I'm a statistical anomally, because I've survived 2 major stranger assaults, one in my teens, and one as a young adult. I probably didn't carry myself well in my teens, body language was shy/avoidant, had taken a lot of hits growing up and didn't fight back. Last bus. . . followed off the bus, ambushed. . . some earlier interactions, and I asserted my boundaries, but he stalked. Second assault, the perp was in the neighbourhood, turned out to be the same guy who chased my roommate through the park-- he followed me from work, across the park (5 minute walk, 6:00pm winter, so it just got dark). Survived other threats to my safety, verbal with intent and the means. . . safety figures into my thinking, hopefully to never get caught off guard.
A new trick I spontaneously invented recently (there's a potential threat. . .what are my ways out, what to do if I get trapped. . .what's the safest route to safety, who else is around, what's lit up the best. . .), is use of my Water Bottle that I carry with me everywhere I'm walking, because I need to constantly re-hydrate. It's an approximately one litre, steel water-bottle and the cap has a solid thick loop which fits secure around my index finger, and I always make sure the cap is screwed on tightly (so there's no water-leakage). It gives extra reach to an extended arm (by almost foot) which can protect my perimetre. When filled full with water, can add to momentum and force. . .
I didn't have to use it, but stayed alert and it just makes me feel better when I have planning, a what I can do if I percieve threat, to feel reasonably prepared to respond if I have to.
I also know from my experiences that I can actually trust my intuition. In the cases of both attacks, my intuition picked up on the threat, long before close enough proximity to attack me. My mistake was doubting it. The second attack, I noticed hesitation with the guy as he was about to cross the street, then withdrew. . . he was waiting to see what I did (in retrospect I realize that), at the time, my spidey senses, inner voice told me "that guy is fkd up, watch yourself". I crossed the street to the path across the school yard, judged by the time of 6pm, still people on the path, judged it to be 'safe enough'. I noticed my inner voice (calm, not a schizy one
), but judging, "oh good, there's people around". Still not enough to assume direct threat.
Mistake was that it only took seconds and perp looks for that interval of opportunity. But I was already geared up, adrenaline, anticipating it. I heard breathing behind me (yeah, creepy like a movie, surreal), he tried to put his hand across my mouth from behind, but I jumped on that before he got a locked hold, ripped and twisted his arm, and I yelled loudly, "F-OFF!"-- full adrenaline response. Freaked him out, because he wasn't expecting that. I think these perps build a fantasy up of how it's going to be untill they get a good shot of reality. It stunned him, then he sort of slinked off away to the side-- super creepy. Bad decision to walk the rest of the way home, cause intuitive voice warned me he could follow me home, and I just thought well, I'm half way through the park, half way back. . . long story of crap, but I think it's good to know how one's intuition operates, even if that sounds flakey. Others have other senses, that can pick up on threat, how it's communicated to self, e.g. some people, can feel goosebumps, hair standing on end. There can be innate self-protection senses.
I've toughened up a fair bit, but on days I don't feel as strong, sometimes I need to wear my steel-toed safety boots. I worry about what I project, sometimes I can't find the 'warrior'-within, 'inner-protector' and it's hard for me to go out there (still got ptsd interference, long story. . . ).
I've been aware that it's not lawful to carry weapons, and I've really struggled with that, often opting to avoid going out (and that's constrictive to my living). . . I have this souvenir mini-wooden baseball bat, that I've wanted to take out with me for self-protection, but I also have wired "law-abiding" in me, but I liked the idea, because that can create a perimeter, disable hands coming at me.
But in truth, I'm not able to fight, until I've been struck or grabbed and at that point it can be too late. It would be unlikely I'd use the water-bottle defense until they struck first, so it's all about precious split-seconds of response. And believe me, I consider proxemics and safety routes and all other things first-- key is to avoid the problem, keep as much distance from a potential threat.
I also do have a personal alarm on me, and I can rehearse that using body and mind practice. The alarm I have fits on belt loop, detach the part that can be thrown into the bushes, whatever, and it gives a piercing sound. If I want to walk around the neighbour, I'll also borrow my neighbour's dog, because he's very good at being protective-- anyone who attempts to walk up behind me and this dog turns back, barks and gives them crap-- and it is good defense, because it can wake a sicko up out of their sick reality back into reality, to stop, re-think, the dog's stand, "don't even think about it". Small things like this feel empowering, it's a relief to not be as strained thinking about my safety constantly, that a walk can be relaxing, it's a big relief. I practice 'mindfulness', so I can be aware of both the pleasant and unpleasant of my surroundings, in-tuned hearing, slightest brustle of a leaf, twig, etc., awareness without panic, until a 'watch it, potential threat"-- and I don't panic, I do seek to take control of the situation, assess risks, routes, etc.
The first assault, yeah tipped off to threat long before it happened and I second guessed my intuition, told myself "i'm just being paranoid", well I wasn't. I picked up on things, small behaviours, interactions. Jerk was staring me down on the bus, and my bad habit was to avoid eye contact, and it felt intimidating. I got off the bus, I slipped on the ice and the perp ran out to "help me up", and then wouldn't let go of my arm and seemed to be trying to lead me to a dark place across the parking lot, so I asserted, "that's okay really, I have to walk this way, thanks" (f-off, w/o saying it). Intuitive voice, said, "what happens if he tries to meet me on the other side of the mall" and I discounted as 'paranoid', but it's exactly what the perp did. I should have walked closer to the road, vs. the path.
He ran up behind me and I turned around to face him and he stopped in his tracks. Again, it was surreal, because he started creeping towards, me and said "don't scream" and I'm like WTF, " what do you want, want my wallet, here [ready to thow it at him]". This was the first assault, and I think I blanked out for a second or two. He got me in a hold, and dragged me, and I was kicking, trying to get traction, pulled me behind a garbage dumpster. He was a foot and more taller than me, couldn't head butt him. I didn't feel that I had use of my arms and angled in a way that I couldn't kick. . .? I think the problem was the horrified of the assault directions, my brain couldn't snap into how to fight that lock, I struggled the whole time trying to get out of the grip. Puffy winter clothing was also difficult fight wise, but clothing barrier made it frustrating for him to try to continue, that and constant struggle.
My sense of rage persists and the helpless aspects, is the chit of the trauma I wish would be gone. The rage is good, because my self-protection is usually on, and accessible when needed, when under threat, it's a case of "not this time, f-you" My thinking is systematic re: safety routes, long before anyone is close enough in proximics to harm me-- so I do feel in control with that, calm, no panic, what are the options, quickest route to safety (other people, well lit places, traffic), etc.; what do I have on hand to protect myself if trapped.
There's different kinds of threats, not just the stalking sexual predators. There's the jonzing drug addicts, mugging risks. There's the stupid gang stuff, dares, re: 'jack that person". They're different dynamics. I'm fairly confident in handling that stuff. Gang people, it's group strength dynamics, one on one, they can be weak, and can use that psychology to one's advantage-- shame can work. Again, they can have stupid pre-concieved ideas of how they think an attack will play out, and when you do something unpredictable, it can disarm their focus. A kid tried this with me, I was crossing the parking lot, two dudes standing back watching, but they were together earlier, and kid ran up behind me, and I turned back to face them, and it freaked them out (just the change in direction, and retreat, etc. tips me off, irregular behaviours). Confused lone-crackhead, I watch the actions closely, irregular crossing the street, and I'll test things by changing my direction and see how they respond, and get to well-lit, public space, close to traffic, stop and watch. I carry some anger, some intensity, and 'bring it' (even if it is slightly delusional, I need that confidence-- and it possibly can be picked up on energetically, subtle level of experiencing).
I think being attentive to proxemics and safety routes.
TTC, I'm not that familiar with. Have visited briefly, TO. If there aren't good safety routes out of tunnel and into traffic, more people around, I don't think I'd want to travel that way (but, I'm ptsd-damaged-- despite my strengths, if I'm carrying other stressors, I don't feel as confident and I panic about that, don't want vulnerability to be detected and I don't like it if there aren't good escape routes, don't like to get into any trapped situations). A purse with long straps and heavy weight inside can also be a self-protective weapon (keep your wallet, valuables separate--I carry a travel change purse, flat, worn under clothing-- the purse is a decoy, discardable).
If can't afford a car, can't travel in a team, I'd consider moving closer to work. I feel safer on bicycle, well lit up, don't stop anywhere, keep going. Personally, I'd rather take my chances in traffic, vs. personal assault to my person (maybe that's insane in terms of probabilities, but somehow I've been a statistical anomaly, a freak magnet, whatever, I don't know why, maybe it's even less so now-- something I can't get my mind to resolve/ptsd-glitches, stuck). Know the area really well, what's open, escape routes, etc.
Guns I can't see as being sensible to use, even if it were legal, because, underground tunnel ricochet and *You only know for sure you are under attack, when the attacker has closed in on you*-- in which case, it's not safe to pull some weapons out, because they can be apprehended and used against you. Personally, I wouldn't want to carry a lethal weapon. You have only split-seconds to react. I don't want to kill people, I just want to be able to protect myself, enough so that I can run, get away (and if I can get a satisfying momentary strike in, all the better. . . to run).
I think my Water Bottle is useful, because of the small grip-ability, if it got out of my hands, it would still be hard to wield effectively by another person/attacker, being round, cylindrical, hard to grip firmly and utilize against me. Better than a glass bottle, because re: transference of blood less likely, not a sharp object. Knife, they can get cut, and you can get cut by the same blade-- high risks re: knife-fighting-- high HIV risk, if your attacker is carrying it. . . and if the attacker(s) are also IV-Drug-Users (or even crack-pipe, cuts in mouth, etc.), high risk they can be carrying HIV. Blood on blood contact, highest HIV transmission risks.
If dealing with a group (vs. lone-attacker), decoy purse with solid concentrated weight in it, straps, maybe can swing it, protection. . . early detection of risk is better, and safety plans ahead of time, and prepared for scenarios. Some people need to walk with walking sticks, cane for arthritis, earlier sports injuries, etc. in case stiffness develops, even on days when walking very strongly and unencumbered by it, some people need one to keep on hand for those off-days. . . but should learn how to use it properly to prevent injuries. . . . In the winter time, sometimes need added spike for traversing ice. . .
(I'm not a cop btw, nor CF)
Steel toe boots, laces, pointed toe . . ditch the heels. Inaccessible clothing. Mini-skirt doesn't mean you are 'asking for it', it just means easier attack (mini-skirts safer if chaperoned, not travelling alone). Belted slacks, can be a deterrant to prevent escalation of assault (as was in for me in one of the assaults--was bad, could have been a lot worse), something not imagined by or planned for by perpetrator. Wear clothes you can run in, can move in. . . ? Some people need to walk with walking sticks, cane for arthritis, earlier sports injuries, etc. in case stiffness develops, even on days when walking very strongly and unencumbered by it, some people need one to keep on hand for those off-days. . . but should learn how to use it properly to prevent injuries. . . . In the winter time, sometimes need added spike for traversing ice. . . Some martial arts. . . I play-scrap with one of my roommates, just for fun, joking around, it's pretty good for the reflexes-- I've noticed we've both gotten better with blocks and play-strikes-- problem with some kicks is other person grabbing the foot, and being thrown off balance. . . (Cato, and Clouseau, lol-- interchangeable
Bike locks, if cycling, the heavy-duty, U-bar ones. . . length, grip, can be apprehended though, but is it outside of the attackers imagination, heuristic of weapons, maybe surprise element. . .?
But what a person carries on them, even if it's not a 'weapon' can be apprehended and used against oneself by an attacker, so that's good to consider. . .? Unpredictability vs. obvious can be an advantage. . .possibly. . . but better to have others with more experience weigh in on that.
Maybe the self-defense workshops aren't wholly bad, if they're discussing preventative measures, and thinking through scenarios, training re: safety routes, body language-- I think prevention is better than having to fight-- even if sort of being able to win a fight, from my female perspective, it hurts to have been singled out and in that situation. Whereas prevention, less traumatic impacts to live with, while feeling in much more in control-- empowering that way. I think that alone can help 90% re: handling risks. Having a TTC safety plan ahead of time is a good thing, knowing where alarms are, etc. how far to travel to more peopled areas, e.g. if leave the tunnel to the street. . . knowing about that for a given time in the day. . . where staff are at, security. . .etc. On the train, like buses, can sit close to the driver? Don't stay in an isolated cabin. . .? Find other women. . .?