Every Woman for Herself

Young girls take the necessary precautions to feel safe while out in public


submitted by Sarah Tate

Tate’s lipstick pepper spray is used as a secondary safeguard when downtown.

Ianne Salvosa, Reporter

Trigger Warning: Mention of Sexual Assault

Don’t walk alone. Lock your car as soon as you get in. Watch out for strangers. These are only a few worries running through the minds of young women, when they find themselves in risky situations. 

From a young age, the phrase “don’t talk to strangers” seems to come out of adults’ mouths like a broken record. However, the topic becomes more understandable and utilized as kids mature. In the height of Amber Alerts and news apps sending out notifications of shootings, it has become increasingly important to have the knowledge of how to escape from a dangerous situation. Luckily, safety doesn’t always require having a black belt in karate or a vast array of criminal knowledge. For junior Sarvani Kunapareddy and senior Dessa Outman, a self defense class taught them all about ensuring their safety. 

“I learned different techniques for if you see something suspicious and what you should do in that situation,” Kunapareddy said. “Watching my surroundings, watching for anything I don’t know I’m going to see, and having more control in the moment so you know what’s going on.”

The class, taken at Ultimate Defense in St. Peters, teaches anyone 13 years or older about how to take on an attacker. For $45, the one-time class offers a wealth of information on where to target an attacker and how to injure them. Outman also thought the class would provide information she could use in her everyday life.

“I thought it would be good to know how to protect myself because now that I can drive I’m by myself in places all the time and I’m easily scared so I felt like it just put my mind at ease,” Outman said.

While it is true that a high risk situation doesn’t pop up everyday, it has potential to rear its head when least expected.

“I do believe some situations it [self defense] should be used because you don’t know what other people are thinking or what’s going to happen,” Kunapareddy said. 

In many instances, self defense takes the form of more physical protection. While it is monumentally important, another type of self defense can take the form of a device much, much smaller.

Senior Sarah Tate uses a small bottle of pepper spray cleverly disguised as a tube of lipstick. 

“I carry it around when I’m going to St. Louis, walking around, I like to feel protected,” Tate said. First spotting the inconspicuous tool on an advertisement online, Tate thought it would be a necessary purchase. Wary of the crime downtown, the tiny spray provides a sense of reassurance to any wanting defense.

“Girls need some type of protection these days,” Tate said. The pepper spray only costs $11.99, a small charge for the priceless amount of defense it brings.

Ianne Salvosa
A ROBOCOPP Grenade, pictured above, releases a 120 dB sound when triggered to alert others of an attack.

In Lake St. Louis and its surrounding areas, it may seem inessential to know how to physically ward off an attacker or carry a weapon. Many students grow up in suburban neighborhoods, not fearing the sounds of gunshots or robberies that are commonly associated with cities. But nevertheless, crime doesn’t cease to exist anywhere where human life stands.

Sophomore Madison Pegg takes the necessary precautions when out in public.

I usually stick car keys or house keys in between the fingers of my fist whenever I’m walking through a parking lot or somewhere suspicious,” Pegg said. “I’ve read the stories and I know way too many people who have been sexually assaulted or raped.”

In the midst of the #MeToo movement, more attention has been brought up to the struggle of women who stay in silence surrounding their experience with sexual assault. Everyday habits such as jogging puts women in fear of being targeted by men, disrupting their way of life.

“I think the way men view women needs to change. I’ve been cat-called since I was 12, my sister and mom have been cat called several times – but my older brother who is 23 has never been cat called,” Pegg said. “Even if things do change, I will always be stuck in the habit and be on edge in certain situations. It doesn’t mean we can’t teach the next generation to not live on edge if things improve in our society.”

So what is the next step? There are many facets of the American society that could change to solve the issue of crimes against women but girls having to go out of their way to protect themselves is not one of them. All modes of protection previously mentioned are not a sign for women to hide underneath their covers and never leave their house. It isn’t a warning to teenage girls that boys are out to get them and that they should immediately accumulate an arsenal of pepper spray. Defensive skills are only a precaution to anticipating high risk events – a “what if” situation.

But in the age of mace and misdemeanors, it is better to be safe than sorry.