Most times you see it coming
It was 11:30 p.m. on a Monday night. Betty was doing her shopping for the week after getting off work. Several times while shopping up and down the isles she had noticed a man that made her feel uncomfortable.
As she put it: “Just the way he looked at me gave me the creeps.” While standing at the checkout line she saw this guy reading the flier on the bulletin board by the front exit. After paying, she pushed her cart past the man and out the door. Betty had not gone three feet when she realized that this man was right behind her. She instantly turned her cart around and went back into the store, found the manager, related what had just happened, and asked to be escorted to her car.
As Betty and the manager walked toward her car they could see the man sitting in a car right next to Betty’s. When he saw she was not alone he drove off.
It was the middle of August in Old Colorado Springs, about 2 in the afternoon, the temperature was in the 90s. Linda pulled into a metered parking spot, put money in the meter and walked across the street to browse through a couple of her favorite stores. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed a car pull in next to hers.
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After an hour of shopping, Linda left a jewelry store across from her car and started to cross the street. The first thing she said she noticed was a man sitting in an older model car with the windows down next to her car. Linda realized it was the same car she had seen pull into the parking space as she crossed the street earlier. She said that she didn’t think much of it at first until she noticed that the meter had the red flag up.
At this point, Linda said that she got a bad feeling. As she stepped off the curb, Linda started to think the situation over. She said it seemed strange to her that someone would be sitting in their car on a day that was so hot, and it was not the time of day that a person would be waiting to pick someone up from work.
Linda had reached the middle of the street when the man started to get out of his car. This was enough for Linda. There were just too many coincidences happening in too short a time. She turned around, went back into the store and asked the manager to walk her to her car.
Just like in the first story when the man in the car saw that his potential victim had changed the scenario and was accompanied by someone else, the predator quickly drove off.
Over the last 20 years, I have had the privilege to work for dozens of organizations instructing self-protection for women, children and men. I have received hundreds of phone calls from students who wanted to thank me for the information I gave them or to relate to me how they used the information in my programs to keep themselves safe.
Thirteen women have called me to say that they were attacked and were able to beat the attacker up and get away. But for every one of these phone calls, I have received dozens of calls like the stories I have shared with you.
The two stories I have related have one common denominator. In both cases, the women identified that they felt uncomfortable, and acted on their feelings. Ninety percent of all attacks on men, women, and children are avoidable if a person knows what to look for and trusts their feelings.
At some point, people who have been victims will say something to the effect, “You know, I felt something was wrong but I talked myself out of listening to my feelings.”
In our society, feelings are rarely considered valid justification for actions, but to my way of thinking, the only good reason for doing anything is that you felt like it. I am just getting warmed up here, so in my next column I will take a hard look at the stumbling blocks that society has laid out to prevent people from trusting acting on their feelings.
Mathew Bayley’s Vail Academy of Martial Arts is accepting applications for special summer sessions that highlight children’s and teen women’s self-protection. Call 949-8121 or log on to vailacademyofmartialarts.com