Highly recommended reading for all you ladies out there….

12 Jan

Brad was supposed to be on tour right now, but because of transportation issues he was home last night.  He’s been gone the past weekend, so I had armed the bedroom like I do whenever he’s out of town.  As he jumped onto his side of the bed, he almost impaled himself with the machete that I had hidden under the covers.  When Brad is out of town, my whole house is booby-trapped.  This is something I started doing when I was a single mom, and it’s the only way I can sleep soundly when Brad is on the road.  I used to laugh and admit that it’s probably a little overzealous.  But I’ve been reading this amazing book that is teaching me to no longer laugh at that gnawing feeling in my stomach that tells me to protect myself.  Because I’m not nuts… the world we live in is.

A little over a month ago, the Omniscient Stevil Kinevil and his lovely lady-friend were visiting my corner of California, and we went out for some drinks.  We got on the topic of safety and stalkers, and I told them about a stalker that I had in college who went so far as to break into my apartment while I was asleep inside.   That experience taught me to sleep with a croquet mallet, and booby-trap my house when home alone at night.  They suggested that I read an amazing book called The Gift of Fear: and other survival signals that protect us from violence by Gavin de Becker.  So I promptly went home, ordered it, and waited until I had the time to start reading it.  For a month it sat on my desk, staring at me- and I staring back longingly.  But the night before last I finally decided to pick it up and just take in the first couple pages- and now I can’t put it down. Seriously… this book is already changing how I watch people, and how I pay attention to my own reactions to others.  And I can’t think of a better book that should be mandatory reading for every woman of every age in our society.

Have you ever watched the tv show “Criminal Minds” about the group of behavioral analysts who solve crazy murders and find serial killers?  I own the box sets of the first couple seasons (I got them because I just loooove Mandy Patinkin and his crazy eyebrows), and that show was fun for me to watch because I loved ‘reading’ the behaviors of the bad guys to try to figure out what they were going to do next (and I loved watching Mandy’s eyebrows).  This book is exactly that- teaching women to really watch and analyze the behaviors of others to keep ourselves safe…. but most importantly, to reintroduce ourselves to our long lost and silenced intuition.

The book is written for primarily women, because men of all ages and from all parts of the world are more violent than women.  De Becker states in a note in the first pages that having the book be “politically correct would be statistically incorrect”- and that alone is greatly appreciated.  I’m only a little more than halfway through since I’m only able to steal moments here and there to read… but the amount of  information that is packed into the first 50 pages alone is overwhelming… but all broken down into the most basic of common sense.  We live in a brutal and violent culture; we passively accept the violence and brutality; but we ignore our own most primal instincts of fear and cling to the sham that people are above violence, leaving ourselves wide open to be victims of our brutally violent society.    In the 20 minutes it’s taken me to write this, approx 25 women were raped.  de Becker made a chilling analogy that “… if a full jumbo jet crashed into a mountain killing everyone on board, and if that happened every month, month in and month out, the number of people killed still wouldn’t equal the number of women murdered by their husbands and boyfriends each year.” That sincerely makes my stomach hurt.  But what is fully amazing is that for all the “unpredictable behavior” that people display- it’s actually quite predictable.  It’s just that we’ve been conditioned to ‘turn off’ that little voice inside our head that says “Hey- that guy standing by my car in this empty parking garage looks sketchy as fuck… run!”.  Instead, we’ve been reconditioned to think “I don’t like this situation- but I don’t want to make a big deal out of what probably is nothing, and I don’t want to go back to work/the store/etc to get someone to walk me to my car over silly paranoia”.  Silly Paranoia is actually the last of our animal instincts that lets us know if a situation/person/place is safe or not… and that Silly Paranoia could be the difference between walking away safe, or being assaulted or worse.  Our instincts have been given a cute little name, Women’s Intuition, and dismissed as fleeting hysteria.  But 77 women raped an hour (which is the most current average number) isn’t hysteria- it’s a reason to prepare ourselves for what’s out there.  We shouldn’t live in fear- but we should learn to listen to what our bodies and instincts tell us, and to really watch the people around us so that we no longer have to be afraid.

As I was reading the first few chapters of this book, I kept thinking of my college stalker.  At the time, I was astonished and shocked that he went to such frightening lengths to get to me.  But now, reading this book, I can see that all the signs were there.  He somehow knew my class schedule and was always waiting for me.  He started showing up at the restaurant my boyfriend worked at, sitting for hours and just glaring at him.  He somehow got my unlisted number and began calling all the time.  But I though that he was just clingy and awkward, and I didn’t want to be mean.  Then he broke into my apartment on the one night of the week that I was ever alone there.  All the behaviors prior to him breaking in were warning signs that it would escalate- but I didn’t want to pay attention to them because I didn’t want to “hurt the poor socially inept fella” or believe that anyone in my safe little life could be a predator.  But they can.  And it’s time for us to start really seeing the signs for what they are, and being mean if we need to in order to keep ourselves safe.

So every one of you- get this book (it’s only a couple dollars used on Amazon).  Mothers, get this for your daughters (it’s a heartbreaking read at times, so keep age appropriateness in mind and save it to give to your daughter when she’s a little older).  Brothers, boyfriends, husbands and friends- get this for your sisters, mothers, girlfriends, wives and lady-buddies.  It really is that amazing and powerful.  Scouts honor.

Off I go to run around with Bradly until he goes back on the road (yay for babysitters and nights out!).  Happy reading, and every one of you have a safe and wonderful night!!!


44 Responses to “Highly recommended reading for all you ladies out there….”

  1. haley January 12, 2010 at 8:04 pm #

    Ohh, I love Criminal Minds, that’s my show phase currently. I love the dorky awkward guy.

    That sounds like a really good book, I shall have to read it in the near future. Thanks! That man sounds horrifying. That’s insane, what did he do once he was inside your apartment?

    • Kristen Ferrell January 14, 2010 at 10:03 am #

      I love the dorky guy too… but he’s got nothing on Mandy!

      “My college stalker” is a long and creepy story that I’ll be sure to tell sometime soon. I promise. 😀

      • haley January 16, 2010 at 11:33 am #

        I can’t wait. 🙂

  2. rachel January 12, 2010 at 8:36 pm #

    thanks for caring so much about us!!

    • Kristen Ferrell January 14, 2010 at 10:04 am #

      Always. We ladies have to look out for each other. And we ladies THOROUGHLY appreciate the fellas, like the author of this book and my pal Steve, who spread safety around and look out for us too!!

  3. rachel January 12, 2010 at 8:37 pm #

    thanks for caring so much about us!

  4. Candice January 12, 2010 at 8:37 pm #

    It’s very true. Red flags missed in the past have a way of making me feel batshit paranoid in the present. It’s hard to know when it’s legitimate or overboard. Perhaps I shall give this book a go.

    • Kristen Ferrell January 14, 2010 at 10:11 am #

      I think my husband mistakes that ‘red flag’ feeling as ‘excitement’…. because he befriends some of the most bat-shit-crazy people, and then wonders why drama explodes in his face. I’ve gotten really good over the years of being able tell right away if someone is bananas or not- the problem is that Brad only listens to me about 40% of the time. The rest of the time he’s scratching his head and wondering how to push away the new psycho-buddy he brought into his world.
      Why don’t boys listen when it’s been proved time and time again that they should?

  5. Angela Easton January 12, 2010 at 8:42 pm #

    I love the dorky guy from Criminal Minds too, but I have a secret spot in my heart for the geeks and nerds. You know, you’re right – there have been instances where I was more concerned about making a fool out of myself than protecting myself by standing up to a weirdo lurking around. Every girl runs into creeps – at the bar, at work, school, etc. The book you’re recommending seems like a must and I think I will buy one. OOOOHH nights out and babysitters are divine! have a good night with you hubs.

    • Kristen Ferrell January 14, 2010 at 10:27 am #

      The most important part is learning not to be afraid to make an ass out of yourself (because safety is more important than pride). What I have done on numerous occasions is just start screaming. Twice, while walking from a bar to my car late at night by myself (and once in a parking garage) I had sketchy dudes walking too close behind me and I got that ‘icky feeling’ in my stomach. So I just turn to face them, and start screaming like I’ve been stabbed… and they take off. If people stop and ask if you’re ok, just say “that guy was following me, so I scared him off”. They always understand.
      And it’s actually pretty fun to scream like that in a parking garage, because it echos so much and is OVERWHELMINGLY loud. 🙂

  6. kat January 13, 2010 at 12:12 am #

    I learned the hard way to pay attention to my instincts. Now I always do. If my nerves scream at me to get off at the well-lit bus stop by the fire station because somebody is giving off a vibe I don’t like, I do it. Every single time. Since I’ve begun to listen to my instincts, I haven’t been mugged, followed, stalked, or assaulted. That twinge, that feeling of sudden alertness, is the subconscious’ way of warning that something it noticed says that shit is not what it should be.

    • Kristen Ferrell January 14, 2010 at 10:35 am #

      Our brain takes in absolutely everything around us all the time. It’s how we can navigate through heavy traffic and predict how other drivers will behave… tiny movements and signals that we may not even consciously be aware of. Which is why when we get that sickly intuition that things aren’t right but we can’t explain why- just listen. Every time. Better safe than sorry- ALWAYS.

  7. Lemissa January 13, 2010 at 12:05 pm #

    77 women per hour. That stat broke me for today.

    • Kristen Ferrell January 14, 2010 at 10:28 am #

      Oh, lady… the stats and stories in this book will make you and your big heart cry. Seriously. If you read this- be warned. It’s amazing…. but it hurts to look at.

  8. Miss Lemon January 13, 2010 at 12:28 pm #

    intuition will not let you down once you recognize it. There are many instances where I should of listened to my inner voice and didn’t. I don’t make that mistake anymore.
    (Intuition has also been right on everytime a lover has been unfaithful to me. I knew it before I could prove it.)

    • Kristen Ferrell January 14, 2010 at 4:44 pm #

      My intuition ALWAYS tells me when either of my boys are doing things they’re not supposed to be doing (though it’s all fairly innocent stuff). I’m pretty sure that it’s just because I know them both so well- but it annoys the hell out of both of them when I catch them in the midst of bullshit.

      As women, we do have to be more aware. We generally don’t have the physical strength of men, and are raised to ‘quietly endure’. So until we all of a sudden start growing tons more muscles, we’re going to have to rely on our intuition and our heightened emotional awareness (which women do possess over men) to protect ourselves.

  9. Katie January 13, 2010 at 12:53 pm #

    I will have to read this! My family is already panicing that I’m getting ready to move to NYC. My brother in law bought me pink pepper spray for the holiday! haha

    • Kristen Ferrell January 14, 2010 at 4:47 pm #

      Ya know, pepper foam is MUCH better than pepper spray. When you shoot pepper spray, there’s a pretty likely chance that you’ll get hit with it too because once it hits the air it’s EVERYWHERE. But pepper foam comes out in a targeted foam jet stream, and only gets on what it’s sprayed at. Which makes it safer for you, and you can get away. And the foam absorbs into the skin so it cant just be wiped off. Here’s one place that you can order it online: http://www.tbotech.com/pepperfoam.htm

      I like that your pepper spray comes in a pink container. That’s adorable!!!

  10. daMamma January 13, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

    Thanks so much on the tip. I’ll pick up a copy for myself and pass it on to my teenage daughter. ((hugs))

    • Kristen Ferrell January 14, 2010 at 4:52 pm #

      It’s such a powerful read! ESPECIALLY for teenaged girls! Our society does such a disservice to our young girls, and gives them too much of a false sense of security. We don’t want our young ladies to live in fear- but they do need to be really aware. We live in one of the most violent countries, but we don’t teach our kids how to keep themselves to be safe. It doesn’t make any sense. And since our society isn’t doing anything but glorifying the violence and feeding off it, it’s up to us to educate ourselves on how to exist in it in a healthy way.
      You’re a good mama. 😀
      ((hugs)) right back at ya!!!!

  11. wunnspeed January 14, 2010 at 4:50 am #

    Funny that you know Stevil as well. My connection is through the K.C./Minneapolis singlespeed lunatics. Bizarre how small this world really is.

    • Kristen Ferrell January 14, 2010 at 4:53 pm #

      Stevil is a glorious creature. And so is his beautiful lady. They make me smile just thinking of them. And I LOVE how small the world really is, and that there are funny connections like this! YAY!!!

  12. whitney January 14, 2010 at 8:14 pm #

    fuckin-a i just bought the book on ebay!

    it was only $8 with shipping whereas it was $10+ on amazon. 🙂

    • Kristen Ferrell January 14, 2010 at 8:29 pm #

      I must have gotten one of the last super-cheap used ones. But you’ll love it. Cross my heart.

      • whitney January 18, 2010 at 4:10 pm #

        James and i were talking about all this last night. he was saying that they way a person carries themselves can also be vital sign of victimizing themselves. like a person who walks sort of aloof, hunched and doesnt make very good eye contact will stick out like a sore thumb to a predator. so it’s best to walk tall, with your chest out and with lots of confidence (not in a macho douchbaggy way though, hah!) i still havent received the book, but i cannot wait to read it! thank you (in advance) for suggesting it, because i am sure i will love it! 🙂

        • Kristen Ferrell January 18, 2010 at 5:06 pm #

          In “public stranger attacks” (like in situations where women get jumped in alleys, parking garages, parks, etc), how you carry yourself and project yourself IS really important. Attackers chose places that are isolated- but they generally chose women who they don’t see as a threat or who they don’t think can/will put up a fight if threatened. They want to attack, rape, and then get out of there as quickly and quietly as possible. If you walk with complete confidence, looking people in the eye, and as if you can carry your own- they are less likely to chose you because they don’t want to jump someone who is going to scream and fight back (and possibly draw attention to their attack and get caught). If you put out the attitude that you’re not someone to fuck with, the chances that someone will fuck with you will go down.

  13. christine January 15, 2010 at 8:51 am #

    it really is terrifying..I ALWAYS lock my car doors, front door, EVERYWHERE. When I am at work alone, I keep the whole building locked up. And its not just paranoia talking, but seriously…you cannot trust anyone, especially strangers. It is so hard to be a young woman and live in a world where men overstep comfort levels and make some kind of justification for it (She was ‘asking’ for it, blah blah)
    As a side story to this, I had a roommate who let some strange guy in our apartment when I wasn’t home (and she was home alone) who said he knew me and asked to use the bathroom. HELLO!!!!!! SOMETHING NOT RIGHT HERE! Ladies…use common sense and protect yourselves! Not matter how innocent someone seems to be..the world we live in is crazy, and you cannot be naive.

    • Kristen Ferrell January 15, 2010 at 8:32 pm #

      Predators RELY on coming across as innocent or harmless. If every hazardous person out there made a terrifying first impression, then there wouldn’t be a need for books like this. We would be able to see them coming. Trust is something that needs to be earned- and that ESPECIALLY goes for strangers, or people we don’t know well. It’s all about locking doors and keeping people at arms-length until they’ve PROVEN that they’re trustworthy (and that kind of proof takes a long time).

  14. LRA January 19, 2010 at 5:34 pm #

    Hey, girl! I’ve heard of the book before. Yeah, a stalker broke into my apartment when I was about 21 years old (I’m 35 now) and tried to rape me (he did not succeed because I fought and screamed… he kept trying to shush me– if you can believe that!). I have no qualms with making myself a fool for safety.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Kristen Ferrell January 22, 2010 at 11:57 pm #

      “he kept trying to shush me”….. Jesus! That’s insane!!
      But alot of women DO stay quiet when faced with danger. There are 3 responses to danger: Freeze, Fight, or Flight. Alot of women ‘freeze’ because they haven’t been taught any other way, or they’ve been un-taught their other defense mechanisms through social conditioning. The bad guys rely on this.

      I’m so glad you came out of that ok, and that you’ve got some solid defense mechanisms!!! Because that’s TERRIFYING!!! But at least now you know for sure that you react well when faced with a horrifying situation (and that’s a really secure feeling).

  15. Lex January 21, 2010 at 7:56 am #

    On short walks at night to and from the car I actually carry a HUGE flash from my old Minolta and keep it on. I’ve blinded a few people who may have meant no harm, but better safe than them losing their eyesight for about 8 seconds, which is long enough to run away. Or flash them again, I guess.

    • Kristen Ferrell January 22, 2010 at 11:48 pm #

      That’s actually a really good idea. I like weapons- but there’s always a good chance that any weapon can be turned and used against you.

      What I’ve found works best- standing and screaming. You may look like a total nutjob- but I’d rather be thought of as crazy than get raped. I had some guy follow me to my car after I left a bar and try to push his way into my car… and I just started screaming at the top of my lungs. I didn’t scream “Help”, or “Fire”, or anything coherent… just screaming hysterically over and over like I was in a horror movie. He took off like lightening, people came running- and I was safe.
      Ya gotta do whatever it takes to get away.

      • Lex January 31, 2010 at 8:46 am #

        I know, I had a stun gun for several of my later years in Lawrence, but I had the same fear, that it could so easily be taken out of my hands and used on me instead. Same with the sprays. Actually, when I first got the stun gun I still had such a mortal fear of dogs (there were a lot off leash on Gavin’s street before we moved in together) that I kept it on out of my godawful fear of those dogs, and within a year I was volunteering with the adult dogs at the shelter, snagged a dog who was listed to be “put down” the next day, and still work with huge dogs to this day (Animal Haven here in KC is a no kill shelter, and they just ROCK!).

        But regardless, the stun gun was soooo bug and bulky that it spent too much time in getting knocked around in my hoodie pocket once I’d taken the hoodie off and started short circuiting or something. Who knows. The end result was that it started kind of giving me a light shock whenever I used it, and no one needs THAT kind of “self-defense”.

        OMG, you know how that stun gun got tested? Brett Allen is the one who did it! He wanted to see what it felt like to be tazered and I refused to do it to him, so he blasted himself in the ass while me and Gavin watched! It was HILARIOUS! One of my most treasured memories, Brett Fucking Allen using my stun gun on himself.

        I met John Douglas once (he was the FBI profiler interviewed the most for “Silence of the Lambs” and has several books out) and he said that the absolute main thing that you should do is fight like hell if anyone tries to get you in a car or take you somewhere; don’t agree so you won’t get hurt in that moment, just fight like hell because once a predator gets you somewhere you almost NEVER get away. Period. And, well, he was the one who had to work so many horrible crimes for the FBI, so I figured his advice was better than most people’s. His books are actually some good reading, the 1st 2, don’t know about the others.

        OK, I know I leave comments that are WAY too long, but 1 more point? Criminals interviewed from prison, sexual predators, rapists, etc. say that if you’re a walker or jogger, have a dog. Or even burglars and robbers. They don’t want the hassle of a dog so they (this part creeps me out) wait for someone without a dog or the next house, etc. My dog’s a big baby, but when I walk at night and these Time Warner workmen are at this one box (I think they just hang out for overtime or something, this box could NOT need this much work) in my neighborhood at night, my Owen gets between me and them IMMEDIATELY. He’s a baby and kind of a wuss to us, but to other people an 85 pound Rhodesian Ridgeback is somehow really scary. (Ask me about Owen sometime, BTW, one of the worst cases of abuse Animal Haven had ever seen. Let’s just say he was dumped in a park weighing 60 lbs. and now healthy he’s 85).

        Sorry for the length, I just hope that helps someone out there. I really do. Far too many sexual predators are out there to make room for those guys with a bag of weed.

  16. Lex January 21, 2010 at 8:05 am #

    Shit! I was so excited to post that that I posted as myself BEFORE posting my general Kristen’s Blog Commentariat apology. I’ve apologized to Kristen a billion times, which doesn’t even cover it since she was incredible enough to even respond to me.

    I also want to apologize to you all here. Eh, I know plenty of you had more fun than frowns commenting about me, and I deserve it, but I still wanted to say I was sorry, for what it’s worth. And if that’s not enough? I wrecked my car yesterday and got whiplash for anyone still wanting any anti-Lex mojo jojo.

    • Kristen Ferrell January 22, 2010 at 11:38 pm #

      It’s a new year, and we’re going to start it with new happys and purging out all bad feelings and ickyness. All is good and forgiven and the water is officially under the bridge.

      Ladies have enough to worry about (ie: all the stuff this post is about)… we just can’t afford to be fighting amongst each other.

      2010 = the year of the hippy good feelings.

      • Lex January 29, 2010 at 1:10 am #

        Absolutely true! I’m glad for that water under the bridge;) I actually got such hippy feelings that I’m now REALLY into John Lennon. This HAS to be the year of good feelings, I’ve had enough.

        I’ve taken to smiling and greeting people, just strangers, because it seems to make their day better and I hope that they pass it on. As for threatening looking guys though, I still carry that gigando flash in the on position on the way to and from the car.

        Another tip I heard is that when you get in the car, IMMEDIATELY lock the doors and turn on the engine and THEN seatbelt. That way if anyone threatening comes along you can just drive away as fast as you can. I personally like to help people who might be in need, but you just can’t take chances these days.

        Also, never fall asleep with ice cream melting in one hand and your laptop on your lap. I killed my MacBook this way. I tried mouth to keyboard, but I’m going to register the Apple Care I bought with it and supposedly they’ll fix/get you a new one. There’s your Lex being an idiot story for the day;)

      • Lex January 31, 2010 at 8:47 am #

        And thanks just one more time for the water under the bridge. You have no idea how much that means to me;)

  17. ike January 22, 2010 at 8:58 pm #

    I finally got this natural pepper extract… for Christmas, Blair’s 2am reserve that I didn’t even ask for and it is so freakin’ hot it could harm me and you know it is really like I am pressured to participate in subtleties peculiar enough that I think reality may pose a threat to everyone if my fear of the dark was not counter indulged through searing hot pain and maybe just maybe if the pursued could just slow down a minute and get maimed total realization would suspend all previous fear of not escaping and just sprint ahead real fast and then I was like Kristen Ferrell that is not what men do, they don’t maim you for a collection of self centered exposure call their days off? Then I was like Kristen Ferrell probably already knows this,

  18. ike January 22, 2010 at 9:09 pm #

    I finally got this natural pepper extract… for Christmas, Blair’s 2am reserve that I didn’t even ask for and it is so freakin’ hot it could harm me and you know it is really like I am pressured to participate in subtleties peculiar enough that I think reality may pose a threat to everyone if my fear of the dark was not counter indulged through searing hot pain and maybe just maybe if the pursued could just slow down a minute and get maimed total realization would suspend all previous fear of not escaping and just sprint ahead real fast and then I was like Kristen Ferrell that is not what men do, they don’t maim you for a collection of self centered exposures called their days off? Then I was like Kristen Ferrell probably already knows this,

    • Kristen Ferrell January 22, 2010 at 11:24 pm #

      That was a really long sentence you just wrote! And I think I got a little lost in the translation.
      If I’m hearing you right (and forgive me if I’m not), I definitely want to lay it out there that I in NO WAY think that all men (or even the majority of men- or even a large percentage of men) are violent predators. Absolutely not. But I do believe that there are enough violent predators out there that all women need to learn to protect themselves. When the latest numbers show that 1 out of 4 women will have been sexually assaulted in some form by the time they are 21- that is terrifying. Women can be predators as well, and men can be victims of predators… but the vast majority of predators are men, and the vast majority of victims are women. I don’t mean to generalize all males- I’m just trying to keep ladies safe from the males that are no good.
      To all the good guys out there- you know who you are, and I hope you know that my rants aren’t directed at you. 😀

      • ike January 23, 2010 at 8:24 am #

        The Annie Wilkes disease, holy shit the mouse is back outside and it’s bigger! Maybe it’s an F’n rat? Oh never mind! Just let me get my camera….

  19. meowshell January 25, 2010 at 9:40 pm #

    Hi Kristen,
    just thought I’d let you know that the awesome ‘have you seen this’ cat on the poster in your previous post is the Pallas’s Cat:



    They are from Central Asia and are about the size of a small house cat. They also have the longest, thickest coat of any cat(it is the fluffiest cat ever) and are most certainly awesome. cats.

    • Kristen Ferrell January 27, 2010 at 4:59 pm #

      Thank you!!! Now I know what to search for when I go on my quest to illegally own this wild animal. My other kitties need a new fluffy friend!!

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