Arsenal In A BagDec. 4, 2006
Message to all female readers: The keys in your purse can be used for more than just starting a car or opening an apartment. Your hairbrush also is a dual-purpose device. In fact, several items in women's purses and pockets can be used for self-defense.
Keys can be used individually and en masse on a self-defense key chain, a 5-inch rod that allows you to slash your keys at the attacker.
Cell phones are deterrents when placed against the Adam's apple.
Use the hairbrush to poke an eye, and the handle against the neck.
With the pages squeezed back on a paperback novel, you can shove the book with full force against an attacker's forehead.
These are everyday items to use when a situation requires fast action, says author and speaker Erin Weed. Weed began her career as a speaker and author after one of her sorority sisters was murdered. She got FBI training and opened a self-defense class in Hoboken, N.J. She also wrote a book titled Girls Fight Back: The College Girl's Guide to Protecting Herself. She came to Baylor to sign copies of her book and give a self-defense seminar hosted by Alpha Delta Pi sorority and the Baylor Panhellenic Council.
Beyond purse contents, Weed says to keep the struggle public, and never to get into a car or go to a secluded area. Either fight or run, she advises.
Bastrop freshman Katie Sweany says she will most vividly remember the advice to hit at an attacker's face first so that he's distracted from covering his lower region.
While all of the techniques are for use during an assault, Weed also gives tips on how to avoid an assault by relying on instinct. Women often are assaulted by people they know, she says. "The most dangerous thing we do is ignore our initial feelings."
While walking, she advises using good posture and firm eye contact. She also advised staying alert by limiting distractions such as cell phone chats and iPods. "You choose to be aware of your surroundings, and it's a choice we should make every day," Weed says.
As for apartment security, Weed suggests an alarm that also lets down a wedge doorstop to prevent the intruder from opening the door wider. Changing the locks to a new apartment is also a good idea. Since owners and managers are not required to change them, 10 years' worth of tenants could have keys to the same apartment.
Weed advises that students should not post information online that could encourage stalking. "Our safety precautions have to advance with the technology."
Blanco junior Sarah Connell, coordinator for Weed's visit and ADP's liaison to the Panhellenic Council, originally planned for a safety event meant solely for sorority members at Baylor. But the vision grew so that the sorority opened the event to all Baylor women, especially freshmen, with help from ADP alumni and sponsorship from the Student Life Fund and Baylor Department of Public Safety. "We realize that DPS has done an amazing job keeping us safe within our Baylor bubble," Connell says. "But we wanted to give something to the girls that they could use outside of Baylor."
ADP president Mandy Rudolph hopes to invest in annual campus safety seminars, maybe having Weed host a seminar for men and women. "This is just the ground floor."
- Carlee Besier and Matthew Waller