jill Zimmerman
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Re: Women's self defense/common sense

I was attacked alone at night walking. I screamed my head off no one cracked a door looked out a window nothing. And later a neighborhood watch sign showed up at that intersection - yeah what a joke. I got away from him and ran out directly in front of an oncoming car screaming and waiving my arms for help, they ran off the road to go around and get away from me, leaving me with him. I was not hurt physically but not talking about it any more.

I don't walk anywhere alone at night without a dog, hopefully a dog that bites. AND ANY OF YOU MEN that let your girlfriends, daughters or really anyone walk alone at night should not.

For a while here couples were being beaten seriously beaten up by groups of youths men and women and vegan daughter worked right next to the "projects" where these kids were coming from. I tried to make her understand the danger but didn't have much luck. She tried to get me to park over there and walk to a restaurant where we were meeting and I said no way in hell I'm parking over there.

Until it happens to you you have no idea. Being attacked was 30 years ago and I am still scared. Every one I have ever worked with downtown that just walked back home at 2 in the morning I begged them not to.

I was also sexually battered by a kid that I was "taking care of" in a boys group home. I was offered no counseling - I was only 23, he was not charged nor punished and later thrown out of the home for stealing the home moped. Gee you can abuse women but steal and your'e out. What a message to send. Another kid there feigned punching my pregnant belly (vegan daughter was in there) nothing really happened to him either. Shows you the "value" of women. Total bull****. Also life altering experiences.

Bottom line is if you think someone will stop and help you, chances are they will not. So why put yourself in that position by walking at night when bad people are out and potentially up to no good.

I saw a thing on pepper spray on TV and every single guy they sprayed it on was still perfectly capable of doing what he intended to do. It might deter a dog but not a person. Just don't walk alone.

I had a friend who was attacked and basically killed saw the white light and everything by a heroin addict hopped up and twice his size -literally. People in the hotel where he was had a deal with the addict to let him in to rob patrons. They even kicked him while he laid unconscious in a puddle of blood laughing when the girl called to get help. He was revived by the rescue squad, not sure how they even ended up there. Heroin addict raped the woman my friend was with too. Addict is in jail 25 to life. Friend survived but has severe PTS - afraid of everything. Locks every door and window and now I do too. Has to sit in a booth, can't sit at a table, says can we go can we go a million times while you are trying to eat dinner. His life is a wreck. Sleazy motel that has now been torn down. Don't put yourself in dangerous situations please. If you are uncompfortable there is probably a reason. Stay safe.

Last edited by Jill Zimmerman; 11-24-2008 at 09:56 PM..
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Old 11-24-2008, 10:51 PM   #5
Emily Mattes
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Re: Women's self defense/common sense

I've heard one of the biggest things women should do is to trust their instincts when it comes to walking around at night.

Also, remember, that you sadly need to be aware even when you are not walking around at night . . . This is not to disparage those who have been the victims of random acts of violence, but most acts of violence (sexual and otherwise) are from people who the women already know. Don't live in fear, but be confident, aware, assertive, and listen to your gut.

I was attacked on the subway once--it was towards the end of the line in DC and I was one of three people in the car. One guy started harassing me, the third person just sat at the front of the car and completely ignored the whole scene, even when I was screaming at him and pushing him away!

As soon as the train stopped though, I bolted off the car and started yelling my head off for security, screaming at the top of my lungs in front of the whole station that the creep had been attacking me . . . After one of the scariest incidents of my life doing that was incredibly satisfying. The creep was arrested and sent to jail for it.

If you are attacked, do not be afraid to speak up, no matter who the guy is.
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Old 11-24-2008, 11:15 PM   #6
Alicia Michel
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Re: Women's self defense/common sense

Eep. I haven't really got any real life advice. When travelling or walking home at night I'm usually in jeans and I wear a belt with a solid buckle. That's all the prep I do for danger. If you both are college students or you have a close knit neighbourhood, perhaps you can organise a group of people, mostly men, who would be willing to meet and walk women back to their places?
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Old 11-25-2008, 10:43 AM   #7
Lee Austin
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Re: Women's self defense/common sense

Quote:
Originally Posted by Emily Mattes View Post
I've heard one of the biggest things women should do is to trust their instincts when it comes to walking around at night.

Also, remember, that you sadly need to be aware even when you are not walking around at night . . . This is not to disparage those who have been the victims of random acts of violence, but most acts of violence (sexual and otherwise) are from people who the women already know. Don't live in fear, but be confident, aware, assertive, and listen to your gut.

I was attacked on the subway once--it was towards the end of the line in DC and I was one of three people in the car. One guy started harassing me, the third person just sat at the front of the car and completely ignored the whole scene, even when I was screaming at him and pushing him away!

As soon as the train stopped though, I bolted off the car and started yelling my head off for security, screaming at the top of my lungs in front of the whole station that the creep had been attacking me . . . After one of the scariest incidents of my life doing that was incredibly satisfying. The creep was arrested and sent to jail for it.

If you are attacked, do not be afraid to speak up, no matter who the guy is.
Yeah, this is huge. A lot of women are scared of "making a scene" or insulting someone and don't speak up or avoid certain situations. I highly recommend The Gift of Fear (wfs). It's all about how women need to learn to trust their instincts when they think something is "off" and how it's much, much better to be momentarily rude than to get trapped in an unsafe situation.
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Old 11-25-2008, 11:23 AM   #8
Amber Mathwig
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Re: Women's self defense/common sense

Situational awareness and trusting your instincts. Reminding her to hit hard with whatever she's got, and run. Running requires comfy shoes, but knowing how us females can be about our high heels, sometimes you just got to lose the heels.

I don't recommend the pepper spray. After having certified a few hundred people in the use of it, I agree it is effective, but only to a certain point (and that's the military grade stuff). Also, the possibility of her spraying herself while under stress or even just catching an overdraft of it could make her even more vulnerable. Unless of course you are willing to let her practice on you
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Old 11-25-2008, 12:38 PM   #9
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Re: Women's self defense/common sense

I had a similar situation as Jill- lived in a small town, was warming my car up to melt the ice so I could go work midnights. Opened the back door and found a guy in the back seat. I screamed and screamed. No one came. The guy started coming at me after I backed away. He only stopped when I dropped all my stuff and confidently told him he'd better walk the f away before I beat the shyt out of him. I was prepared to use the year of training I had at the time and disable the guy if possible.
I've been taking a very effective martial art for several years now. That and being aware of my surroundings are the two best things I have going for me.
I agree about not complying if being attacked or robbed. These days, my opinion is that people are apt to kill you moreso than in the past. I would much rather fight with my all than do nothing. That's just me.
The martial arts I take teach a scaled defense-you react with the level of force necessary to control the person without doing permanent damage. I don't care if that goes out the window. Once I am attacked (and hopefully before) I will disable that person however I need to.
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Old 11-25-2008, 01:36 PM   #10
Matt DeMinico
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Re: Women's self defense/common sense

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lauren Hall View Post
Women actually have a greater chance of having their weapons used against them than of using them successfully. However, that just means that you should go to a good self-defense class, not that you should give up. Most sheriff's offices know of good self-defense classes in the area.
I don't think that a blanket statement can be said like that, about women's weapons being used against them. Or at least not for all weapons. If a woman has a gun, there's a high likelihood she's gone through some form of training on self defense with that gun, and also how to avoid situations where the use of the gun would become necessary.

The NRA runs a "Refuse to be a Victim" course at specified locations none near you that I know of, but at the following webpage: www.nrahq.org/rtbav/ (w/f safe) you can find more info, and under the "find a seminar" link, it says: "If you do not see your location posted at this time contact the Refuse To Be A VictimŽ office at 800-861-1166 or email: refuse@nrahq.org for Instructor referrals."

I'm willing to bet there's *someone* in Chicago that can teach that class, just need to contact them.

NOTE: The Refuse to be a victim course makes no mention of having to own a firearm, though I'm sure it's covered in the course as well. My suggestion would be to own a small gun, preferably a revolver (if it misfires, you pull the trigger again and get a new bullet). You pull the trigger until it stops going bang, and you walk away with your life. It's not something to dink around with, if you're being attacked, there's a moderately good chance that they're willing to take your life if it comes down to it, or at the very least beat you senseless for hurting them (fighting back, gouging eyes, biting, kicking, spraying with mace, etc) if you don't win the encounter, so if you're going to fight back, you better make sure you stop their aggression, hence the "pull the trigger until it stops going "bang").

And not fighting back isn't even really an option. Remember the rest day topic a while back about kids who were kidnapped and didn't fight back? Those kids ended up dead almost every time, whereas the kids who fought and kicked and screamed and made a horrific scene, even if alone, are still alive.

So in short, have her pick up a revolver and learn to use it.
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