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Column: Being aware, prepared paramount in personal safety
by Angela Spencer
October 31, 2012 02:47 PM | 3432 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Angela Spencer
Angela Spencer
They tell you to expect the unexpected, but I didn’t see any danger in taking a mid-day walk from the market to my apartment in Washington, D.C. three years ago today.

The four teenage girls walking down the sidewalk were just like me — enjoying the fall colors against the backdrop of a safe, quiet neighborhood — until they attacked me.

It wasn’t until after the attack that left me bruised, cut, purse-less and in need of stitches that I became concerned with self-defense. I am a fairly small person and I am often mistaken for being younger than I really am, but walking through life with rose-colored glasses can be a danger for anyone regardless of gender, size or age.

I recently took a self-defense class with the Johns Creek Police Department to better prepare myself in case another unfortunate event like my encounter with those teenagers. I firmly believe everyone should have basic knowledge of what to do if they should be a victim to an attack. I don’t know if I could have fought off four girls who were most likely fighting their way into a gang, but increasing my confidence, awareness and skills have made me feel a little safer.

Awareness is one simple yet important factor in staying safe. Do not dismiss red flags for the sake of being polite. While I am generally a very cordial person, if someone is following me or suspiciously interacting with me I have no problem with leaving or telling them to leave me alone. I will not risk my safety in order to be polite to a total stranger.

Should things get physical, I have a few tools in my self-defense toolbox that will at least help me get away from an attacker. In the self-defense class I practiced screaming at the top of my lungs while carrying out some aggressive moves on a dummy. It may feel strange to practice yelling and punching, but you are less likely to recall what to do if you only thought about those actions yet never physically acted them out.

Again, I am a fairly quiet person who tries to get along with everyone, but I am not afraid to defend myself against someone who is trying to hurt me.

I wish I had these skills three years ago. Don’t be like me and wait until after you have been a victim to learn how to defend yourself. Be proactive so you can recognize red flags, know how to get out of compromising situations and fight back if needed.

You can reach Angela Spencer at

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