The ABC’s to personal safety on campus
At a Christian university, it’s easy to form a false sense of security. Surrounded by believers, it becomes natural to think that the likelihood of getting attacked, robbed, or abducted is slim to none. But this is not necessarily the case. As an open campus, anyone is permitted to walk around and even enter the majority of the buildings here on campus. Many of the students who live in off-campus housing such as The Village, must commit to a daily 3/4 mile walk or bike ride to and from campus near a woodsy area. So, while Regent’s campus is lovely, and has had little trouble with criminal activity in the past, having some basic personal safety skills ready in case a time comes prepares you for such an unfortunate occasion.
I have conducted an interview with local personal safety expert, and fourth degree black belt Sifu Jim Esposito, owner of Progressive Fighting Systems of Virginia Beach, as well as CBN’s Corporal B. Riendeau.
Originating from the incredible Bruce Lee, Contemporary Jeet Kune Do is a style of martial arts that is considered to be one of the most easily learned and applied. Sifu Jim has graciously provided a basic outline on how to better protect yourself while on campus.
*Please note that you can never be too prepared and that this article in no way prepares you for an assault. The only way to be fully prepared is to train in a self-defense class .*
The ABC’s of how to begin protecting yourself are: Awareness, Boundaries, Confrontation, Defense and Education.
Train yourself to always be Aware of who and what surrounds you, and trust your instincts. If there are people nearby, make sure that you have an idea of how far away they are, if you see them following behind you, etc. Try to look for items you could use to protect yourself like broomsticks, flower pots, chairs, or even something to hide in or behind like buildings. You should also be Aware of what services you have available to you. Corporal B. Riendeau states that Regent allows students to carry pepper spray on campus, and that police escorts to and from cars are available upon request should you feel threatened in any way. While pepper spray is certainly better than nothing, pepper gel proves more useful than pepper spray because if a gust of wind comes, gel won’t spray back into your own eyes whereas pepper spray very likely will.
Everyone has a “personal bubble” and each person has a different comfort zone for how close people can get before they become uncomfortable. Figure out your Boundaries and be ready to defend yourself if someone approaches you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable. Some people, myself included have become worried over this defense tactic because they worry they might offend someone who didn’t intend to harm them. But, a person who does not intend to threaten you generally won’t have a problem with you backing up or asking them to do so.
If you notice that someone has been behind you for a while it’s okay to Confront them, in fact you should. Turn around, look at them, and yell “Are you following me?” This sends a message not just to the person following you, but to the people around you. That person will likely get scared off because if anyone hears you, they know they could get caught. Even if they just so happen to be behind you going in the same direction, it’s better to accidentally embarrass someone or yourself than to let it go and risk an attack.
If the event occurs, and you find yourself on the verge of being attacked, do whatever you need to do to keep yourself safe. You can use the aforementioned environmental weapons (the items you noticed in your surrounding area) and/or the hiding places you noticed to Defend yourself.
When asked, the Corporal suggests the following if you get into a confrontation on campus:
“Get to a blue call button, scream loudly and run away. Find as many people as you can and stay close to them.”
Unfortunately, one does not always have the opportunity to get to a blue call button. If you are able to get to one however, everything you can do helps.
Finally, Education is the key to personal safety, and taking a few self-defense classes would be a great investment in you and your friend’s safety. Often times you can even find free seminars available to college students. These classes go further than simple awareness techniques, they teach you practical maneuvers to get yourself out of one’s hold and away from the attacker. Sifu says:
“It is important to take classes from certified instructors in the art of self-defense. The class should give you the theory, application and time to practice each element that you are taught.”
If the previous steps fail, and you have not been able to prevent yourself from entering a bad situation, here are some other helpful tips:
1. Do whatever you can to prevent yourself from being restrained. Once you become restrained, fighting back becomes significantly more difficult. Biting, kicking, and dropping all of your weight to the ground, are all useful methods to getting out of someone’s hold.
2. Be aware of the places that require the least amount of force, but simultaneously cause the most amount of pain. Unlike in the MMA, there are no rules to where a person can hit. Even if you have to gouge someone’s eye or bite their hand in order to get away, do what it takes and don’t hesitate.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding campus police policies or safety protocol, you can contact them at 757-226-2075. Learn more about personal safety at the Progressive Fighting Systems of Virginia Beach website.