WPSN.net Blog

Crime Prevention Tips for Women – But Not for Women Only! Visit www.WPSN.net.

Safety of our children

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This message will be short.  With Mother’s Day just past and Father’s Day coming, I felt the need to comment on the safety of our children.

Are you as frustrated and angry as I am when I read the newspaper or hear on the news that another child has been abused, neglected, or lost?  Nothing hurts as much as knowing a child has been injured in any way by a vicious adult.

Don’t be naive when it comes to children–to think that telling children not to go with strangers, not to talk to strangers, or similar familiar warnings is going to keep them safe.  Don’t be mistaken that a youngster will actually be able to withstand the draw of a charming stranger, even if this child answers all your questions correctly about not talking or going with strangers.

Until children have the capacity to discern danger and the ability to take cautionary measures against such danger, they cannot protect themselves or even evade a sinister person.  You have to be there to see to their safety.  Some children may have this ability by age 10, some not quite so young.

I refer all parents to one of my favorite authors, Gavin De Becker.  He wrote a wonderful book about the need to be diligent regarding the safety of our children - Protecting the Gift–Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane).  This book will help give you insight in protecting your child.  Also, please visit the www.WPSN.net section on safety for our children for more information.

Written by Administrator

May 16th, 2010 at 8:08 pm

Violence Against Women & Children – Domestic Violence

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There are men in power who just do not get it.  This is evidenced on the judicial bench and in state legislatures.  In particular, the fickle personality of the Maryland General Assembly in respect to domestic violence would be laughable if it wasn’t so dangerous. 

On the one hand – there is evidence that the House and Senate would understand the need for stronger laws dealing with domestic violence.   In her article Abuse Bills Tug at Several Maryland Lawmakers Personally in the Washington Post, March 7, 2009, Rosalind Helderman describes the experiences of senators and delegates who have personally witnessed domestic violence in their homes.  Knowing that there are legislators with first-hand knowledge of the horrendous effect of this violence, it is reasonable to expect that there would be understanding and support for the need for the strongest possible legislation dealing with this issue.  HA!

On the other hand – just one year later, evidence is very clear that there are also legislators who are still mired in the male-centric, antiquated perception that women and children are not to be taken seriously when the topic is domestic violence–even after the woman’s predicted outcome becomes reality.  In her article Maryland’s Roadblock to Helping Victims of Abuse in the Washington Post, March 14, 2010, Eileen King, regional director of Justice for Children’s Washington office, writes about the bill sponsored by Del. Sue Hecht (D-Frederick) which would change the level of evidence needed for the issuance of final orders of protection – from “clear and convincing evidence” to “preponderance of the evidence.”

Ms. King’s article focuses on the black hole known as the Maryland House Judiciary Committee, at least as it relates to bills dealing with violence against women and children, and sexual crimes in particular.  Ms. King focuses primarily on the statements by Del. Luis Simmons [D-District 17].  During the hearing this year when witnesses spoke in support of this new bill, apparently Del. Simmons felt compelled to denigrate a witness by denouncing her credibility when, in 2006, she made statements defending her request for a final order of protection, stating her fear for the safety of her children at the hands of her husband–even though her husband did in fact murder her three children in 2008.  Can anything justify Del. Simmons’ remarks?  Is there anything that can be more repugnant and ludicrous from a state legislator?

Unfortunately, the message in the second story is much more common than the first.  It seems that no matter how many members of a state legislature have witnessed first-hand the effect of domestic violence, men in power continue to express obscene and damaging remarks toward victims of this violence.  But Del. Simmons is not an anomaly, nor is this a recent trend in attitudes. 

In 1993, Judge Thomas J. Bollinger handed out a light sentence of probation before judgment to Lawrence Gillette who was guilty of raping an 18-year old employee who passed out from drinking and was put into Mr. Gillette’s bed.  Judge Bollinger described the situation in which Mr. Gillette found himself as a “dream of a lot of men [to find an unconscious woman in his bed].”

In 1994, Judge Robert E. Cahill sentenced Kenneth Peacock to 3 years [with 18 months suspended] for killing his wife hours after finding her in bed with another man.  Judge Cahill made statements that clearly indicated that he could not imagine any man not reacting the same way. 

So, as you can see, the history of powerful men touting the “boys will be boys” attitude as it relates to women has been going on a long time.  Aren’t you tired of this!  I am.

Written by Administrator

March 20th, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Posted in General, Victimization

Crime Prevention – Does the Police Know What to Tell the Public???

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Before you read this, let me be clear as to my perception of personal crime prevention and police advice – police report such crimes, police catch perpetrators of such crimes, but police seldom can prevent such crimes as I discuss below.  And, unfortunately, the topic of the conversation below is as relevant today as it was 20 years ago.  And my perception of police’s ability to prevent sexual assaults of women is still the same.

Twenty years ago, fall of 1990, there was a terrible weekend for women in the Washington DC metro area.  Why was this particular weekend so terrible or, for that matter, different from other weekends?  Women were being abducted in numbers, sexually attacked, and dropped in other areas of the city.  Yeah, so what’s new?  Women were attacked all the time.  So, we watch the news, we yell at the reporter and then at the police for not protecting the citizenry.

But on this particular weekend, in October 1990, what was most offensive and why this weekend stands out among the other terrible weekends is that women were abducted in groups of 2 and 3, in group numbers that just days before police were advising would ensure their safety.  You think you are safe while with your friends, right?  What was not considered in the calculation is that perpetrators simply see such a tact as a challenge and they were meeting the challenge with success that weekend.

I was screaming at the police while watching the evening news that Friday night and again Saturday night as more women were abducted and assaulted.  I was yelling at my husband “What is wrong with your gender?”  Poor husband had nothing to offer except that he was angry too. 

And the police continued to give the same ridiculous advice and couldn’t seem to come up with anything more useful–they actually seemed perplexed.   Nevertheless, women heeded their advice and didn’t travel out after dark if possible and took precautions at night when they did have to go out.  And guess what, being the naive beings we tend to be, women thought getting things done during the day was the remedy.  WRONG again!

The Sunday of that weekend, a neighbor of mine, a former high school classmate, went about her business running her errands at the local shopping center of a sleepy little town in Maryland, naively blind to the danger lurking nearby.  At 10:30 on a beautiful Sunday morning, this beautiful 42-year old mother and wife, was beaten, sexually assaulted, and killed.  She was doing exactly what most of us do.  This was not at night or in a bad part of town–which left the whole town wondering “How did this happen? And if it happened to her, what can the rest of us possibly do to prevent it from happening to us?”  All our anger and anguish needed to be directed. 

That’s when I created the Greater Women’s Information Network (G.W.I.N.)–a resource for getting out the information to women that could help prevent such heinous crimes.  For 10 years, I tried to spread the information that specifically addressed reducing one’s risk of victimization for women, but not for women only.  For those who attended the workshops and seminars, the information was received with gratitude and appreciation. 

But, unfortunately, over the years, women are still making decisions that place themselves in precarious situations.  That nothing happened to them or that nothing more serious happened to them is a cosmic alignment of blind luck and happenstance.

PLEASE take your own personal safety very seriously.  Take an active role in securing your safety and this doesn’t just mean learn self-defense, which is fine if you are fit, learn the lessons well, can think quickly under enormous stress, and remain alert.  Or you have some magical means of never getting into dangerous situations (which you must share with all of us).  

What each of us CAN do is learn how to reduce our risk of victimization.  I, personally, have some physical limitations so I need to prevent, as best as I can, getting myself in precarious situations in the first place.  Go to www.WPSN.net to learn more about reducing your risk of victimization, print the sections of most interest to you, and share the information with your family and friends.  Your personal safety is PRIORITY ONE!

Written by Administrator

February 7th, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Posted in Victimization

Crime Prevention Tip – That “Uh Oh” Feeling

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During workshops and discussions on preventing victimization, I always emphasized the importance of listening to that “uh oh” feeling in your gut, mind, or anywhere else it presents itself to you.  This is the feeling you get when you walk out of store and you see that man over there casually leaning against that brick wall.  You say to yourself “Gee, should I ignore him or should I fear him.”  Often times, we may say to ourselves “Oh, don’t be a ninny – always being paranoid that someone is out to get you.”  And we proceed to our car.  This is an all to true scenario, and it did lead to an assault.  Even if 99% of the time it never leads to anything, do you want to be the 1%.  I don’t think so.

This “uh, oh” feeling is that feeling you get when you get to a stop light and see a group of men loitering on the corner.  What do I do now???  Or you don’t like that the ATM is on the side of the building away from anyone’s view.  Are you putting yourself in jeopardy – uh, oh!  The apartment you are looking to rent causes you to walk through outside walkways that are not visible to the street – Oh, my, could someone be lurking — how silly!  NOT!

Each of these are real, serious occurrences – not fiction.  And each is a disaster waiting to happen to an unfortunate person who may not have paid any attention to the signal that was very real and very present in the gut, chest, head. 

I don’t want you, the reader of this blog, to EVER put yourself in such a position as to jeoparidize your safety – no matter how silly you feel as you take steps to minimize the potential danger – like going to the manager of the store to walk you or watch you go to your car, or asking for an apartment with a front door visible from the street, or pass the poorly located ATM machine for one that is plainly visible in a busy area.

None of these precautions is silly or indicative of paranoia.  They are very simply SMART!

So you can imagine how I felt when a good and important friend said that he finally will pay attention to his gut.  I was thrilled to hear it.  It only took a mugging to change his mind –a very close call, actually.  He felt uncomfortable when he turned onto the street but ignored his body’s own message.  Luckily he was only minimally injured but that was because he was larger and stronger than his assailant and the mugger had no weapon.  Ironically, he had taken other precautions, such as putting a small amount of money in a pocket should anyone threaten him for money.  But now, he told me that he will definitely pay attention to his “Uh oh” feeling in the future–and I am so relieved he will.

And I hope you will too.  For more information on this “sixth sense,” please visit www.WPSN.net and read The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker, an excellent book on how the gut feeling can save your life.

Written by Administrator

January 31st, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Posted in Victimization

Rape, Sexual Assault, & Domestic Violence Resources

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WPSN.net is a clearing house of information aimed at reducing the risk of being victimized.  But sometimes no matter how well you think you are prepared and judicious in securing your safety, bad things may happen.  Victims of rape & sexual assault as well as domestic & dating violence may find themselves bewildered as to how this horrible thing happen to them, what to do now, how to leave, whether to report, etc.  This list can be endless for a varity of reasons. 

Victims of these crimes are petrified, feel alienated from friends and family, may be scared to leave because they have no means of financial support, fear staying and leaving in equal measures, need to support children, don’t know where to go even if they do leave, hold tremendous guilt or responbility for the crime that victimized them, and, ultimately, feel hopeless.  As friends or family members of a victim, sometimes the best we can do is give the victim resources she or he may use to move foreward–and our actions must be immediate. 

For this reason, I feel it is very important to post this list of phone numbers and websites that you, as a friend, acquaintance, or family member, can provide.   There may be even more resources in your state, your county, or your city, that are available to victims of rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence, such as crisis centers or safe houses.  This list is a good beginning.  Please visit www.WPSN.net for more information in reducing your risk of becoming victimized.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), 1-800-787-3224 TTY, or www.ndvh.org

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence [NCADV] - 303-839-1852, www.ncadv.org

National Sexual Violence Resource Center -717-909-0710, www.nsvrc.org

NCADV Public Policy Office; 1633 Q St NW # 210 · Washington, DC 20009; (202) 745-1211; Fax: (202) 745-0088, publicpolicy@ncadv.org

Face to Face, 800-842-4546, www.facetofacesurgery.org works with NCADV (see above) to help victims of domestic violence with facial injuries.

Written by Administrator

January 31st, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Preventing Victimization — Don’t Take Your Safety For Granted?

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As Mika Brzezinski, co-anchor of Morning Joe, on MSNBC, stood on a street in Washington, DC, she was attacked and mugged.   Ms. Brzezinski was standing outside the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C. at 4:55 a.m.  She was waiting for the ride that would take her to 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 on 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, if she had been in more serious situations before, 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”– famous last words, until it does happen!  Too many of us have experienced the loss of someone in their neighborhood, where such things NEVER happen! 

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?  SO, PLEASE, THINK BEFORE PUTTING YOURSELF AT POTENTIAL RISK.  For more information on reducing risk of victimization, go to www.WPSN.net.

Written by Administrator

January 23rd, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Posted in Victimization

Self-Defense – Is it for You?

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Although www.WPSN.net advocates using preventive techniques so as not to find yourself in a dangerous situation, it is true that dangerous 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.

Philosophical Outlook

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

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.

Common Questions About Self-Defense

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.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.

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.

Written by Administrator

January 23rd, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Posted in Self Defense

About WPSN.net

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What is WPSN?

The Women’s Personal Safety Network, www.WPSN.net, is a website created to provide a venue for women seeking information on how to prevent crime and reduce victimization of themselves, their children, their friends, their co-workers, and everyone else who intersects their lives.  This site will evolve to include crime prevention tips on topics including those indicated by the pictures on this page, current events that impact women’s lives, phone numbers that could improve or even save your life.

Why do we need a site like WPSN?

Women continue to be victimized.  Whether walking down the street in their neighborhood, driving their cars, visiting the local shopping center, or going to the laundry room, women continue to place themselves in precarious situations simply because their do not have the knowledge that can aid them in making wise decisions.  Too often women simply do not know what to do when potentially dangerous situations arise or what number to call for help or information.  It is intended that this website will provide this information – all in one place.

Written by Administrator

January 23rd, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Posted in General

Introducing WPSN.net Blog!

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Welcome to www.WPSN.net Blog.  This blog will provide information dealing with the issue of women’s personal safety.  Please be patient as this blog is currently under construction.  For information on the subject of crime prevention tips for women, although not just for women only, visit http://www.wpsn.net/ and share the site with everyone you know.

Written by Administrator

January 23rd, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Posted in General