My Defenses- Part 1, by Sarah Latimer

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So, in my last article, I referred to the young shepherd boy we read about in the Bible named David, who fought off a lion and bear while protecting his father’s sheep and boldly stepped into a one-on-one battle with Goliath who was taunting the Israelite army and mocking God. I am sure David had practiced his slingshot before engaging Goliath with only this one tool and no self-defense armor, and in the previous article I stated that we should be practicing our weapons also.

Now, let me just say right up front that I am not a military or defense professional nor am I anything close to a weapons expert. I don’t share my husband’s passion for weapons, but I very much appreciate and respect them and I gladly use them when necessary. Their great advantage is that they give us, women, a weapon of defense that can stop an attacker from making contact with us. To me, that is a huge benefit! I don’t want to have to wrestle with a 240-pound football player who has a knife coming at me! I want him “down” before that knife is at my throat!

I grew up with Daddy’s rifle at the top of the stairs and a handgun on his nightstand in the next bedroom as well as one under the seat of the car/truck/RV when we were on the road. I didn’t shoot much as a child, but he did teach me archery and knife throwing and other skills. I went hunting with him for deer, dove, quail, and even frog gigging, and I helped process the meat. I learned my anatomy with the deer hanging in our shop, as my dad was a medical professional. Obviously I learned to respect weapons at an early age, and it never crossed my mind when I was a small child to touch Daddy’s rifle. I saw its power and the damage it could do, so I respected it as something other than a toy.

I understand that a lot of women are afraid of “guns”. I hope that’s not you. However, if it is then you need to work on your thought processes. A gun is deadly but no more so (and probably less) than your kitchen knife, which you probably handle multiple times a week. You are familiar with your knife and know which side is sharp so you don’t run your fingers down that side. You know how to hold your knife safely and use it to accomplish the purpose of cutting, chopping, shredding, slicing, and dicing. You probably use it all of the time without much thought about the extent of potential damage the knife might have on you or someone else in your hands or the hands of an intruder. Still, you are cautious in how you grab it and handle it so that you don’t harm yourself and are yet able to accomplish whatever cutting task is in front of you. It is fact that a sharp knife is safer than a dull one because it requires less effort and pressure, yet some people prefer a dull one because they are afraid of a sharp blade. That’s an emotional and psychological issue that is a barrier to efficiently and effectively accomplishing the tasks in front of them. Some retraining of the mind is necessary!

Now, as much as television and the media would like to convince you otherwise, guns just don’t shoot by themselves and kill people! People kill people, and they do it not only with guns but with knives, fists, beer bottles, cars, stairs, rope, plastic bags, water, fire/smoke, and a many other everyday tools. A gun is a tool that can be handled safely and used very effectively. It just must be respected and taken seriously at all times. The simple techniques taught by the NRA and other shooting trainers give you a safe means for handling your gun. Simple concepts, like keeping your finger off the trigger until you are aimed and ready to fire, are key to safe use. Unless someone is pulling the trigger, that gun is not going to fire. Don’t fear gun ownership! Learn about them and how to handle them and get comfortable doing so.

I hope and pray that I never have to shoot or kill anyone, ever! However, if I am called upon to defend myself and/or my loved ones I believe I can. I practice shooting and employ a variety of self-defense weapons and tools wherever I go. I’m not anything close to a self-defense expert. Furthermore, I’ve been attacked and threatened on more than one occasion and, thank God, I have come out okay each and every time, even talking down a known assailant threatening me with a knife once, but you can’t count on that. You have to be ready if things escalate! (In my distant past, before I knew Hugh, I was also the victim of some domestic abuse, but I survived that, too!)

Ladies, none of us wake up in the morning knowing that today is the day that we will be attacked or that our home will be invaded or our child abducted. These things generally happen without warning. That is why we need to be ready all of the time! It is too late to learn how to shoot or figure out how your weapon works when that attacker is heading toward you!

I believe in trusting God first and foremost, but He has given us abilities and capabilities and expects us to do what He has enabled us to do. That is not the same thing for each of us. Some are disabled. Some are strong. Some are weak. However, we must do what we can and trust Him with whatever that is. We have read about a mother lifting a car off her child, but this doesn’t happen often. We can’t rely solely upon instinct; we should practice to have good instinct.

Here are some of the things I employ to avoid being a victim, as a lady going about her everyday business. Sure, I have some to-dos and know there is much room to make improvements, but here’s what I have in my toolbag right now, much of which can be applied by most women:

  • Stay alert and informed. Whether I’m working in the garden/on the property, in my home, at a friend’s, out shopping, or at the doctor’s office, I am watching what’s going on around me. It is very important to look around as you exit and enter any place to see what is going on, who is there, who is looking at you, and what seems out of place. If someone or something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts! It is better to leave and have to come back later than to encounter a problem. (Don’t fixate and become paralyzed in fear if someone is watching you, but do take action to get yourself out of an uncomfortable situation.) My parents, as a child and teenager, always told me that anytime I went to a party or anywhere, for that matter, and felt uncomfortable, I could use them as an excuse to leave. I’m a big girl now and I can choose to leave when I want to and for whatever reason I choose. Eluding confrontation is the best solution!

    On our property and at home, I watch out windows and look up from work frequently, but the animals help notify me of visitors or intruders. My best dog, a shepherd, stays right with me, indoors and out, and notifies of any non-family member approaching the property, whether they’re two-legged or four-legged. Her deep warning bark is alarming to most everyone, especially those with foul intent. Even delivery personnel want to drop their package and get out quickly. (I like it that way, as I don’t want them to feel comfortable hanging around.) Anyone scoping out an easy place to rob or threaten will likely think twice about messing with me while my shepherd is around.

    Video surveillanceis technology we have also employed, so that even at night, we can see what’s going on outside on the property. There are times when I’m home alone, and the camera system helps me to see whether it is a coyote or a person outside! The difference is whether there might be someone shooting back or not, and that determines my actions, including what kind of weapon I reach for. We employ other technology as well, such as an audio/intercom system that I will address a little later.

    In the car, I watch for cars that might be following me and I drive around the parking lot a bit before choosing a parking space to see what is going on and then look again before exiting my car. I try to park near the entrance and under lights. I exit my car and return to the parking space with my keys in one hand and the other ready to draw a weapon (gun or knife), if need be.

  • Be/look confident. I think this is one of the key issues for women. We are the physically weaker gender and, thus, are the target for predators. In the wild, the lion prowling for food will look for a weak and/or young animal of the herd to attack. It is usually the slower one that gets caught. Human predators are like animals. Unless their target is a personal vendetta, studies indicate that criminals are looking for the opportunity with least resistance. It has long been my intent to appear to a predator most resistant! I walk with my chin high and look people in the eye with a smile of confidence (and cheerfulness) on my face. To most, I believe I look happy. To the predator, I look confident and strong. When I was threatened with a knife by a mentally ill person I knew years ago, I was able to talk them down because of my calm confidence. He was shocked that I didn’t beg and plead for my life. It was such a shock that he was visibly shaken by my stance. I was cornered, but I took the attitude that if he was going to kill me I was going down with a fight and I knew where I would go if I died. He, on the other hand, was scared to death of his life and full of anger and confusion. There was a contrast between us on every level. He was physically stronger, but I was spiritually and mentally much stronger. I called out loud to God with confidence (not fear) and told the man threatening me to do what he had to do and I’d do what I had to do and when it was all over I’d have peace and love, no matter what happened. Then, I asked him if he would. In the end, I won. He dropped the knife and fell into a fetal position sobbing. Another time, I was approached late at night downtown outside the skyscraper building, where I was working years ago, by a man demanding money and making threats. He yelled at me, and I yelled back so loud that the police over a block away heard me chewing him out and came up behind him and arrested him. He was visibly shaken that I replied with verbal force back at him. That was twenty-five years ago. I was regrettably less weaponized than I am now. The only thing I had on my person at that time was pepper spray, if he had lunged at me before the police arrived. I didn’t have to use it because the police came quickly, but that incident could have gone much, much worse, especially if he was on drugs or more motivated! I’m better trained now.

    Even if you are handicapped and in a wheelchair, you can look people in the eye and have a demeanor of confidence that threatens them. They don’t know what you are sitting on. (It’s my opinion that you should have a weapon accessible to you. Handicapped people are more likely to be victims of a crime than others. In addition to a gun, you can use your physical devices for protection. A cane can be a great defensive or offensive tool; try to practice using it as such. Aim it where you can cause the most damage, and consider turning it over and using the handle as a club, if you can stand upright and do so.) Just because you have a mobility or hearing device or require some other assistance doesn’t mean you can’t be confident and prepared to defend yourself!

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