“You’ll have to kill me”

I read this article yesterday about John Gardner, who murdered Chelsea King and Amber Dubois. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot I hear about this case that surprises me. He was a predator. A repeat sex offender who had attempted to take the lives of other young women as well. After years of hearing all the horrible things people do to each other, I think I finally understand that in order to be effective in making things better I can’t let all that bad have so much power over me. So I am choosing to find some good in the bad.

There were two key points that struck me in this article. The first was about the woman who got away. She told authorities she was on a hiking trail and a man walked past her. She said hello, as did he. He then tackled her to the ground. She began screaming and kicking and when he told her to “shut up” her response was “you’ll have to kill me”. She continued to struggle and was able to sit up and strike him in the nose with her elbow. He was injured and she was able to get away.

I’m not in any way intending to say the other victims did anything wrong, but for this particular woman who did fight back and did get away – it shows me that self defense can and does work.

The second point was with another young girl Gardner was likely intending to harm. The girl told police that Gardner’s vehicle drove past her and then parked about 30 feet in front of her. Gardner stayed in the vehicle and did not attempt to speak to her. Then a woman pulled up next to the girl and told her the person in the vehicle “seemed very suspicious” and offered to follow her home.  She watched over her for the remaining two blocks.

That’s a wonderful testament to the goodness in people and why it’s so important to make it your business! I’m very hopeful about all of the people we can empower to fight back and to be good bystanders.

Spring Reminder

It’s a beautiful day today and I spent the morning at an awesome dog park with my very small (but very tough) dog, Spike. There are various trails to follow throughout a massive stretch of land. Of course, everyone else was out enjoying the day as well so it was a little crowded. When we go during the week we often have empty trails to ourselves. It reminded me of all the questions I got this semester about being safe while  jogging alone. I imagine, most of which came from the tragic Chelsea King murder.

Now that the weather is getting nice and we’re all spending more time outside, maybe getting in shape for summer -I figured I would throw out some reminders:

TRUST YOUR INTUITION

If you arrive to the park , trail or other location and feel that something is “off”, then choose a back-up plan. Maybe your local high school track or the gym.

BE AWARE

Take a look at your surroundings. Are you the only one there? If not, who is there- families, other joggers, creepy weirdos?

Stay aware. It’s hard not to get in “the jogging zone” but be sure to stop and check your surroundings every so often.

BE A BAD VICTIM

Make sure someone knows where you are going and when to expect you back.

Choose public areas and jog during daylight hours.

Use the buddy system. Jog with friends or teammates when you can.

Leave your IPOD at home. You’re ahead of the game if you can hear what’s going on around you.

Now…go out and enjoy this great weather!

Self-Defense in High Schools, It’s Time for a Change

Chelsea King was by all accounts a beautiful, smart, and talented young lady still growing up in San Diego. Tragically, her life full of promise was cut short and the man arrested in connection with this horrible crime is a registered sex offender, released against the advice of a psychiatrist.

This has made think about predominately two questions. First, why is self-defense not a mandatory part of middle school and high school curriculums? There has been a lot of buzz about sex-offender law reform in the wake this tragedy. I fully support harsher punishment for sex-offenders and more stringent restrictions once released. However, I am convinced that this is not enough because the bottom line is that, no matter what the law says, we cannot control the actions of others but we can control what we do about it. That is why it is so important that each and every person on this planet knows how to protect themselves. I think we need to start focusing more on what we can control, which is our actions and our knowledge.

The second question that is currently nagging me is this: Why am I not doing anything to make self-defense mandatory? The answer is that I have no idea but I do know that I am going to change that. We, as a society, need to be proactive about our own safety and the safety of the people we care about. It is time to call on our legislators and tell them what we need to happen to be safe and what we need to prevent senseless tragedies such as what happened to Chelsea. Why was I forced to play kickball and soccer in high school gym class but never once learned how to set a boundary, how to trust my intuition, or how to defend myself if those things didn’t work? It is time to change that.

I am going to start in Oregon, my home state, and I invite everyone to join me.

“Be the change you want to see in this world.” Mahatma Gandhi