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‘Why do I need self defense? I live in a safe area.’


Do you think we need to be so aware even if we live in a ‘safe’ area with very low crime rates? Or are we never truly safe?”

This question came from one of my readers, Vered – Blogger for Hire of MomGrind.com in response my article on Seeing Danger Patterns. I would pose these three questions to readers and to Vered:

✦ If you had asked kids at Columbine High School on April 19, 1999, if they felt safe at school, don’t you think most would have said, “Sure it’s safe here.”?
✦ If you had asked students at Virginia Tech April 15, 2007, if they felt safe on their campus, don’t you think most would have said, “Yeah, it’s a safe campus.”?
✦ If you had asked soldiers and civilians at Fort Hood on November 4, 2009, if they felt safe on base, don’t you think most would have said, “We feel secure here.”?

BrokenCarWindowYep, this is a myth:

Where I live is safe, so I don’t need to lock my house or car or take as many precautions as someone who lives in a bad neighborhood.”


Places exist with low crime rates. It’s great to be able to live in them. However, while some places have a reduced quantity of crime, the “quality” can still be very high. If an area has a low crime rate, it doesn’t mean every crime there is a petty offense. Murder, rape, or a multiple-shooting incident may not happen with frequency, but they can and do happen.

Crime in Paradise
I lived in Aspen, Colorado, for a number of years in the 1980s. Even with a huge influx of skiers during the high tourist season, the crime rate was low, but the crimes committed and the criminals who came through there were quite brutal. They included:

  • A car bomb placed under the driver’s seat designed to maim the driver for a slow, lingering death
  • A multi-shot sniper attack on a vehicle as a man took revenge on his former partner
  • An escape from custody by serial rapist Ted Bundy (who was later recaptured in the area)

No place is unconditionally safe.

Even American presidents — the people with the safest protection in the world — are not immune to crime. Presidents have been shot and wounded or killed.

What do we do?
ChainandLockSo should we be looking over our shoulders fearfully, living in the land of Paranoia, and never trusting anyone again? Only if you want to make yourself more vulnerable by creating a mind-numbing state of stress that spikes to Panic Mode as a default reaction.

Nope, you must scratch off “Freaking out” and yelling “The sky is falling!” from your to-do list.

So what is a person to do?

Make personal safety a life skill like shopping, cooking, or parenting.

  • If you are an avid bargain hunter, you have an eye out for deals online or when scanning the newspaper.
  • If you are an avid cook, you gravitate toward cooking shows, cook books, or great recipes.
  • If you parent, you have a huge investment in kids’ safety and getting them to adulthood as best you can.

All of these tie into one thing — habits. Self defense is the same.

Think of safety and self defense skills like driving skills.

SelfDefenseDrivingWhen you slip into a car and start driving, you may be the best driver in the world, but does that make you safe? No. Why not? Other drivers.

Now, not every other driver is going to cause a wreck, just like not every person is going to be a criminal.

But as a driver, you take precautions. Many are so ingrained you may not even realize you are doing them. You check the mirrors without thinking, buckle your seat belt with your mind elsewhere, and shift lanes to avoid potholes as a habitual pattern.

Keeping safe with a self defense mindset is similar. You stay in code yellow as a default awareness level and:

  • Scan or “feel” the environment as a habit without thinking.
  • Pay attention to odd behaviors even while doing something else.
  • Avoid vulnerable situations as a habitual pattern.

To steal from Forrest Gump, “Safe is as safe does.”


Thank you for visiting and learning about self defense.
If you think others can benefit, please pass it on!

Lori Hoeck


Photo credits:
Arenamontanus (top), skidrd (car),  Diego_3336 (lock) and Kyle May (bottom)

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • vered | blogger for hire November 12, 2009, 1:04 pm

    Thank you Lori for answering my question! My gut feeling was that you would say “no place is 100% safe” and I have to agree.

  • Lori Hoeck November 12, 2009, 2:13 pm

    Hi Vered,
    You’re welcome! Every fortress has it’s weakness; every enemy his vulnerability. Perhaps that is why we have so many superhero movies out these days — we wish we could hide behind a super power.

  • Davina November 12, 2009, 10:52 pm

    Self-defense is a habit. I love this attitude Lori. You’ve illustrated it so well, and to not have to become a worry wart makes a huge difference.

  • Lori Hoeck November 13, 2009, 7:15 pm

    Hi Davina,
    Part of the reason I write this blog is to bust the myths. One myth is that a self defense mindset will turn someone too paranoid or into a worry wart. A practical and healthy mindset is simply habitually aware, alert, and able to act — and always from a relaxed readiness.

  • Sara November 14, 2009, 12:40 pm

    Lori — I liked this post. You combine the right amount of humor with great suggestions about self-defense.

    As I tend to be a hyper-vigilant person anyway, I do notice my environment and odd behaviors. I’ve made a few mistakes with this. Like the time, I reported this man for following me in the book store and it turned he was the security guy for the store:~)

    On the other hand, I have also made some good decisions based on what you suggest about keeping a “self defense mindset.”

    Great post and thanks:~)

  • Lori Hoeck November 14, 2009, 1:06 pm

    Hi Sara,
    I don’t think you made a mistake with the security guy in the store. Please don’t belittle your skill! He obviously did not fit in, in ways that made you more alert. I think it’s awesome that you picked up on him! Intuition and awareness is always a better bet than second guessing.

  • Cath Lawson November 15, 2009, 8:17 pm

    Hi Lori – This is so true. Too many people wander round with the Disneyland mentality when they’re in a relatively safe place. They’d probably be safer in a more dangerous place, as they’d be watching their backs.

  • Lori Hoeck November 15, 2009, 10:14 pm

    Hi Cath,
    Hopefully their wake-up call arrives before something happens.

  • Patricia November 16, 2009, 4:46 pm

    Self-defense is part of knowing and liking yourself – it is hooked into the self-esteem parts of our being… I made sure all of my girls had self-defense classes and one even became a brown belt.

    I was in a really “safe” zone….when my graduate school faculty reached down my blouse and grabbed my breast during a final exam. It was a very safe zone for the professor to do that….I broke his nose and jaw….he was still safe …I was extremely vulnerable and close to graduation….I have never been referred to a church position by this highest of high universities…I am still paying.

  • Lori Hoeck November 17, 2009, 9:04 am

    Hi Patricia,
    Glad you passed on the lessons to your girls!

    There’s a saying — Rape is a life sentence — meaning it can affect a person for life. I’m sure sexual abuse in any form is the same. I wish you could have found some resolution with that professor. It sounds like he is still with you in many ways.

  • Patricia November 17, 2009, 11:19 am

    I think I have worked this aspect of my life through for my younger years, but I am now sorting out life and working on discovering the “OLD WOMAN” …it is quite a process of looking again at what one experienced and decluttering – throwing things out….sorting and letting go….keeping just a few things close…I am loving this process and Sue Monk Kidd just wrote about the stages of woman in Traveling with Pomegranates adding Greek Mythology and her daughter’s journey into it…
    very interesting…
    Very creative experience….I highly recommend it 🙂

  • Lori Hoeck November 17, 2009, 3:27 pm

    Hi Patricia,
    Old Woman — Sage — Crone — Wise Woman — yes, indeed! I’ll have to check out that book. I turn 50 in a matter of weeks. Uncluttering is a good word for this time of life.