“I highly recommend reading through this whole article, and not just the headlines. Share it - it could literally save someone’s life!”
In Boone, we have a lot to be thankful for: beautiful mountains, kind and caring people, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Sabeing on King St. We’re not known for being a high-crime area by any means, thank goodness, but this doesn’t mean that the sad realities of the world don’t apply to us. Bad people exist, people do awful things, and unfortunately campuses across the country are known to be areas where sexual assault can be epidemic (see The Hunting Ground movie).
As a self-defense instructor in Boone, I try to provide a realistic picture of violence for people, without making them think everyone is out to get them. The reality is that some of us will face violence in our lives, and we have no choice in that; what we can do is recognize the potential threat of violence, and work towards participating in our protection. You can be a “hard target”, and through training you can make yourself a force to be reckoned with.
Whether you learn to fight or not, here are 6 tips that can help you be safer and more prepared living in our beautiful town of Boone. I highly recommend reading through this whole article, and not just the headlines. Share it - it could literally save someone’s life!
1. Trust Your Gut
Trust your gut, trust your gut, trust your gut. Please. If something, or someone, feels “off” to you, don’t ignore that feeling! There are thousands of small inputs that we take in from our environment every second. Body language, inarticulable situational cues, little things that we can’t consciously reason through and understand in a moment, but which are extremely valuable nonetheless. Just because someone doesn’t literally grab you or move toward you does not mean “it’s nothing…”.
If something feels wrong to you, act on that feeling. Get out of the situation, move to the other side of the street, don’t go with that person, whatever it is. Your “spidey senses” are a lot smarter than you think. And hey, if you’re wrong, who cares! Be aware, trust your gut, and be confrontational.
2. Eyes Up, Ears Open.
Walking through Sanford Mall or King Street listening to your favorite song on a nice fall evening is one of those experiences that puts you in an awesome mood and makes you feel like you’re in a movie. Unfortunately, it also strips you of one of your most important senses in staying safe - your ears. And if you go double or nothing and have your eyes locked onto your phone screen at the same time - you are completely oblivious to what’s going on around you.
Situational awareness is one of the most important habits you can cultivate within yourself for self-protection, and it requires little more than using your senses to be in touch with your environment, especially in sketchy situations or times of day. Your phone, sweet and harmless as it may seem, is the arch-nemesis to an awareness of your environment. Do your best to stay off your phone and keep your headphones ever-tangled in your pocket while in public spaces. This is especially true for “transitional spaces” such as parking lots, apartment building entrances, etc.
When you’re entering or exiting a new area, unlocking your car, checking directions, replying to someone on your phone, or checking what room number your class is in for the 15th time - do a quick scan of the area around you. It takes a few seconds to do a quick scan of your surroundings before doing anything and yet can make the difference between catching a potentially dangerous situation early - or not until it’s too late.
3. Safe Ride
(Students only unfortunately) You may have lost track and drank a little too much to drive, or you might just be faced with the prospect of walking through campus or downtown alone at night. Safe Ride is an extremely valuable and FREE(!!!) service offered by the university to keep students safe. All you do is call Safe Ride and they will come and pick you up and take you anywhere you need to go on university property. Did I mention that it’s free?
Safe Ride is available from 7:00am - 3:00am, seven days a week (excluding holidays) during the Spring and Fall semesters. It’s only on the university property, so if you’re farther out you should use Uber, or Boone Student Beeper. Beeper has never led me or anyone I know astray, but the drivers are unregulated so it’s not as safe on paper as Uber. There certainly have been some reports of sketchy or creepy drivers, so it’s definitely something to be hyper aware of and intentional about in choosing your driver. (Again, traveling with a group is always better!) - Click Here To View Full Safe Ride Site
4. Be Confrontational (Be A Porcupine Fish)
I want to tell you a quick story. One time my Dad was coming out of the good ol’ Home Depot with two arms full of supplies. He, being the strong willed man that he is, challenged himself to fumble around and get his keys out and open the door without putting anything down (we’ve all been there). Suddenly, he heard a strange sound behind him, a “clacking”. Trusting his gut, being unable to turn around and address the potential threat, he yelled, “Back the f*%k off! Go away!” He knew that these transitional spaces would be the perfect place for an attack.He heard a “Whoa, sorry…,” and a little more clacking going away. Safe now, he put his stuff down and turned around to see an older man clacking away on crutches… ouch.
This is an important lesson though: HE DIDN’T KNOW. YOU. DON’T. KNOW. We need to look out for ourselves first before worrying about someone else’s feelings in these type of situations. Someone is walking a little too close behind you, keeps looking over, makes kind-voiced advances a little too much, whatever. You have a right to be confrontational, and you should.
Use your voice, use your body language - go from a cute little porcupine fish to become a big spiky porcupine fish at a moment’s notice. Make it clear that you are not to be f*cked with.
5. No Offense, But Don’t Depend on Authorities
Let me be very clear, this is in no way at all a bash on the brave men and women who work to protect our community.
Understand this: the responsibility for your safety lies first with you and not with government or police. Police response times vary, and violent crimes or sexual assaults can happen in moments. Not to mention the multitude of situations where you would not be able to take out your phone (or pepper spray, alert system, gun, knife, etc. for that matter) and dial 911 before faced with the hard reality of the situation.
This is why preemptive defense (situational awareness, trusting your gut, avoiding bad situations, being confrontational) and hand-to-hand combat skills are so critically important. You may not have space, you may not have time.
You should absolutely still call 911; just realize the help they bring may not come in time and you may be on your own. It’s a scary reality to face, but it’s important to come to terms with. It can also be empowering to know you can take steps to be more prepared, and make yourself a force to be reckoned with, despite your size or age.
6. You Have A Right To Fight
No matter how much we practice awareness and avoidance, unfortunately we may find ourselves in a physical confrontation. Regardless of whether or not you have ever learned to fight, and no matter your age or size, it is vital to understand that you CAN and SHOULD defend yourself physically, even if the attacker is only threatening you and hasn’t struck first.
Often, people will think that if they strike first they will only anger the attacker, which could in some cases be true. However, more often than not, an attacker wants an easy target. Statistics clearly show that your odds of survival are far greater if you do fight back. Aim for the eyes and groin, be aggressive, and make it count. Use the element of surprise to your advantage — strike quickly, and mean business. You may only get one chance.
7. Learn To Fight (Shameless Plug)
If you want to learn more, get stronger, be more confident, and learn to kick some ass: Evolve Self-Defense & Krav Maga offers practical and effective self-defense training, that is fun, realistic, and accessible, in a ego-free and empowering community. Krav Maga is a no B.S. Israeli fighting system that is about preparing people for real violence, not competitions or impressive flips.
We have classes Monday - Saturday every week, and you can try 2 weeks of beginner classes for just $10. No lie. All you can eat. Click here to learn more about what we do, and click here if you want to try 2 weeks.
Alex Phillips, Chief Instructor at Evolve Self-Defense & Krav Maga, explains what separates Krav Maga from other traditional forms of martial arts and combat.