If It Happened to You

By Kellene Bishop

There was a tragic crime committed here in SLC last night. A man held a gun on a clerk at a gas station located as part of a major grocery store chain. The clerk was in the windowed area that you typically see in the gas stations nowadays. The gunman demanded cash which the clerk did not have. As a result the gunman demanded that he go into the main portion of the store and get him cash. (This guy clearly is not operating with a full deck.) After the clerk left (and called 9-1-1 from the main store) a woman pulled up to fill her car with gas. The gunman approached her and demanded her money which she informed him she did not have. The gunman then ordered her into her car to drive him to an ATM machine. She complied and after giving the gunman money he then ordered her to get back into the car and drive to a cul de sac where he sexually assaulted her.  He then required her to drive a few more blocks away and then got out of the car and instructed her to drive in the opposite direction.

There simply aren’t any words to describe how heinous and shocking this crime is, however, it causes me to write about it in hopes that women will read this and learn how they should handle a similar prospect.

A couple of ground rules here first of all –it’s very, very important that when you have a gun pulled on you like this, regardless of how many movies you’ve seen, you need to remind yourself that the gun is a tool of control in the hands of most criminals—not a murder weapon.  Don’t fixate on the gun. Next, there should never be a situation in which you fail to be aware of your surroundings. As you pull up to the gas station, always select the most lighted and well seen area—even if it means you have to wait in line to get your fuel. When you get out of the car, look around at your surroundings.  Never face the gas dispensing machine directly, always at an angle. And if it has a reflective cover on it, keep an eye out in that reflection for what may be happening behind you.

As you are filling your car with fuel, use the reflection of your windows to help assess your surroundings. Don’t allow yourself to be fixated on the numbers running on the dispenser, the gas nozzle etc. Be aware of what’s going on around you. You can use the reflection in the windows of your car to help you with that as well as constantly moving your head around to see.

Now, on to some actions that I hope each woman reading this will remember. If you are approached while filling your tank, understand that the gas nozzle is a weapon. Pull it while spraying fuel at your would-be assailant and RUN behind shelter immediately.  Even trained police officers miss 70% of their firearm shots, so even IF the perpetrator is intent on shooting you for non-compliance it’s very likely he will miss even when only 6 or 7 feet away from you.  Remember, no matter which end of the gun you are, there will be climatic emotions. Even well-seasoned criminals rarely practice shooting moving targets—and they certainly aren’t able to do so in a manner which will mimic the adrenaline high that they’ve got running through their body. This surge of emotion slows the physical responses as all of the blood is diverted from their brain to other parts of their body for fight or flight. So unless you’re dealing with an expertly trained marksman, moving quickly to shelter is a viable solution. Even better is if you’ve got the opportunity to move to their weak side of their body. (That would be the opposite side of their body which is hold the firearm.  If they are holding the firearm with both hands, then they are likely to have one foot more forward of another.  That foot forward will indicate which side is their non-dominant side.

O.K. So let’s say escaping at the gas pump isn’t possible for some reason or another—and let’s say that I’m your typical female who is not packing heat.  In which case I can guarantee you that I would have tried to throw my keys and my wallet far away from the perpetrator and then run as described previously.

Which reminds me, carrying a firearm may not be realistic for you. If that’s the case then you should always view your cell phone as a necessary “weapon”—meaning that when you get in or out of the car, it’s with you so that you will always be able to call for help after you’ve run.

Moving on… Now let’s look at a situation in which he’s in the car, gun pointed at you, and telling you to drive somewhere specific. Put your seatbelt on, drive towards where he’s telling you, and then step on it, Mama, and run into something, preferably targeting the passenger’s side of the front car. As you’re speeding up, he can’t shoot you because you’re driving. The moment you start to aggressively speed up that gun is going to move because he will have a natural physical reaction. It is VERY unlikely that he will have put his seatbelt on. Most criminals aren’t going to buckle in for a nice leisurely ride to the bank. They will be on the edge of their seat with a minimal amount of balance. If he’s in the seat directly behind you, this is still a viable strategy and once you have selected your ramming target, get your right hand on the seat belt and be prepared to release it and evacuate the car. Yes, you’ll be in some pain regardless of how great your airbags are, but I assure you that victorious pain heals a lot better than victimized pain.

Now, let’s look at another scenario, one in which you’re armed. To be honest, it’s very unlikely that this would have happened to me simply as a result of preventative measures. But also, if the guy comes at me from the back of my vehicle, I suspect he’d notice the Women of Caliber car sign that takes up my entire back window.  I’m positive this has been a deterrent in the past as I’ve traveled at all hours all across the nation.  But enough about me—let’s talk about you. If you are carrying your firearm, I’d still go for the gas pump spray and run first if there is enough distance between you. But if not, I’d pull my firearm with my weak side pointed towards him in order to ensure the element of surprise, and then fire. This action means that two fundamentals need to be in place; 1) that you have practiced shooting across your body like that, and 2) that you have the mental fortitude to pull your firearm when necessary. Just so you don’t feel defeated in reading this advice, keep in mind that this is ideal. Dog gone it, if you have to pull your firearm and shoot it in some other way that’s comfortable to you, then do it and don’t worry about the physical angle. It’s simply offered as a strategic suggestion and one in which I’m comfortable with after practicing it for years.

In spite of many women taking to carrying firearms nowadays– like never before in history—I  find that the majority of them still are not carrying them on their person for whatever reasons.  Instead they are in their purses. I have a firearm in my purse as well. As such,  I have literally practiced a specific response repeatedly in which I feign a frightened and frenzy response to a would-be criminal in an attempt to get my “money” out of my purse, only to be able to grab the trigger of my firearm, point the purse at him, and shoot through the purse towards the perpetrator. If you are unable to shoot through your purse (easier done with a revolver rather than a semi-auto, depending on the type of purse you carry) then you should definitely be practicing a quick-draw movement of your firearm from the purse.

As I traveled cross country over the last month and half, I drove through several states which would prefer women to remain easy targets and have minimal ways in which I could be licensed to carry a firearm, or they do not recognize my Utah Concealed Firearm permit. As such, every time I got out of the car to fuel up the car or to get food or whatever, I always had my Asp weapon on me, as well as my finger on the trigger of my long-distant red-dyed pepper spray. (The dye is much like what they put on money in the event of a bank robbery and it will “mark” the perpetrator for two weeks.) If the woman who was attacked had either of those on her, along with the mental fortitude and physical rehearsal needed to use those defenses, she would have had ample opportunity to strike effectively and run. I can’t imagine she would have had to get in the car with the criminal in the first place.  Either of these weapons can be used effectively with a minimal amount of physical strength and either one will still provide you with an element of surprise which successfully interrupts the synapse of the criminal’s mind.  Remember, he’s probably talked to himself in the mirror, planning his bad-boy bully actions. But I assure you he didn’t practice with an aware and strategic victim in mind. The moment you interrupt his synapse, you’ve got yourself a suitable distraction and you need to take advantage of it by getting away as quickly as possible.  (The throwing of the purse and keys accomplishes this as well in most scenarios.)

In case you weren’t aware, getting into the car with a criminal is one of the worst things you can do and it should be your number one priority to avoid. Use the panic button on your remote control. (Yes, this means stop leaving your keys in the car when you’re filling it up.) Lay on the horn, etc.

The most important key to escaping the same fate as the woman in this story is to mentally prepare yourself for it and the actions you intend to take.

For any questions or comments on this article, please leave a comment on the blog site so that everyone can benefit!

 

Copyright Protected 2011, Women of Caliber and Kellene Bishop. All Rights Reserved. No portion of any content on this site may be duplicated, transferred, copied, or published without written permission from the author. However, you are welcome to provide a link to the content on your site or in your written works.

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The Win Before the Fight

by Kellene Bishop

I’ve been reading a great book over the last couple of weeks, Molon Labe. In it the author reminds the reader several times that all fights are decided before the battle begins. The point being that it’s the level of preparation which takes place before a battle which determines the victor.  In the case of the self-defense of women, I advocate consistent, challenging practice which will ensure successful self-defense. While the attacker may have life-long experience as a bully or a law breaker, it doesn’t make him/her fully prepared for their battle with you directly. However, through consistent mental and physical rehearsal to apply to multiple “what if” scenarios, you are leagues ahead of any assailant. And thus your battles are already won before they even begin.

Even better, confidence, calm, presence of mind, necessary tools, and a clear conscience are the fruits of such preparation—even if you are ever called upon to defend yourself. There is simply no price of time or money that can be put upon such fruits, in my opinion.

This past Saturday I took a couple of my girlfriend’s children to the dollar theater to see “Shrek 4.” Both children were under 12, with the youngest being only 9 and who also has Asperger Syndrome. Unfortunately, by the time we were able to get into the theater for seating, there were very few options left for 3 people to sit together. Thankfully one of the theater employees escorted us to a side row of 4 seats, with the outside seat being occupied by a hefty man. The movie had just begun and so the employee quietly leaned down and requested the man allow us to scoot by him and be seated.  As if he had just been asked to relinquish control over his own private remote, and give up a years worth of beer, and run a 5K marathon, he responded quite put out.  His only “effort” to allow us to pass was to spread his overstuffed sausage legs further apart. Yes, it was so attractive,–not—and a bit creepy. Because of his size, it was still a bit difficult for the kids to get past him, let alone myself, who is also quite chubby. It would have been so much easier if he had simply got up from his seat, and stepped into the aisle a moment.  I suppose that I’m a bit spoiled nowadays with this expectation, as my husband certainly would have done the same thing for us and any stranger. Needless to say, it was irritating to have an example of such rudeness displayed to the kids.  Well, being the somewhat sassy person that I am, I just couldn’t hold it in and it had to be heard. I just had to say it. And say it I did. “Well, I guess chivalry is dead”, I quietly demurred.

I didn’t have any anger when I made this statement, nor did I shout. I suppose that a kinder person would have just kept quiet and tolerated his rudeness, but I guess I’m not very good at keeping some of my thoughts to myself. Having said my two cents, I realized that such an inconsiderate man would have been compelled to say something in return, but I suppose I had simply expected an apathetic “whatever” from the sweating, heavy breathing mammoth.  Not that I expected an apology in response to my comment, but I was a bit startled with what did come out of his mouth. “Why don’t you just shut your mouth or I’ll punch you in the face!”

Wait a minute.  Did you really just threaten to physically assault a woman with two kids simply because she called you out?  Really? This was your very first instinct, to threaten physical violence in a packed movie theater without a care in the world as to the consequences?  This was your knee jerk, comfortable, standard response?  Folks, that’s saying a whole heck of a lot right there!  Now ladies, understand what I’m about to share with you here.  I’m only 5’2 ½”—yes, you’ve got to count the ½ inch. *grin* And I’m just over 200 pounds. So no, I’m not an imposing person to deal with physically. In fact, I suspect that I’m looked at as an “easy mark” by some fools due to me being out of shape.  This man was approximately 6 feet and weighed probably about 300 pounds.  In spite of these physical factors, combined with his revealing physical threat right off the bat, , I was not frightened. In fact, it’s probably my lack of fear of any repercussions which I thought I could handle, that I uttered my initial sentence within earshot of him. I was calm and confident. In fact, my only concern at the time was that I didn’t want to cause the kids to feel uncomfortable—especially the youngest. So I simply replied, “I’m not trying to fight with you. You could have simply been nice and let us in. It was two kids for crying out loud.” His response, “Shut the hell up or else.” I must say, I was a bit shocked at his angry behavior in response to such a small incident and in spite of there being plenty of people surrounding him, he seemed to posses no shame, no modicum of morality, and certainly no care in the world about anyone else. It was easy to see that he was comfortable with his rage and his attitude against others who inconvenienced him. Since I would be sitting beside him during the course of the movie, I decided that I would make clear to him that I wasn’t quite who he thought I was. While it may seem overly dramatic, given his “first impression” I saw the faces of various women in my minds eye, who may have been the brunt of his societal standards. I’ll be honest. There was a point when I asked myself if the opportunity would present itself for me to use my Asp on this guy. I know. I know, just a titch warped. As such, I looked right at him and said very clearly “Sir. I’m definitely not the woman you want to mess with.” He turned his head to me for a moment as if to size me up.  He then sarcastically replied, “Oh. I’m really scared.”

“Good! That’s just where I like ‘em. Overconfident and unaware,” I said, still looking directly at him.

He then turned his head back to the movie and said “just shut up and watch the movie. That’s what you paid for.”

I decided that I had said enough at this point and ran the risk of upsetting the kids if our voices got any more elevated so that they could hear.

Now, there’s a reason I’m telling you all of this and it’s not for a purpose of self-aggrandizing. It’s because there are two important things for you to learn from this scenario. First of all, I was told by one of my friends that I should have said “Let’s see how scared you are with a forty caliber pointed at you.”  I suspect that my friend was just getting in to the mood of things in this comment, but if I had said something to that effect, I actually could have gotten myself in a whole lot of trouble. I would have easily been accused of inciting a riot, “brandishing a weapon”—even though I wasn’t literally showing my firearm, disturbing the peace, and lastly I’m creating a threat. More importantly, if a person ever truly does feel threatened in such a situation, you certainly would not want to show your cards like that. If you truly feel threatened, then do something about it. Act, not react.  In this case, I felt that for the time being this guy was just full of himself and didn’t like being called out by a girl.  If I had truly felt threatened, then it would have been within my legal right to have physically assaulted him with non-deadly force.  Yes, in such an instance I, being out manned in weight and height, would have been legally within my rights to have “thrown the first punch” so to speak. As women, it’s not necessary for us to get hit, shoved, beaten, etc. by a man first before we respond. I realize for some of you, that may be hard to conceptualize. But after Mr. Sausage made his first physical threat of punching me in the face, I would easily have been in the right with a solid punch to his wind pipes, or whatever other physical maneuver I would have felt necessary—enough to minimize the physical threat of this man. However, that’s only the case if it was me, short and chubby, against him.  Had a 6 year old boy said that to me, then I would not be permitted to proactively defend myself. It all boils down to the level of threat and the weight of advantages, vs. disadvantages. For example, if it had been my husband who was being talked to that way, he would not have gotten away with a first strike because of his training, physique, and the fact that he was armed. In order for a well-trained man to have responded to this threat, Mr. Sausage would have had to make a physical threat imminent.

So, did I just sit there and watch the cute movie and not give this anymore thought? No, that would have been foolish on my part. I was strategizing, actually, in the event that my leg bounced just the wrong way to make him mad, or one of the kids aggravated him if they had to squeeze out to go to the bathroom.  So, I made sure that my Asp was in my grasp, my pepper spray was ready to spray, and I discreetly removed my knife from my purse and put it in my pants pocket. I was ready if I had to defend myself.  But, I also recognized that the two kids were a liability to me if there was an altercation. So, I texted my husband and invited him to join me at the dollar theater. Through a series of texts he was brought up to par on the scenario, and secured a seat right behind Mr. Sausage in the theater.  I casually made it obvious to Mr. Sausage that I knew the man sitting right behind him. When the movie was getting ready to wrap up, Mr. Sausage decided to exit before all of the mushy, happily ever after took place in the film. All he left behind was the stench of his body odor and a lesson learned. No regrets. No fear. No rattled children. All was well.  As the children and I exited the movie theater, all they talked about was how cute the movie was. They were impervious to the problem, didn’t notice that my husband had joined us or that I had additional contents in my various pants pockets. We were able to keep everyone else safe without any stress or concern.

There’s one other thing that I want to share with you. While I was sitting there, enjoying the movie, I thought about you. Yes, you.  You; who may lack the sufficient confidence necessary to handle such a situation. You; who may be lacking in the appropriate tools of leverage necessary to handle such a situation.  While a firearm would not have been appropriate self-defense tool for this particular level of threat, nor was the environment appropriate; would you have been essentially unarmed otherwise? I decided that this man had obviously pushed around, without challenge, too many women in his life thus far. I want to do my best to ensure that you are not one of them in the future. So, I decided to share this little story with you. I hope it provides you with some food for thought and that you will see that occasions for vital mental and physical self-defense capabilities self-defense are not limited to robbery, rape, or a home invasion. And they are not all solved with one particular tool each time.  The great benefit of really internalizing and learning self-defense though, is that you can walk away from such circumstances without any regrets, and with your confidence still in tact.

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For any questions or comments on this article, please leave a comment on the blog site so that everyone can benefit!

Copyright Protected 2010, Women of Caliber and Kellene Bishop. All Rights Reserved. No portion of any content on this site may be duplicated, transferred, copied, or published without written permission from the author. However, you are welcome to provide a link to the content on your site or in your written works.