Personal Defense Devices

Wearables that Want to Keep Women Safe

This article by Rebecca Hiscott is reprinted in its entirely because the ramifications are so important to protecting women from assault:

In December of 2012, a 23-year-old New Delhi woman and her 20-year-old male companion were returning home from an evening movie when they were lured onto a bus by a group of young men. The six men proceeded to beat the man into submission and take turns raping the woman, who eventually died from internal injuries sustained during the brutal attack.

Half a world away, in Amsterdam, Herman Veenstra was sickened by the news. Reading a Dutch newspaper article about the event, he was struck by a passing mention that in Amsterdam an average of two women each day report a sexual assault, and that police estimate the actual incidence of sexual assault is much higher.

"I was shocked by the statistic, but I was even more shocked when I realized this is not publicly known," Veenstra said. "The media doesn't write about these incidents on a daily basis. Apparently it's not worth an article anymore."

That same week, Veenstra's daughter gave a presentation at her school arguing that women in Amsterdam should be allowed to carry self-defense sprays like Mace, which is currently not permitted.

The two events prompted Veenstra, the CEO and cofounder of Dutch tech startup Everfind, to consider how technology might be able to give women a swift and legal way to call for help during a violent assault. He and a team of eight engineers, app developers, and marketing experts began to develop Safelet, a $129 connected bracelet that lets the wearer send out an alert to friends, family, and police during an attack. It's currently collecting funding on Indiegogo.

The device uses a Bluetooth low energy connection to sync to an app on the wearer's smartphone. The app lets the wearer decide who she wants to notify in case of an emergency: friends, family members, the police, or the "Safelet community," a group of Safelet users who agree to field emergency calls from other wearers. To activate the Safelet, the wearer must press two buttons, one on either side of the bracelet—a feature designed to cut down on false alarms, Veenstra said.

When the device is activated, the user's "guardian network" is notified of an emergency. Meanwhile, the app activates the user's smartphone microphone to record the incident. The app can also transmit the wearer's location and a recording of the incident to the police; in that case, one of the wearer's "guardians" would also call the police and indicate the location of the attack.

The geolocation feature is of particular importance in Europe, Veenstra said. Currently, emergency services in Europe are not permitted to use geolocation to zero in on a caller's location, meaning it's up to the caller to provide that information.

"If you call the police, the first question they will ask is, 'Where are you?'" Veenstra said. In the United States, in contrast, 911 operators can immediately pinpoint your location when you place an emergency call.

Safelet is hardly the only protection-oriented item out there. The wearable technology market could be worth as much as $5 billion this year, according to some estimates, and so far that market has concentrated mainly on smartwatches and fitness trackers. But now, a new crop of wearables is surfacing, and they’re taking aim at the largely underserved personal safety market.

There's First Sign, which offers a $95 hair band or hair clip that use a built-in gyroscope and accelerometer to detect head impacts indicative of physical assault, then activates a microphone that records the incident while the wearer's smartphone puts out a call to the police. There's Cuff and Artemis, two competing lines of connected jewelry pieces that sync with a user's smartphone via Bluetooth to alert police and family members when the wearer encounters danger. There's Bembu, a FitBit-like bracelet currently fundraising on Indiegogo that promises similar safety functions, although its clumsily-executed campaign page doesn't inspire much confidence.

And there are a slew of others, with more likely to come. Not only are safety-oriented gadgets a lucrative new space—the Yellow Jacket, a stun-gun iPhone case, recently leveraged a successful Indiegogo campaign into a booming business—they're also serving a real and pressing need.

"A woman would most likely carry [pepper spray] in her handbag, but at the moment of an incident, it would be difficult for her to reach into her bag." Veenstra said. Safelet, like similar safety gadgets, was designed to be easier to access than a smartphone or a can of pepper spray, which would likely be out of reach during an assault.

Of course, these products can all be worn and used by men, but most of them are designed and marketed to women. But the reason for this is obvious: In most countries, women are overwhelmingly the victims of violent crimes, and street harassment is largely directed toward females as well. 

Safelet is an ambitious and much-needed product, but, like any device that relies on crowdfunding to spread the word (including other safety-oriented wearables) its main hurdle will be adoption. Will women feel inclined to purchase and sport this $95 hair clip or that $129 bracelet? By that measure, Cuff, with its range of jewelry options at a number of price points, might have the best chance of scaling up, even though its functionality is relatively limited.

But there's another, perhaps more pressing problem with these devices: They're being produced by startups. Discoverability is one thing, but the mechanics behind any startup are dicey, prone to unexpected costs and challenges that a small, perhaps amateur team can't always handle. When it comes to a personal safety device, any misstep, whether a malfunctioning microphone or an app that's easy to hack, can cost a company its reputation. And crowdfunding campaigns are plagued by the extra hurdles related to delivering rewards and keeping backers happy.

In the case of Safelet, Veenstra insisted that most of the heavy lifting has already been done. The startup has already created a bracelet prototype and has begun designing and testing out the backend functionality of the smartphone app; Veenstra sees the Indiegogo campaign as more of a way to spread the word about the device. "We are more using it to test some marketing tactics in the online space than anything else, because we are already funded," he said.

Everfind has even run the product by Amsterdam's police, who Veenstra said were "thrilled" at the prospect of a product that would allow citizens to participate in keeping the women safe—so long as their actions "fit within the overall framework of how they want citizens to behave.”

Sick At Heart - Attacks Against Women All Around the World

Pink sariThe relentless barrage of articles about women being attacked - most recently in India, in Egypt, in Pakistan - makes me sick at heart. What is it about certain cultures, certain men and certain circumstances that make attacks on women not only routine but defendable? Something has GOT to change.

There are movements that are starting to get momentum that offer "safety in numbers" like the Pink Sari Revolution but you can't have a crowd following you everywhere. And it is difficult to protect yourself, even in a group, when there is an attacking group of men - often armed police - coming at you with mal intent.

I would like to make this a forum for comments. The question is: How can women in the global community best protect themselves (aside from always packing a gun which is not always possible) from any form of attack, whether on the street or in their homes?

What is Rape Culture?

This article titled What is Rape Culture? offers a great overview of the many societal ways that rapists and rape-think occur.

“Rape culture” is a culture in which sexual violence is considered the norm — in which people aren’t taught not to rape, but are taught not to be raped. The term was first used by feminists in the 1970s but has become popular in recent years as more survivors share their stories.

Check out these sections. It is sobering to think that if anything, things are getting worse with the use of social media to spread vile and shaming messages - but of course also on the other hand, prove rape behavior) Haven't we heard of some of these for years and years?

Anyone Can Be A Rapist

The Idea of "Gray Rape"

"No" Means "Yes"

Victim Blaming

Slut Shaming

Street Harassment

The Myth of Preventing Rape

Anti-Rape Wear

Rape Jokes

The "Friend" Zone

Pick up Artists

Fear of Reporting

False Rape Accusations

The Power of Celebrity

The "Promising Future" Media Narrative

Male Rape

The Lack of Attention in Minority Communities

New Electronic Underwear that Protects Women from Sexual Assault

This just in from CBS news. Let's hope that it works.


Engineering students in India have created electronic underwear they claim can protect the wearer from sexual assault.

Two of the inventors Manisha Mohan (left) and Rimpi Tripathy.

The lingerie would deliver electric shock waves of 3,800,000 volts to an attacker and features GPS. The garment can also send emergency text messages to the police. The unusual prototype was created by three Indian students at SRM University in Chennai, who wanted to combat ongoing violence against women.

Play Video

India's women revolt against a culture of rape

The protective underwear, named Society Harnessing Equipment (SHE), purportedly delivers up to 82 electric shocks to a would-be offender when pressure sensors on the item detect unwanted force, according to The Times of India.

"A person trying to molest a girl will get the shock of his life the moment pressure sensors get activated, and the GPS and GSM modules would send an SMS (to the Indian emergency number) as well as to parents of the girl," said one inventor, Manisha Mohan.

Mohan and her two colleagues, Rimpi Tripathi and Neeladri Basu Pal, hope to begin commercial production of the device later this month. The issue of sexual assault in India has remained on the public radar since the December gang rape of a 23-year-old student on a public bus in Delhi. The victim died thirteen days after the attack. The attack sparked mass anger and demonstrations across India.

There have also been two sexual assault-related cases reported by female tourists. In the last three months, the number of foreigners traveling to India has dropped by 25 percent, according to a recent study by the New Delhi-based Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

The number of female tourists has dropped by 35 percent, the study claimed.

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Using Technology to Protect Women From Rape

IMG_2405We have been reporting on the reported rape epidemic in India in our most recent posts. Finally here is a good piece of news on the subject. Here is an excerpt of a much longer article:

Can a Wrist Watch Really Cure India’s Rape Problem?

by Feb 24, 2013 5:45 AM EST

The Indian government is developing a wrist watch equipped with GPS and a distress button. Can it help fight the plague of sexual violence?

In late January, the Indian government announced a new project to fight the rampant sexual assault cases in the country: a wrist watch. No longer just a fashion statement or functional timepiece, the accessory boasts a built-in distress button that texts friends, family and the nearest police station with the wearer’s GPS coordinates, and a video camera that captures footage when the button is hit.

India’s information technology minister, Kapil Sibal, announced the new development project a month after the brutal rape and murder of a young medical student in Delhi launched nationwide protests calling for change in the dysfunctional methods of addressing sexual violence. The briefing notes describe the project’s goal as “to develop indigenous product leveraging existing mobile spread and availability to cater to the security needs of people.” (Neither Sibal nor the government agency tasked with developing the watch responded to requests for a comment.) The watch is one of many tech-based solutions being crafted to combat rape and sexual assault by governments and tech developers across the globe. But not all activists are convinced this approach will work, and some are questioning how effective technology can be in stopping horrendous sexual assault cases like the one that shook Delhi.

Social media and smart phone software is growing into its potential to bring attention to, and even prevent, sexual assault and rape. Facebook and Twitter have been used to track sexual attacks in war zones like Syria, and to encourage prosecution in cases like Steubenville, Ohio. Hi-tech straws can detect the presence of date rape drugs in drinks. But it is the mobile platform that shows the most potential for combating an endemic of sexual violence across the globe.

Gail Abarbanel, founder and president of The Rape Foundation, one of the country’s oldest rape prevention and treatment centers, described the Indian project as “more like a ‘rape in progress’ alert than it is about prevention,” and says she hopes the government will turn its attention on men. “In so many of these situations, rapes could be prevented but not by the women who’s being sexually assaulted,” she said.  “Everything that’s ever been promoted to prevent rape focuses on the victim.”

Yet Abarbanel doesn’t reject the possibility of utilizing technology to combat assault. The Rape Foundation recently partnered with tech firm Possible to develop Safebook, an app they hope to release by the end of the year. Safebook aims to shift the burden to the friend, the bystander, the person that witnesses assault by creating groups and allowing them to check in on members. Its target demographic is college women, 1 in 5 of whom report being sexually assaulted during their four years on campus. Realizing this susceptible group is spending most of its time in the digital world, the partners hope to use social media campaigns to target them where they’re most comfortable—similar to campaigns that have already been successful for gay rights awareness and bullying.

As activists work on changing mindsets, the Indian government is going technical. The watch is expected to be ready mid-year and is expected to cost between $20 and $50, which is quite steep for a market like India. And in India, not all have been swept off their feet by the announcement. Many believe the country needs to rebuild its foundation of prevention methods. The biggest problem may be the apathy authorities, and even civilians, hold toward sex crimes. One of the most disturbing details to emerge in the aftermath of the brutal Delhi rape came from the woman’s companion, who said the battered pair spent 20 minutes on the side of a busy road before anyone stopped. In Delhi, a new study published by the International Center for Research on Women revealed the startling prevalence of attacks. Almost 80 percent of participants admitted to seeing a sexual assault take place, and only 16 percent said they had intervened. Crimes are rarely reported, especially in the case of young victims. In early February, the director of Human Rights Watch in South Asia announced that children who come forward after sexual abuse “are often dismissed or ignored by the police, medical staff and other authorities.” And just this week it was revealed that Indian police failed to investigate the rapes and murders of three young sisters.

Read the full article here.

Personal Safety Plan – Be Prepared to Defend Yourself

Violence against women April is sexual assault awareness month, and we cannot turn our backs on the shocking numbers that the Bureau of Justice Statistics has reported for 2008.  In the United States alone, an estimated 222,000 rapes or sexual assaults of individuals 12 or older had occurred, and these are the cases that were reported.  Even more startling is that studies indicate 18% percent of women in this country will be raped over the course of their lifetimes.

This information is a frightening wake-up call, and every woman and girl must meet reality head on and devise a personal safety plan that she can incorporate into her daily routine.  Several components are required to make a personal safety plan effective, which includes both physical and emotional decisions based on the comfort zone of the individual. Attitude, common sense, survival instinct and the motivation to fight back are all critical factors that need to be addressed on a very personal level.  There also has to be a firm conviction that developing an individual safety plan is as critical as having a disaster emergency kit in place. This belief is not only essential, it is crucial.

Even now in the 21st century there is still doubt that a woman could actually defend herself and are rarely thought of as Xena the Warrior Princess welding a powerful weapon to combat the evil Xena_narrowweb__300x520,0 forces of the world.  That’s a man’s job right?  Women are the weaker sex, soft and feminine and not strong enough to defend herself if confronted with a potentially dangerous situation – NOT!  Women have the power within them to be strong and in control, empowered to take on whatever challenges they are faced with head on without losing their femininity.  The perception that women need to rely on a man to save the day whenever she is in trouble is ludicrous.  Unfortunately, Superman is not going to sweep down and fight the bad guys and whisk the girl away to safety.  In reality, women and girls need to become more proactive in making personal safety a part of their everyday lives. 

The first step in developing a personal protection plan is to imagine different scenarios that may place you in threatening circumstances.  Play out in your mind what would you do in the event if someone attacked you while walking to your car with your hands full of packages while looking for your keys.  If you enjoy jogging or running solo and a predator jumps at you from behind, will you be ready to react?


The Women’s Self Defense Federation offers a very informative article on how to avoid predators which can be found at http://aaa-selfdefense.com/avoiding-predators, and all women and girls should make the time to read it.  Here are some common sense guidelines regarding how a woman’s mindset can help prevent her from becoming a victim:

·    Always walk with confidence and with a purpose: Stand straight with your shoulders and Woman walking with confidence your head held high.  Don’t exude a “shrinking violet” posture with shlumpy shoulders and a lack of confidence.  Predators seek out potential victims who look timid and vulnerable.

·    Always be aware of your surroundings.  Your instinctual radar should be up at all times.  Avoid multi-tasking and distractions while walking from point A to point B, i.e. talking on the cell phone while fumbling for your keys in your purse. 

·    If someone gets into your personal space or is following you, look that person straight in the eye and ask “what do you want?”  Predators don’t like it when someone looks directly at them because they can now be identified.

·    If you must go to a grocery store or shopping mall at dark, park as close to the entrance as Woman in parking lot you can and always in a lighted area.  Do not park next to a van or a vehicle with someone in it with the engine running.  When leaving your car, make sure the doors are locked.  When coming out of the store, make sure you have your keys out and ready.  While loading the car with packages, put your purse in first and always look around you while placing the rest of the bags in your vehicle.  Once you are in your car, lock the doors immediately and turn on the engine.  Don’t sit there for any length of time because even if your doors are locked, it doesn’t stop a predator with a gun at your window.  Get in the car, lock the door and take off immediately.

·    Avoid walking solo in dark, isolated areas and choose a path that is well lit and trafficked.  If you must walk a dark and isolated route, carry a flashlight, a personal alarm, a charged cell phone and a personal protection device such as a pepper spray, Mace, stun gun or TASER at ALL TIMES.  Non-lethal personal protection products are affordable, compact and very effective in protecting an individual from being attacked by a predator.  These devices are very easy to use and require very little or no training and are legal within most of the 50 states.

·    If you are confronted with a potential assault, scream as loud as you can or set off your personal alarm to attract attention. Yell “I HAVE PEPPER SPRAY!!”  and start running in the opposite direction as fast as you can.   If you have a pepper spray on hand, don’t be afraid to use it.  Pepper spray is made from hot cayenne peppers. The active ingredient is called oleoresin capsicum (OC) which is derived from chilis and most effective when sprayed in the eyes of a predator.  The immediate result is severe burning of the eyes, tearing and pain, which can last up to 35-40 minutes.  Some sprays also include an indelible dye to mark the attacker. Pepper spray

·   Another effective personal defense tool is Mace, which is an irritant similar to tear gas.  Unlike pepper spray, however, Mace will not have any effect on predators that are on drugs or alcohol.  Mace® is also the brand name for personal defense and security products.

·   TASERs are more expensive than a pepper spray or Mace product, but this personal defense device is one of the most powerful non-lethal tools a civilian can own that is legal in all states except Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.  Check local state laws on any restrictions regarding the use or possession of a Taser.  Tasers can incapacitate an attacker up to 15 feet away and can also act as a stun gun upon body contact.  The Taser is very easy to operate with a simple point and shoot mechanism with a laser light that will guarantee an accurate aim at the predator.

·   It is important that you learn more about these personal defense products and choose the one that you are comfortable with so that you are not afraid to use it when necessary. 

Women self defense ·   Learn some basic self defense techniques that are easy to remember but effective enough to escape a predator’s attack.  Self defense classes are relatively inexpensive and there are organizations who offer free self defense workshops for women and girls.  There is a great website that all young women should visit, which makes available a 20 minute long video that teaches girls how to fight back against sexual assault and abduction. Since 2006 Just Yell Fire has empowered 1 million girls in 44 countries with getaway skills and the right to live without fear of being a victim of sexual assault.

Date rape drugs are becoming a very popular method of disorienting an individual so that she will not have the ability to defend herself against a sexual assault.  The three most popular date rape drugs are Rohypnol, GHB, and Ketamine.  Rohypnol


These drugs are powerful, dissolve quickly in liquids and take effect within 15 to 30 minutes of ingestion.  If you are going out to a club, a party or even to dinner with someone you don’t know very well, you need to take these precautions to avoid becoming a victim of these date rape drugs:

· Don’t take drinks from people you don’t know 

· Open your own beverage container

· Never leave your drink unattended.

· If a drink tastes funny, pour it out.

· Don’t drink from punch bowls.

· If you feel drunk and you had no alcohol, get help immediately

· Never leave a social situation with a stranger or even an acquaintance that you don’t know very well.


The rule of thumb is when you are out with friends or on a date, keep your wits about you, have a charged cell phone handy, and don’t drink too much alcohol.  It is also a good idea to ALWAYS tell a friend or family member where you are going and check in from time to time.

Assault doesn’t always have to happen outside your home, and the major cause of injury to women each year is from domestic violence.  According to the American Institute of Domestic Violence, http://www.aidv-usa.com 5.3 million women are abused each year in the United States.  If you are a victim of domestic violence, do you have a safety plan in place to prepare an escape from an intimate partner’s violent episode? Do you have resources such as trusted neighbors, friends or family members who can offer you and your children a safe haven from your abuser? Visit http://www.aardvarc.org/dv/plan.shtml for more information on a step-by-step Domestic Violence Safety Plan along with a link to download a “Family Disaster Plan” worksheet.

Home invasion in the United States is also a very harsh reality and according to a United States Department of Justice report:Home invasion

  • 38 percent of assaults and 60 percent of rapes occur during home invasions
  • One in five homes undergoes a home invasion or break-in
  • There are more than 8,000 home invasions every day in North America
  • 50 percent of home invasions involve the use of a weapon; the most common weapons used are knives or other cutting instruments
  • In 48 percent of home invasions, victims sustain physical injuries
  • Victims age 60 or older make up 17 percent of home invasion victims
  • In 68 percent of home invasions, victims and the accused are strangers; in 11 percent of these cases, victims and the accused are friends, business associates, or family

Here are some recommended tips to help you prepare and defend against the threat of home invasion:

  • If your home uses hollow wooden doors rather than doors with solid cores, invest in some heavy duty locks.
  • Install security devices in windows such as alarm systems or bars.  These devices can be relatively inexpensive, and you do not have to spend a zillion dollars to secure your home.
  • Lock all entry ways such as doors and windows at all times.
  • If your front door does not have a peephole, have one installed.  Your investment will be about $30 which is worth having the ability to see who is at your door before opening it.
  • If you have some extra money to spend, install an alarm system such as ADT.  Do your homework and shop for the best deals to keep costs low.
  • It is highly recommended that you install surveillance cameras inside and outside of your home.  However, this equipment can be extremely pricey, and there are less expensive options such as dummy cameras that will give the illusion your property is being monitored.
  • If you live in a house, ALWAYS keep the front, sides and back of the property well lit when it is dark. 
  • When entering your home garage, be especially aware that no one has followed you in. Once you have determined you are alone, immediately close the garage door behind you. If someone has followed you into your garage, lock your car doors and back out immediately and drive away as fast as you can to safety. 


  • If you live in an apartment complex or dorm, always make sure no one follows you into the building.  Proceed to your apartment quickly and lock the door behind you. 


  • If your apartment, condo or dorm complex offers underground parking, try to park as close to the exit as possible in a well lit area.  Before getting out of your car, do a quick scan of your surroundings to make sure there is no suspicious activity at play.

  • Keep a personal protection device such as a pepper spray, Mace, stun gun or TASER close to reach inside and outside of your home.


  • If you notice any suspicious individuals in your neighborhood, alert neighbors or Neighborhood Watch groups.  If your community has an outside security company assigned to patrol your area, call them immediately to report any unusual activity.  

  • Have a discussion with your family regarding home invasions, preventative measures and escape plans in the event they become necessary. 

A well defined personal safety plan is an option that can no longer be ignored. The veracity of living in a world full of economic duress, raging unemployment, relentless foreclosures, and social apathy from too much online networking and very little human interaction clearly defines that society is becoming an increasingly hostile environment to live in.  Television shows it, the newspapers report it and statistics prove it.  We must stop sticking our heads in the sand like frightened ostriches and deal head on that it ain’t pretty out there.  We need to accept it but understand that we DO have the power to prevent the chance of ever falling victim to a ruthless crime. Women and girls must have the strength and the determination to fight back against violence without fear, embarrassment or guilt.  You don’t have to be Supergirl to defend yourself and win – awareness, preparedness, and a personal protection device will help you stay in control when circumstance puts you in a precarious situation. Strong_woman


The Justice System Fails Us Once Again

John Gardner

After Gardner’s release from only five years in prison where he was charged with molesting and assaulting a minor in 2000, two years later John Gardner was discovered to be illegally living half a mile from a daycare center. Instead of being thrown back in jail for violation of parole, he remained free.  Gardner violated his parole at least five other times, his last encroachment happened less than 3 weeks before his parole supervision ended and his GPS bracelet removed from his ankle. If the law officials did their job and thrown this sex offender back in jail where he belonged, Chelsea King and Amber Dubois would still be alive and getting on with their lives.


The incompetent decision to keep this predator on the streets to terrorize our children is a clear indication that our justice system is not equipped to protect the public from sex offenders.  A psychiatrist who wrote up the probation report on Gardner’s decade old molestation case implored the court that the defendant had "significant predatory traits" toward underage girls and should be kept in prison for as long as possible.  But the D.A. decided to plea-bargain and reduced Gardner’s sentence as long as his victim did not have to testify. Consequently, the D.A.’s outrageous decision to put a dangerous sex offender back on the streets after only 5 years of prison time has resulted in the death two young women as well as an unknown number of victims of attempted sexual assault.



The statistics of sex crimes in the United States are shocking and undeniably disturbing.  For instance, there are currently over 400,000 registered sex offenders in the United States, and the number of predators that fall through the cracks is unknown. According to the National Alert Registry, over 2,000 children are reported missing every day, and there is a one out of three chance that a child will become a victim of a sexual predator.  Eight out of ten rapists are released prior to trial, and 61% of violent sex offenders have a prior record.  These numbers are compelling, and it is clear that the justice system is not doing a good enough job from protecting its citizens from sexual predators.  As a law-abiding tax payer and the mother of two kids, these statistics are not only frightening, but they are appalling. But before we can see any drastic reduction in sex crimes across the United States, our laws must significantly change to enforce that convicted predators are sentenced to life imprisonment or even the death penalty.  Every time a sex offender is placed back into the folds of society, the system is endangering another child’s life.


The United States probation system acts as a revolving door for sexual predators because these criminals have the highest rate of committing the offense over and over again.  They are legally allowed to reside in neighborhoods forcing families to live in fear that one of their own will fall victim to the offender’s sick and twisted aggression.  The legal system is far too lenient when sentencing sex offenders and instead of severe punishment, their prison sentences are shortened after they have gone through a rehabilitation program that rarely cures their sexually deviant behavior.  They are let back out on the streets to act out their violent behavior again and again.



Sex offenders should be punished harshly with a “first strike you’re out” policy that will never allow these criminals out in public again.  The first time they are caught and proven guilty of a sex crime, they should be thrown behind bars for life.  Some experts suggest chemical castration where the criminal is injected once a month with Depo-Provera, a drug which reduces testosterone levels and sexually fantasies.  Chemical Castration therapy is said to cause the rate of relapse to fall to 5%.  But the American Civil Liberties Union opposes the coerced administration of any drug, including anti-androgen drugs for sex offenders, arguing that forced chemical castration is a "cruel and unusual punishment".  What is cruel and unusual punishment is allowing these monsters to walk free and put women and children at risk.



At the end of the day the law needs to change on how sex offenders are punished for their crimes, but as any political and controversial subject is handled, mounds of red tape, bureaucratic indecision, interference from groups such as the ACL and lack of support from the public will surely prevent law reform to happen any time soon.   What this means is that we must do everything we can to protect ourselves and our children from these predators.  Unfortunately, it took the murders of Chelsea King and Amber Dubois to cause us to snap back into painful reality and realize the world is not safe, and we need to seriously teach our children how to protect themselves from becoming a victim.  There are many free self defense clinics across the country, which specifically teach teenage girls how to fight back and escape from a sexual predator.  Academic institutions ranging from elementary to high school should conduct mandatory self defense workshops for each and every grade level.  Young girls in particular should always walk or exercise with a buddy, keep the iPod home, have the cell phone on, carry a pepper spray and be distinctly aware of their surroundings.  All girls should be taught to NEVER talk to strangers or accept a ride from someone they don’t know really well.


This may sound a bit angry but women need to get their head out of the clouds and stop thinking that bad things just don’t happen to them.  Here are five simple rules to follow:


1.   Don’t walk around distracted and unfocused (i.e. rummaging through a handbag for keys).  Be aware of your surroundings and don’t be distracted by talking or texting on a cell phone or listening to an iPod.


2.   Walk tall with confidence, your head held high and your shoulders up to elude a “don’t mess with me” attitude.


3.   Avoid walking alone, especially in isolated and dark places.  If you must take a remote path, be sure to carry a personal alarm, a working cell phone, and a flashlight if it is in the evening.  In addition….


4.   Carry a personal protection device such as a pepper spray, mace, TASER or stun gun.  These are very effective self defense tools that are legal in most states and will give you a strong advantage when confronted with a threatening situation.


5.   When going out to a social event, do not leave your drink unattended, or allow someone you don’t know that well to get you one.  Do not drink from an open punch bowl while at a party or have someone make you a drink without you watching.  Date rape drugs are becoming very popular, especially among the college crowd, and they work very fast to disorient and confuse the victim.  Date rape drugs have no color, no smell and no taste and can knock a person out for as long as 3 or 4 hours.  To learn more about date rape drugs, visit www.womenshealth.gov. 



If you believe you are a victim of date rape, please do not shower, urinate, douche, brush your teeth, eat or drink or change your clothes.  Have a trusted friend or relative drive you to the hospital to request a urine test.  Date rape drugs leave the body very quickly, and it is absolutely imperative you are tested right away. The hospital will also use a rape kit to collect evidence.  Most importantly, make sure you call 911 at the hospital and tell the police everything you remember.  Please believe that being raped is NOT your fault and the more information you can disclose, the better chance the police will have to catch the predator and save another person from being a victim.

Remember that sexual predators come in all shapes and sizes, and there is a good chance that you may even know one.  The key is to be aware, to stay protected, and to not take any situation for granted by letting your guard down for a minute.  Sexual assault can happen with a blink of an eye, but if you are mentally prepared to face any given circumstance, chances are you will come out of it safe and a stronger person than before.

Two Missing Teens end in Tragedy

Chelsea King My heart goes out to Chelsea King's and Amber Dubois' family for the devastating loss of their beautiful daughters whose lives were snuffed out much too soon. Chelsea was an honor student at Poway High and a member of the San Diego Youth Symphony. She was a cross country runner, a talented musician and well liked among her peers. Chelsea was in the midst of choosing a college after her graduation in May of this year but suddenly, she was gone. One day after school Chelsea decided to take a run alone on the trails of Rancho Bernardo Community Park near Lake Hodge. A few days ago, the search ended tragically when Chelsea's body was found in a shallow grave by Lake Hodges.

Amber_dubois On February 13, 2009 Fourteen year old Amber Dubois was on her way to school to exchange Valentine Day gifts with her friends. Amber was also excited to pay for a baby lamb through her school's Future Farmers of America program. She was last seen at around 7:00am only a block from Escondido High School. A little over a year later just days after finding Chelsea King's body, remains of Amber's body were identified in an isolated area of Pala. Her grieving parents suffered a year of not knowing whether their precious child would come home dead or alive. Today, Amber can finally be put to rest, and her parents can finally have closure.

John Gardner Registered sex offender John Gardner has been officially charged with Chelsea's murder, and he is also possibly being linked to Amber's case. Gardner pleaded guilty for child molestation in 2000 and received a maximum of 11 years. He only received 6, even though court-appointed psychiatrist, Dr. Matthew Cowell who interviewed Gardner, urged that the sex offender receive the maximum sentence allowed by law. Court documents reveal that Dr. Cowell reported Gardner was a "continued danger to underage girls in the community" and an "extremely poor candidate" for treatment. It is shocking that the Judge shortened this monster's sentence despite the foreboding warning that he will commit more crimes against girls.

What is wrong with our justice system today where we let known sex offenders back on the streets to abduct, rape or murder another child? Does anyone in the District Attorney's office have daughters of their own? How would they feel if they had to experience the horrific pain and devastation of losing a child to a sexual predator who was let back out on the streets due to parole? What would they do if their daughter went missing and had to spend agonizing and gut-wrenching days waiting to hear if their little girl was found alive or dead?

The laws for convicted sex offenders must change. First time sex offenders should NEVER be released from prison but should be given the death penalty if proven guilty. It is a known fact that sex offenders cannot be rehabilitated, and they are a threat to society no matter how much therapy they receive. To allow these vicious animals back into society so that they can prey on another innocent child is the same as giving permission for the criminal to do so. Forcing sex offenders to register their address and information apparently doesn't do any good. Neighbors of Gardner's parents had no idea that a child molester was living right next door to them, because many times, the information on these sex offenders are often not available or inaccurate.

In light of the tragic loss of Chelsea and Amber, I hope deaths are not in vain and that their murders will invoke changes in the law on the sentencing of sex offenders. It's a terrible shame that we had to lose two beautiful children to serve as a wake up call that just because a sex offender is "registered," it does not make us any more safe from the predator's sick and twisted thoughts and actions. There is no cure that will take away a sex offender's urge to perform unspeakable acts against humanity. Why in God's name do we give these deranged fiends any rights at all to live among society and give them another opportunity to brutally hurt and possibly kill another human being?

It is also grossly unfair for the justice system to allow such scum to walk our streets to yet again to act out their evil and twisted behavior on our children. If the law doesn't change to reflect the horrendous aspects of child molestation, rape and murder, then we as citizens of the United States should have our constitutional right to bear arms to protect ourselves and our family from these predators.

My final thought on the shocking deaths of these two girls is that as parents, we need to do a better job in protecting our children against violent crimes. We can no longer stick our heads in the sand and believe that this could never happen to my daughter. But it did -- twice that we know of and who knows the countless other missing girls we still haven't found with their parents holding on to a glimmer of hope that their chld will come home alive. We need to educate our children of the dangers of walking alone and the risks of talking to strangers. Our children need to be taught effective self defense techniques so they have a fighting chance to get away. Children love to scream while playing, and they need to know to use their vocal cords the same way in times of danger. Our children need to be armed with a personal alarm that they can set off if a predator tries to abduct them. Rapists do not like attention drawn to them, and the loud shrill of an alarm or whistle may scare them off before any harm is done. Teenagers are responsible enough to carry a personal protection device such as a pepper spray or Mace as another tool to fight back if faced with a dangerous situation. Lastly, children must be taught to always be aware of their surroundings and to avoid listening to their music devices, texting or talking on a cell phone while they are out and about. Distractions are their worst enemy and sex offenders seek out potential victims who are not paying attention.

I wish you and yours a very safe 2010 and that you never have to experience the heartbreaking loss in which Chelsea's and Amber's parents are going through right now. I will not suggest that I have any idea of how the King and Dubois family are coping with their unimaginable situation, but we pray that they will somehow find the strength to carry on through their daughters' spirits and the memory of how their lives touched so many people.

Another Missing Teen in San Diego. How do we keep our kids safe?

Chelsea King


Chelsea King is a beautiful, 17 year old girl with her whole life ahead of her.  Chelsea is an honor student at Poway High and a member of the San Diego Youth Symphony. She is a cross country runner, a talented musician and well liked among her peers.  Chelsea was in the midst of choosing a college after her graduation in May of this year but suddenly, she was gone. One day after school Chelsea decided to take a run alone on the trails of Rancho Bernardo Community Park near Lake Hodge.  She has not been seen or heard from since.  Since Chelsea’s disappearance, volunteers and authorities have been vigilantly searching for the teen as far away as San Bernardino and Santa Barbara counties while lifeguards scour the San Diego coast line.  Chelsea’s parents are devastated and are in shock that their beloved daughter is missing.  Dan Schaitel, Chelsea’s cross-country coach, said that “the children are well-versed, especially the girls, to never go on a run by themselves,” So why did Chelsea decide to run on her own even though she knew it wasn’t safe?  Did Chelsea really believe it would be dangerous to run without a companion or did she actually think that nothing bad could happen to her within this seemingly perfect community?

I have lived in San Diego for almost 20 years, and I am consistently amazed with the “it will never happen to me” attitude among the people who live in this county.  I am a parent of two children and from the time they were old enough to understand, my husband and I have drummed into their heads to never walk anywhere by themselves and to never EVER talk to strangers.   I don’t understand the mentality that because we are living in Southern California, life here is as perfect as the weather – NOT.  San Diego is no longer the sleepy bedroom community of 40 years ago where over development, and over population didn’t exist.  San Diego of the past was a small town, a quiet and inexpensive suburbia that exemplified Southern California paradise.  San Diego today is a border city with border city issues.  The flow of guns and drugs has spilled over from our neighbors to the South as well as the increased traffic of undocumented immigrants.  According to a study from the Violent Crimes Institute, 139,000 sex crimes are annually committed by illegal aliens, a demographic that occupies a fair-sized portion of San Diego County. On top of that there are over 115,000 registered sex offenders in California alone, ranking the state as the 9th highest US per Capita (National Sex Offender List).  Information and the residence of these sex offenders are available at http://www.familywatchdog.us

Although statistics are reporting that San Diego’s crime rate has declined in 2009, these numbers are not the impetus for us to leave our doors and windows unlocked and to walk around with our head in the clouds.  Violent crime is still very much a reality in San Diego, and it needs to be taken seriously.

Parents have to take the time to consistently talk to their kids and reinforce that it is dangerous to walk alone and they should always travel within a group, especially in rural and desolate areas.  Teenagers are old enough to responsibly carry a personal protection device such as a pepper spray or mace and use it only when absolutely necessary.  Self defense courses are rarely taught in public schools, and parents have to make it their business to sign their kids up for self-defense classes so that they are prepared to protect themselves if faced with a potentially violent situation. Jennifer Johnson, founder of Heat Self Defense in San Diego, is dedicated to empowering girls and women through mental and physical self defense training that could someday save their lives.  Jennifer is an ex-cop who holds a degree in Criminal Justice Degree at Sacramento State University, and she truly believes in giving young women and girls the tools to learn how to be confident and powerful without living in fear.  Visit www.heatselfdefense.com to learn more about Jennifer’s self defense techniques.  Stingergirlz will schedule an entire blog dedicated to Jennifer, her self defense classes and what motivates her to help teach women and girls on how to protect themselves.

Even the nicest areas aren't safe, and the disappearance of Chelsea should at the very least serve as a wake-up call that we are not in Kansas anymore.  This article is not to bash San Diego, but only an attempt to remind people that whether you live in a small town, big city, or a rural community, we should never forget that predators are everywhere and we cannot let our guard down for a minute.  Remember the brutal home invasion murder of Kimberly Cates in the tiny rural town of Nashua, New Hampshire last fall?  The community was shocked that such a horrific crime could happen in their quiet and safe neighborhood.  Kimberly, 42 was viciously stabbed in her head, arms and torso, and her 11 year old daughter sustained critical stab wounds that required hours of surgery.  This killing was a random act in which the attackers had no connection to the victims.  John Quinlan, chairman of the Mont Vernon Board of Selectmen, said "Serious crime, particularly murder," Quinlan said, "is something that doesn't happen here, something you always see on television happening somewhere else. He also continued to state "I know that's an old thing to say about small-town America, but it really is true."  Is it really true?  I don’t think so. 

Small Town America is a concept of the past, just like Leave it to Beaver, Howdy Doody, and 5 cent cokes.    Our world is a very different place than the idyllic image of American suburbia with the white picket fence and mom always home to welcome her family with a hug and a hot meal on the table.  The 21st Century brings a brand new reality of both parents working, latch-key kids coming home to an empty house, fast-food dinners and very little family time.  Children today have too much freedom because there is no parent or guardian home to enforce rules and to set boundaries.

Face-to-face communication is also slowly becoming extinct and replaced by email, texting, and social networking applications.  In my opinion that as society becomes more isolated from social interaction, the less there will be empathy and compassion for each other as human beings.  We are living in a world of technology where emotions and feelings are dictated by make believe characters in which fighting, shooting and killing is the major preoccupation.  Our reactions to violence have become desensitized to the point where we don’t even believe it is real anymore but only a computer game where no one really gets hurt.  Violent crimes could never happen to us because it doesn’t exist.  But on the contrary, technology has opened the door to a whole new range of issues such as sexting, cyber stalking and bullying allowing predators into our home by way of the internet.  Children now can be harassed 24/7 on a global level without ever leaving their room.  Unless parents educate themselves on the signs that their child may be a victim of cyber crime, it could lead to a deadly conclusion such as depression and suicide.

As a mother my heart goes out to Chelsea King’s parents, and please let us not forget Amber   Dubois, the teenager who disappeared a year ago while walking to school by herself. The descriptions of these two girls are:

· Chelsea has strawberry blond hair, blue eyes, 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs about 115 pounds.

· Amber Dubois has brown short/medium hair, blue eyes, 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs about 125 pounds from the time of her disappearance.


 As I am writing this article, evidence has been found that has led to the arrest of registered sex-offender, 30 year old John Albert Gardner who resides in Lake Elsinore, 75 miles north of San Diego County. Chelsea has still yet to be found after 1,400 volunteers and 100 law enforcement agents searched on Sunday, February 28, 2010.

 Let us all keep our eyes open, our ears listening and our hearts praying for these two young women to come home safe and sound.  No parent should ever have to experience the horror of their child gone missing, and through communication, education, training and planning, none of us should ever have to lose a child to kidnapping or a violent crime ever again.  If you would like to learn more on how you can protect yourself and your family, visit http://www.meganslaw.ca.gov/protect.htm


Sexual Assault on Campus: Female Students Need to Get Serious About Safety

Lillian's evening economic class was about to wrap up, and she was looking forward to getting back to her dorm.  It's been a long day of classes, and all Lillian wanted to do is get a good night's sleep.  She walked out the door with some other students, and they quickly went their own way.  The winter night air was colder than usual, and Lillian wrapped her coat tighter around her body.  The campus seemed endless as she walked toward where her car was parked. Lillian thought she heard footsteps behind her, and she looked over her shoulder and spotted two men in dark clothing keeping up with her pace.  Lillian's heart sped up a beat, and she knew she was in trouble.  It was dark and deserted at such a late hour, and there was no one around to hear her scream for help.  Lillian started running as fast as she could and when she finally reached her car, she franically fumbled for her keys in her bag.  Unfortunately, one of the men grabbed the keys out of her hand and the other one punched Lillian unconscious.  They dragged her into her own car and drove away.  Lillian was found the next day in a wooded area near the campus, bloody, beaten, raped and robbed but still alive.  The predators took her car, her purse and her capacity to ever live without the horror of what had happened to her.  Lillian recovered physically, but psychologically she was never the same and lived in fear every day.  Lillian reported the crime, but without an accurate description of the men who attacked her, there was little the police could do to bring these fiends to justice.  Her school didn't do much to help and failed to provide Lillian with any post-traumatic counseling and guidance.  Lillian felt let down and wondered why she even bothered to tell anyone about the assault.  She felt alone and scared.

Lillian is one of the one in five women who will experience a sexual assault while attending college, and most of the crimes will be commited by someone they know.  Lillian didn't know her attackers but in many cases, the victim knows the assailant. Statistics reveal that college-age women are 4 times likely to be sexually assaulted and 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape). (RAINN.org).  Non-profit organizations such as RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network) has educated over 1,000,000 students in all 50 states, DC, Puerto Rico, and Canada about preventing and recovering from sexual assault.  These programs are critical in the fight to prevent violence against women on campus and help those who are victims.

Many students feel they are invincible to anything bad happening to them, but this attitude must change through education and awareness. Here are some common-sense safety tips that all students, on and off campus should follow:

  • Avoid walking in dark, deserted areas and use a high-traffic and well lit path whenever traveling on foot.
  • Always travel in a group at all possible, especially at night.  When going to a party or going out to party, have a trusted friend or friends accompany you.  Never leave a party or bar alone or with someone you don't know.
  • Never leave drinks unaccompanied and do not let anyone get a drink from you.  Date Rape drugs are extremely popular these days ,and they work very quickly to render the victim unconscious.
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times and avoid being distracted while walking to your destination.  Keep a safe distance away from strangers who ask for the time (and they are wearing a watch) or request to use your cell phone to make an emergency call. 
  • Carry a personal protection device such as a pepper spray or stun gun to have a fighting chance to stop a violent attack.
  • Personal Alarms are affordable, portable and are great tools that will draw attention to yourself and scare away a predator in an attempted assault.
  • When leaving your dorm or apartment, make sure all windows and doors are locked. Inexpensive door and window alarms are available to help protect your home from break ins.
  • When entering your dorm or apartment building, check to make sure no one has followed you inside.  Once you are inside your apartment or dorm, turn on the light and quickly scan your surroundings to make sure nothing is out of place or suspicious. 
  • Make sure you check the area around, under and inside your vehicle to make sure there is no one hiding and waiting to attack.  Be cautious of vans parked next to your car, particularly on the driver's side. 
  • Always carry a charged cell phone that is turned on and ready to dial 911 if necessary.
  • If you are confronted by a potential attacker, start SCREAMING at the top of your lungs, "GET OUT OF HERE!" "FIRE!"  or anything else that will draw attention.
  • Check for local self defense classes that will teach you the tools and techniques to defend yourself against a violent attack.

It is also important for parents to investigate crime statistics on college campuses that your child may be attending.  Below are some more resources to able collect as much information as you need to help keep your child safe:

Security On Campus - an organization focused on campus safety issues

U.S. Department of Education college crime statistics, check out your school here.

Security On Campus police guide for date rape on campus

U.S. State Department country facts good for travelers or for reports and papers

U.S. State Department tips for traveling students

U.S. Government Publication tips for women traveling alone

U.S.Transportation Security Administration Travel security issues and a downloadable list of Permitted & Prohibited Items for airline travel.

U.S. State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs American Citizens Services offers government issued international travel safety advisories.


www.rainn.org, hotline number is 1-800-656-HOPE