by team runhers
Your City, USA – A female jogger in (Your City) was attacked today by an unknown assailant. She is in critical condition in a local hospital. City police are on the lookout for …
We hear these headlines all too often. We are on a quest to help lead the way in getting women’s safety education out to as many women as possible. We have and will continue to feature articles and hold forums on women’s safety, bringing in experts to help keep us informed and more prepared.
Many of our women cover more ground – literally – than most other women in a given city. We are out running and walking early, late and whenever we can fit something in around our busy schedules. We are out and about shopping, running errands – you moms are shuttling kids to/from activities. Everyone is crazy busy – go, go, go! How many times in these hectic days have you stopped to consider how safe you are? Are making yourself an easy target for an attack? And what you would do if the unspeakable does occur?
The statistics on violence and sexual assaults against women are easy to find; it’s staggering. Enter Jennifer Gray, women’s safety expert.
We are excited to partner with Jennifer and Redline Gracie Jiu Jitsu to talk about the issues, to help you get a better understanding of how attack targets are selected, and, most of all, to make you more aware and encourage you to take more unnecessary risk out of your day-to-day routine. So to begin our work with Jennifer, we ask a few questions:
JG: Hello my friends!
Briefly, tell us how you got started in the field of martial arts and, more specifically, in your passion to provide women self-defense education and training/techniques?
JG: I never really knew what martial arts was until I met my fiancé. I was 24, and snagged this great guy, who happened to be the owner and lead instructor of a martial arts school. A few weeks into our relationship, he invited me to try a class. At the time, I was in a very bad place. My world was crashing down on me, and to be honest, I can’t believe I made it out alive. I hated myself, I had no self-worth, and I surrounded myself with very bad people. Now, it’s quite the opposite.
In the beginning of my jiu jitsu career, a teenage boy came into the gym; he was probably about 60 pounds heavier than me. Usually everyone went really light with me being that I was the only female in the place – plus, I was new. When that timer started, he had me on my back, holding me down with all his weight, his upper body smothering my face making it hard to breathe. He held me down the entire five minutes. When the timer finally went off, I went straight to the ladies room, and just started crying. I felt powerless, scared and a little embarrassed. I’ve never been held down like that, and I had nowhere to go. I dried my tears, tightened my belt, and got back on the mat.
That was the day that jiu jitsu changed my life. I didn’t give up. I kept going to class, and I got better. I am now an instructor, and teach women’s self-defense weekly. I learned that there is a solution, and that has never happened to me since. What seemed to be an impossible situation for me to get out of turned me into the person I am today. I like to say, “When life is 170 pounds of pressure holding me down, if I keep fighting, eventually I will end up on top.”
It seems more and more women are being assaulted, attacked and/or raped these days, and the attackers are becoming more and more bold. Is it really becoming an epidemic for women?
JG: I guess you could say that. It seems to occur in the news more often these days, but that’s not to say it hasn’t always been there, and we are just now hearing more about it because women are speaking out more. Studies show that fewer than 50 percent of women who are raped file a report because they are scared or think it is their fault. On college campuses, recent studies are suggesting that up to 90 percent of rapes are unreported. The crime rate is going up, and our city is growing, so the number of attacks rising is to be expected.
As you know, most of our women are trying to lead as active a lifestyle as possible. We encourage thinking safety all the time. What are some of the main things women should focus on as they go about their day?
JG: Predators are looking for the easiest, weakest, unsuspecting target. Look at everyone you see. Make eye contact. Don’t look away if some guy is checking you out. We are women, and we have a death stare. Use it – it works every time. They don’t want you to know they are looking at you, and most of the time we put our heads down and turn away because it is uncomfortable. If it’s uncomfortable, it’s inappropriate. When you boldly look them in the eyes, and give them a little look that tells them, “Hey, I see you, Creeper,” and they look away every time.
We mentioned some running specific tips for women in a recent post – there have been recent attacks on women in the community who were running alone at night. Here were our tips:
• Think safety before you run;
• Be smart. Common sense really does go a long way when it comes to safety;
• Run with a friend(s);
• Be completely aware of your surroundings, and run in open areas;
• Let people know exactly where you are running and for how long;
• Don’t run with your music at night;
• Run in well-lit and familiar areas;
• Carry your phone; and
• Wear bright reflective clothing.
What else would you advise them to be thinking about?
JG: I would agree, and most importantly, if they are running at night or early in the morning when it is still dark, find a running buddy. Runners get attacked from the back because the assailant knows you can’t see them – it’s one of the most common ways an attacker subdues his target. I would also recommend taking a self-defense class to know how to defend yourself before going out in the dark alone. Self-defense starts way before the attack.
Attacks happen many times without warning. If the unspeakable ever occurs, how do we keep our heads about us, and what are a couple of things we must remember?
JG: The assailant’s objective is to find an unsuspecting target, subdue them, exhaust, and then carry out the assault. If you are being attacked, it is probably not the first for the attacker. You deplete your energy by kicking, screaming and fighting to get away, and he expects that. If you can get away, that is the best outcome. However, if you can’t, there is a strategy to employ here, as well.
In the program I teach, we use what is called the “False Surrender.” Once the assailant has us on the ground, the last thing you want to do is freak out. Stay calm, breathe, and say, “I give up; I will do whatever you want.” At that moment, the attacker thinks, “OK, she’s done fighting,” and he changes his approach. He no longer has to fight to hold you down. That’s when we take advantage of that time while his thought process is changing to execute an escape, joint lock or a choke hole to put him to sleep. So you really have to get into the mind of the attacker and use his motive against him. It’s very empowering knowing you can choke someone to sleep with your legs by using proper technique.
Is there anything else you would want us to know?
JG: Be prepared for anything. Know that there is a solution out there, and you are worth defending. You can avoid being a target, and you should. We shouldn’t have to be scared every time we walk out the door or go jogging at night when it’s cooler. Women always will have a disadvantage against a man. Ignoring the facts does not make you less of a target. Level the playing field and learn how to defend yourself today. Education and having a plan is vital to your safety.
Finally, how do women contact you for questions or to enroll in one of your classes?
JG: Feel free to call me at 405-694-5523 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.