Be prepared always, even just getting groceries.

Once upon a time my mom was attacked in a grocery store parking lot on her way to her car. Another time my friend was attacked on her Sunday morning run through a nearby park. Another time my friend was jumped between walking out of a restaurant and getting into their Uber. Countless other times women I know routinely discuss things they don’t do or take precaution doing because men have made or are actively making them uncomfortable, like getting out of their car, riding the bus, crossing the street, preventing them from getting to where they are going or just going about their lives.

These are the everyday stories that don’t make the news and then there are the cases that do make the news like my friend, like Mollie Tibits, like countless other stories where women fall victim to predators because they were simply existing in the wrong place at the wrong time. Inside each of us is a little voice that tells us “don’t cross the street here, don’t make eye contact, don’t make this situation worse by engaging” that voice is your gut protecting you with survival instincts. To make this voice louder and more obvious, put your phone away when you’re walking anywhere so you are better able to pay attention to your surroundings. You automatically make yourself a much less desirable pray when you look like you will have plenty of time to run away or time to prepare to fight back. Your gut is smart, listen to what it’s trying to tell you.

Take extra precaution and prepare in advance for what you would do in the event someone did try to attack you. The worst thing to happen to you becomes much less scary when you have thought about it before and have practiced how to win. How many times have you broken a promise you made to yourself when you found yourself feeling unsafe in some situation a man or person looked like they were going to go crazy and you were in the wrong place at the wrong time thinking “I am not prepared for this” and then decided you would fix that as soon as you had the time and space and then “forgot”, but really you just didn’t know where to start to follow through on that. It’s a vicious circle, I’ve been there myself. Before creating a handbag I loved I thought, “well, there’s no handbags I want on the market, maybe I’ll get to create one someday when I’m retired and have the time”. UNACCEPTABLE EXCUSES! You have the opportunity to never feel unsafe and unprepared again.

Do your past and future self a favor and Google: Self defense class + [your area] and find a class near you. Maybe try Krav Maga as that’s the most common nationwide, you can also if you’re interested consider Jiu Jitsu, boxing, or Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and train regularly, however not necessary if you just master the basics. Some women take one class and find they love it, whatever works best for you though. If there is nothing check out some tutorials online and try to solicit a friend or partner to practice with. You can start with searches like “how to break free from a wrist hold”, “how to escape a grab from behind” and see what other related comes up. I promise it won’t take more than 10 minutes (although more is certainly encouraged).

Alternatively if you would like to carry a self-defense tool like I did, you can carry a taser, pepper spray or gun, you can find a bunch of different varieties that will fit inside a Parker Handbag. You should still Google some tutorials so you know how to use them correctly but it’s offered me endless peace of mind that should I get attacked I am never unprepared either with my body or my handbag.

Choosing your safety device 101

When people find out what I do on the side, I frequently get the response of, “I think about this issue all of the time but I have no idea where to start, I just know guns make me uncomfortable and I don’t think I would actually carry one”. Since I grew up around guns, it seemed so obvious to me that a purse should be designed to hold guns specifically. Since I made the first version of the handbag and talking to literally hundreds of women I now realize how many more self-defense options a handbag would need to accommodate to make every woman feel truly prepared for her own needs. So where do you start?

1. Where are you going today? What is the potential level of risk? Have you ever looked up the crime statistics of the areas you work, live, or hang out in?

It may surprise you to see how much crime is going on around you that you are never aware of. I decided to take action myself when I researched how many sex offenders were within a one-mile radius of my work (there were three within a few blocks) before I decided I couldn’t just walk to the bus alone at night. Women often get attacked within a few miles of home, when women aren’t paying attention because the things they’re doing are so routine it’s easy to tune out and lose track of surroundings. Women often report “they didn’t even see the attacker” or “he came out nowhere” when the real issue is that she simply was not aware of him.

2. What are you going to be wearing? What kind of bag will you be carrying? How will you conceal some sort of self-defense tool?

You have so many outfits for different occasions, different shoes, you probably have a lot of different kinds of cooking utensils and gadgets in your kitchen too – the point is that you need lots of different tools for different jobs. You aren’t going to conceal any personal safety mechanism under your clothes if your outfit is tight or form-fitting or minimal if you’re going to the beach or workout for example. It’s important to make sure you are prepared for all the situations by having different options for all of your different needs.

For example if you’re “just running to the grocery store” or making a quick trip down the street to anywhere you could grab a cute little anti-kidnapping device in the form of kitty ears or a Sting Ring. There are a number of key chains you could have attached to your keys like pepper spray, tasers, knives, all of which you will need to keep handy to go about your life. It could be buried in your purse but having it is better than not having anything, and especially if you’re diligent about remaining aware of your surroundings you could take it out the moment you start feeling uncomfortable to prepare for a potential confrontation.

If you’re feeling a little more confident and courageous a stun gun / taser situation or pepper spray which can come in gun-shaped devices and fit perfectly in a Parker handbag and it’s easier to manage as it has it’s own spot and you can easily figure out where it is based on feeling around without looking with some practice.

I can’t lie to you, I’ve always assumed my purse would be meant for guns, but in branching out to other tools, I’ve been surprised to find how much I love other tools and how equally confident to exist in the world without fear of getting raped and murdered. You should check out a bunch of different products out there and see what you love to carry, what makes you feel most confident yourself. At the end of the day, the best personal safety device that is the best one is the one that makes you feel like the baddest bitch that will not be fucked with if anyone tries to attack you. No matter what you choose, be sure to practice using it, practice wearing or concealing it, practice taking it out quickly, practice taking it out like your life depended on it.

Other resources you can use as a references if it’s helpful for you, stay safe beauties!

Handguns for women, begginer tips

Non Lethal Self Defense Tools

Situational Awareness

Personal Protection Plan

Tips - Choosing your personal safety device

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