This page provides a forum for the editor of WPSN to address various topics related directly or
indirectly to women's personal safety.  The topics may vary widely across the spectrum of crime
prevention.  Since readers are encouraged to submit related comments or experiences that could
be of benefit to other readers, the opinions may not always agree with your own thoughts or
ideas, or even those of the editor of WPSN.  Your comments in response are welcome.  As this
column develops, it will be  interesting to see the direction it will ultimately go.  As editor, I am
looking forward to your comments.
Philosophical Outlook

A good self-defense program should reflect these philosophical points in its outlook.

  1. Women do NOT ask for, cause, invite, or deserve to be assaulted.  Women and men sometimes exercise poor judgment
    about safe behavior, but that does NOT make them responsible for their attacks and for an attacker's use of violence to
    overpower, control, and abuse them.
  2. Whatever a woman's decision in a given self-defense situation, whatever action she does or does not take, she is NOT at
    fault.  A women's decision to survive the best way she can must be respected.  Self-defense classes should not be used as
    judgment against a victim/survivor.
  3. Good self-defense programs do not "tell" an individual what she "should" or "should not" do.  A program should offer options,
    techniques, and a way for analyzing situations.  A program may point out what usually works best in most situations, but
    each situation is unique and the final decision rests with the person actually confronted by violence.
  4. Empowerment is the goal of a good self-defense program.  The individual's right to make decisions about her participation
    must be respected.  Pressure should not be brought to bear in any way to get a woman to participate in an activity in which
    she is hesitant or unwilling.
Although WPSN advocates using preventive techniques so as not to find yourself in a dangerous situation, it is true that these
situations can happen.  Self defense can help someone feel more secure in her own ability to defend herself.  It is for this
reason the following information is supplied.  However, each situation is different and there is no sure method of defense that
will always work, nor is there a method that can guarantee that you will not be victimized.
Common Questions About Self-Defense

  1. What is self-defense?  Self-defense is a set of awareness, assertiveness, verbal confrontation skills with safety strategies
    and physical techniques that enable someone to successfully escape, resist, and survive violent attacks.  A good self-
    defense course provides psychological awareness, verbal skills, and assault prevention skills, not just physical training.
  2. Does self-defense work?  Self-defense training can increase your options and help you prepare responses to slow down,
    de-escalate, or interrupt an attack.  Like any tool, the more you know about it, the more informed you are to make a decision
    and to use it.
  3. Is self-defense a guarantee?  There are NO guarantees when it comes to self protection.  However, self-defense training
    can increase your choices/options and your preparedness.
  4. Is there a standard self-defense course?  There are many formats for training.  They may be as short as two hours or as
    long as 8 weeks or a semester.  Whatever the length of the program, it should be based on maximizing options, simple
    techniques, and respect for women's experience.
  5. Must I train for years to learn to defend myself?  A basic course can help you develop skills and concepts.  Women often
    practice good self-defense strategies without knowing it.
  6. If I use physical self-defense, would I get hurt worse?  What does "hurt worse" mean?  Rape survivors speak eloquently
    about emotional pain long after physical pain heals.  The point of using self-defense is to de-escalate a situation and get
    away as soon as possible.  Knowing self-defense increases your options.
  7. How can I tell a "good" course from a "bad" one?  A good course covers critical thinking about assault prevention
    techniques, self-defense strategies, assertiveness, powerful communication skills, and easy-to-remember techniques.  
    The instructor respects and responds to your fears and concerns.  Instruction is based on the belief that women can act
    competently, decisively, and take action for their own protection.  Essentially, a good course is based on intelligence and not
    muscle.  It offers tools to enable a woman to connect with her own strength and power.

Dear Reader,

Have you taken a self-defense course that you found beneficial?  Please tell us about it.  Be sure to include the name of the
course and the city and state where it is located.  There could be more just like it in other cities.  I and your fellow readers look
forward to hearing from you.

Sheila Schneider
For crime prevention tips,
click on one of these links.
Women's Personal Safety Network
Women's Safety
Information That's NOT
Just for Women Only!
Copyright© 2008 WPSN
the studio.  She is quoted as saying "I have been in far worse situations."  According to the article about this incident, which
appeared in
The Reliable Source in the "Washington Post,"  December 19, 2008, co-anchor Joe Scarborough seemed more upset
than Ms. Brzezinski.  Actually, the paper quoted him as saying
"I am furious!"  

What is utterly amazing is that there is no mention in the article of the perilous situation in which Ms. Brzezinski placed herself.  
There is no discussion of why she was out in the dark, "just five feet from the door!" as Mr. Scarborough says.  Why was she not
serious situations before?  Then why was she not more careful?  

I'm not blaming the victim for being mugged, but I am blaming her for taking such an unnecessary risk with her life and wellbeing.  
I'm blaming the hotel for not ensuring the safety for a guest who must stand outside their door to get her ride.  I'm blaming the
mugger for everything else!

Women place themselves in these kinds of situation all the time; but, fortunately, all situations do not have a dangerous outcome.  
But why take the risk?  Jogging alone with ear buds in their ears.  Walking alone late at night.  Accepting rides with people they
barely know or may not know at all.  The examples could go on and on.

I do not advocate unjustified fear nor do I want to cause women to worry every time they go out.  But, come on, ladies, have a care.  I
do expect women to take their safety more seriously and become more active in preserving it.  What happened to Ms. Brzezinski
could have been considerably worse.

It's not going to happen to me or in my neighborhood -- until it does!  That is what we thought in a wonderful sleepy town in Anne
Arundel County, Maryland.  But a women was attacked, beaten beyond recognition, raped, and murdered -- at 10:30 on a beautiful
Sunday morning, while simply going about her day.  The point?  It can happen anywhere to anyone at any time.  Be smart.

Freedom to go about your life and do the things you enjoy comes from taking the precautions to feel safe and be safe.  Nothing is a
guarantee against victimization, but why not reduce your risk?  

                                                                                                                                                                                             Sheila Schneider