Personal Safety

As many of you know, the latest Old Money book ‘Old Money, New Woman’ will be available soon. In it, I covered a multitude of subjects: how to look at your life objectively in order to see where you are and more effectively determine where you’re going and how to get there; how to implement a better decision-making process through ‘protocols’; the three important components of ‘presentation’, i.e., how you present yourself to the world; personal finance fundamentals, obviously; and some wardrobe advice, among other things. 

What I didn’t cover in detail was the issue of a woman’s personal safety with regards to sexual assault. I didn’t feel qualified, and, as a man, I was reluctant to address an issue that impacts women on such a deep, personal level. I mentioned this in a conversation with Melissa, one of our frequent contributors in the comments section. As it happens, she’s taught self-defense for women, to women. I asked her to contribute to this post, and she generously accepted. Below are her thoughts. 

My hope is that this might start a conversation about how we can address the problem of sexual assault in our society. Women should have all the resources available to them, both in terms of prevention and treatment. Even more important, I think we need to educate men on boundaries and how to handle emotional issues more effectively. 

These are just my random thoughts. I look forward to hearing everyone’s perspectives, if not experiences, with this difficult issue. Thank you, Melissa. Your contribution is much appreciated. – BGT

Oh how I wish this article did not need to be written. I would love it if men and women could live together more harmoniously. I realize however, that in order to be as safe as possible, I must be the one to take responsibility for myself… and so must you. The lion does not concern itself with the safety of the gazelle. It does not feel guilty for what it does. It is up to the gazelle to be alert and aware as much as possible or risk becoming the lion’s meal.

All predators are creatures of opportunity. The lock on your front door does not prevent a battering ram from breaking down your door, it keeps the opportunistic thief out of your house. Personal safety is about keeping opportunistic sexual predators from putting you in a position of vulnerability by making sure you avoid unnecessary ‘conflict’. The best fight, the easiest fight, to win is the one that does not happen.

My perspective on the world… based on training I have received is not, ‘Oh, no… that teacher became a pedophile!’ It’s, ‘That pedophile became a teacher.’. As I said, predators go to their prey if they cannot get their prey to come to them.

While there are kidnappings and assaults that happen outside the home & office, in bars, frat houses, etc., assault against women (and children) happens more frequently from someone they have grown to trust. Background checks serve a purpose but all they really do is show you the predators stupid enough to get caught.

The average assault can last up to, and sometimes over, 6 hours. The youngest victim is recorded at only a few months old. The eldest victim has been in her late 80’s. Assault is not about youth, beauty or attractiveness. There is a misunderstanding out there that a woman can be too undesirable to assault. Assault is not about love, or attractiveness.

A lion does not attack a gazelle because it thinks the gazelle is cute. It attacks the gazelle because it is there, and the lion is hungry. The gazelle serves a purpose and the lion does not over think its actions. It’s the same with assault. The victim served a purpose. It doesn’t matter if the assault was part of a lengthy ‘grooming’ effort or if it was a sudden attack. The aftermath leaves the victim forever altered.

During the early days of the #MeToo movement, a woman and I engaged in a conversation about assault. Her view was that if I were a ‘good person’ I would ‘take-one-for-the-team’ meaning- if I ever found myself in a situation of being assaulted, I would not try to defend myself but let my attacker do whatever he wanted so that his next victim would be spared from any additional injuries. She thought that by fighting back a ripple effect would happen and the next woman would be treated even worse as a direct cause of defending oneself. This is not the case. Attackers often escalate no matter what the victim does. The more they get away with, the more they try next time. The decision whether or not to fight back is absolutely personal. No one can tell you what to do not even a self defense ‘expert’. The best we can do is to educate you about the realities of personal safety and assault so that if the time comes when you do need the information, you are as informed as possible and able to make a decision based on solid information and not Internet opinion. If you decide that you cannot fight back, do not feel guilty for anything that happened. If you do fight back and your attacker gets away and hurts the next woman he attacks, that is not your fault.

If you are concerned about your personal safety and that of your family, I do recommend looking into self defense classes in your area. Self defense classes are not necessarily about the religion behind martial arts. They are about situation awareness, how to fall, how to hit, etc. (Yes people need to learn how to fall to avoid injury.) and may even go over weapons training including proper handling of firearms.

There is no justification for assault. Nothing can make it ‘ok’ to victimize another person. Do what you need to do to be as safe as possible.

28 thoughts on “Personal Safety

  1. I recommend that anybody interested in personal safety reads How To Survive The Most Critical 5 Seconds of Your Life. It’s not a pleasant read.

  2. Well-written, indeed.

    I agree that situational awareness is essential. E.g.: Meeting a man of bad reputation in his hotel room for a job interview isn’t clever. Nor is drinking on a night out in an unfamiliar location, and leaving in the company of a stranger. It’s common sense, but sadly tragedies happen in such situations. Perhaps it’s also worth mentioning that non-verbal communication (behaviour and/or dress style) may provoke unwanted attention — not necessarily leading to abuse.

    From a man’s perspective, assuming he is the abuser, there is no excuse. Abuse is ethically wrong. That said, one needs to understand the difficulty faced by judges in certain “minor” cases, when the line between a tragic combination of events and abuse isn’t clear. I recall a case between two university students: it wasn’t proven that the young man had the intention to harm, nor was it proven that the girl had done everything possible to stop his actions.

    Regardless, both state and civil institutions need to do more to make sure that victims are heard and that abuse will not go unpunished. I reluctantly point to sexual abuse by members of the clergy, in which case many victims (in Europe) feel that no or little responsibility is taken. Much more can and needs to be done.

    On self-defense, you’ve shared two important ideas: the “good” fight is the one avoided, and the decision to react can only be made ad hoc. Self-defense improves confidence, and this may work for and against one. One needs to remember that, since techniques are taught in a controlled environment, where movements are predictable, it takes years of practice to be able to apply them effectively. Especially when facing a stronger opponent. [Note: I’m referring to traditional arts with strict rules, where striking vital body parts is not permitted.]

    That said, and swimming aside, the Japanese arts are perhaps the most complete “sports” and can be practiced for life, at one’s own pace.

    My apologies for being so verbose.

    1. Good comments as always, JL. I agree, it is important to use tools that can be used effectively. And, for men, there is no excuse for this behavior. Thank you, sir. – BGT

  3. Having been the survivor of an assault, I can say firsthand that everything the author says is spot on. Situational awareness is essential, and includes not becoming complacent even in places you feel comfortable. You can be attacked anywhere, in school, on the street, in a bathroom, in a house. The location doesn’t matter. What DOES matter is that you prepare yourself with a defense you feel comfortable performing. It can be learning self-defense moves. It can be carrying some type of object with you (I carry a heavy MagLite if I walk at night) that can be swung at someone’s head or used to hit someone’s arm. It can be asking someone to walk you to your car, or an agreement to text someone when you get to your destination. And know this…asking for help is not ‘weak’. Asking someone to walk you to your car is not being afraid. It is being strong and asking for help when you know you need it. Anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong.

    And if the unthinkable does happen to you, do no blame yourself. It was not your fault, no matter what anyone else says. You did not ‘invite’ the attack. You did not cause it to happen. If you experience feelings of guilt and fear, know that they are normal and seek counseling from a local assault center counselor who understand the ramifications and aftereffects. It is not weak to seek counseling. it is a strength to acknowledge you need help.

    Lastly, we all need to be strong enough to talk about sexual and non-sexual assault openly. Yes, you will feel uncomfortable. It is an uncomfortable subject. But to not talk about it gives it power. The power of fear. And I, for one, decided after my assault happened that I would not give in to that fear. Instead I talk about it so that others can listen, learn and know that they are not alone.

    1. I’m sorry for what happened to you. But your willingness to overcome, share, educate and encourage others speaks volumes about your determination, strength and good character. You are an extraordinary woman!
      I admire you so! Jan

  4. I am so sorry that this happened to you, Kelli. You sound strong. Good for you for not allowing it to negatively define who you are.

  5. Thank you, Jan and Melissa, although I don’t see myself as strong. I lived in fear after the attack since my attacker lived in the same town. It was only after I moved out-of-state with my husband, and met for two years with a very effective assault counselor, that I was able to deal with my fears. That is why I say counseling is so important. It taught me my fears will never go away, but I don’t have to be ruled by them. And Mr. Tully, I appreciate you raising awareness of this issue.

    1. You are very welcome, Kellie. You know you have the support and best wishes of everyone here. Thank you for sharing such a difficult experience. I hope it gives courage and inspiration to others. – BGT

  6. I think this was very well done, thanks Melissa. This is a topic I have given some thought to as a father (my daughter is only 6, but I recognize the need will arise for this conversation at some point in the future). One of the best, common sense resources I have found is here: It deals with preventing sexual assault through avoidance strategies. Some of the information will be offensive or feel unfair to women who feel they should not have to alter their behavior to stay safe. And I agree it is unfair. A woman should be able to go and do as she pleases without having to fear for her safety. Unfortunately, as Melissa says, predators exist.

    Because most men are civilized and courteous, the average woman (in my experience) doesn’t fully appreciate the physical strength advantage men have over them. I know when my wife and I play at “wrestling”, my biggest concern is not winning, but making sure I don’t hurt her. I’m not a particularly large man, and have experienced the disadvantage that comes with wrestling or scuffling with men that are 20 or 30 pounds heavier. Considering the average man probably outweighs the average woman by 50lbs and also has greater levels of strength by virtue of higher testosterone levels, he will be able to overpower the average woman 95/100 times. Self Defense training is good, but I think it should be thought of as a last ditch “tool”, and not give a false sense of security to women. It is horribly unfair that women must concern themselves with sexual assault avoidance, but it would seem to me that accepting the inherent injustice, and taking sensible precautions is preferable to leaving your safety to fate. At least, I am hoping that is how my daughter will see things as she grows.

  7. As the father of both a toddler age boy and kindergarten age daughter, I wanted to add that we (as parents) not only have to think about defensive strategies for our daughters. What about making sure our boys do not adopt latent macho male behavior that (if taken too far) can quickly result in coercion, degradation or plain bad manners towards women.

    I am not trying to make excuses for the attackers; quite to the contrary. I am planning on starting at square one with my boy by teaching him that any degrading remarks, jokes or any sort of disrespectful behavior towards women is just as unacceptable as to anyone else. It is not “cool”, it’s not what “real men do”. In fact, it’s disgusting and anyone who condones it needs to be ostracized.

    1. Very commendable! I couldn’t agree with you more. I wish more fathers of the little ones similar to the age of your toddler would make the same commitment and take the same responsibility and action. GOOD PLAN! Thank you.

  8. In today’s society it is wise to have a defensive strategy for young sons also, as both boys and girls are victims of assault.

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