Awareness: Your Own Best Bodyguard

By: Jessica Gill, WOWT Channel 6

Fact: every 90 seconds, a woman is assaulted somewhere in the U.S.

It’s happening every hour of the day, oftentimes, when least expected.

So how do you prevent it from happening to you? Experts say it’s all about awareness – both physical and mental. But is it easier said than done? WOWT put Weekend Anchor/Reporter Jessica Gill to the test.

As she found out, it only takes a second for someone to become a target and even less time for the perpetrator to decide whether that “someone” is an easy one.

Gill was never in any harm. A trained actor helped WOWT with the story. That trained actor is Shea Degan. He was not only the “bad guy” for this story, he’s also the founder and CEO of 88 Tactical, an elite training organization that’s aimed at providing a vast array of tactical curriculum, instruction and legal certification to civilians, law enforcement and military personnel.

Gill’s instructor was Devin Crinklaw – also, with 88 tactical. When Gill was first approached by Degan (the bad guy), Crinklaw told Gill she did everything wrong. First and foremost, she was overly nice.

Crinklaw explains, “Use your bad dog voice. Bad dog! Back off! I don’t know you!”

Gill ended up shaking Degan’s hand and answering his questions regarding whether she had a boyfriend – even when it was obvious she was uncomfortable.

Crinklaw says, “That just doesn’t seem right. Red flags should be going up. It’s OK to be casually kind to people, but you don’t owe anybody an explanation.”

Once Gill was told what not to do, she was trained on what to do, if defending herself was the best option in the heat of the moment.

It’s all about being what Crinklaw calls “situationally aware,” meaning, the strategy someone uses will likely change, depending on the situation.

While Gill tends to go running on a day-to-day basis, running trails aren’t the only place women get attacked.

It can happen at an ATM, too.

There, Crinklaw says, “Use the vehicle as your weapon, the gas, as your ammo.”

But Crinklaw cautions, don’t use it all at once. In other words, “don’t floor it.”

The wheels end up spinning, and the vehicle ends up staying in the same spot, longer.

Crinklaw says, “And we want to get out of there as fast as we can.”

Women can also get attacked in a parking lot. There, Crinklaw says not to use a key remote to unlock a vehicle’s doors, still several vehicles away.

Crinklaw explains, “We don’t want to buy any time for an individual 30 cars back to hop in, which has happened before.”

With that being said, Crinklaw suggests a parking lot over a parking garage. He adds the garage is a hot-bed for crime with oftentimes, very few witnesses.

Crinklaw adds, “Bad guys want to be successful in their crime. If they’re not successful because you ran away and made a lot of noise, the last thing they want to do is get caught.”

And as Gill found out, the last thing she or anybody wants is to be caught in a situation where you feel trapped and vulnerable. By being aware, confident and mentally prepared, Crinklaw says we are oftentimes, our own best bodyguard.

And when it comes to tools – things like pepper spray, for instance – Crinklaw says it’s mechanical. This means, the fact that the tube will actually work when you want it to, is not guaranteed. There are too many unknowns, Crinklaw says. Will it be used against you? Will you have it out and ready? Will it be pointed in the right direction?

Crinklaw says the only way you can really guarantee success in a scary situation, is by relying on your own skill sets and preparedness.

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