The Boston Police Department District A-1 Downtown/A-15 Charlestown hosted a women’s self-defense course on August 20. Sergeant Gary J. Eblan, Registrar of the Boston Police Academy, presented an engaging and informative class, Street Smarts: Reducing Your Odds, to about 40 people. Street Smarts emphasizes trusting one’s instincts, recognizing dangers, and knowing one’s options.
“This class is not about how to fight,” says Sgt. Eblan. “It’s about how to recognize danger signs and having a plan.”
Sgt. Eblan prioritized making yourself a tough target and finding strength in numbers. Attracting the attention of others is important because the more people you get involved in a situation, the safer you will be.
Anyone who grew up in Boston knows that as soon as a fire engine comes roaring up a hill, the neighborhood lights up – people will look out their windows and run outside to see what the commotion is about. People do not respond as much to hearing, “Help!” because getting involved means that they could get injured. Find your inner boisterous Bostonian and howl, “Fire!” and people will surely come. Policemen on another floor ran up the stairs at the sound of Sgt. Eblan’s screaming. If you are working late in an office, pulling the fire alarm will grab attention.
“You need to trust your instincts; they’re what has kept us alive for as long as we’ve been around,” says Sgt. Eblan. “They will not let you down.”
The more distance you have, the safer you will be. Sgt. Eblan went on to describe what victims and perpetrators look like. A person’s body language sends a strong message.
Staring at the ground with your shoulders hunched or talking/texting on your phone will make you an easy target. Be aware of what is around you. Walk confidently with your back straight and your shoulders squared.
If you sense someone following you, turn around and look. Let the person know that he has been recognized, but do not engage them. Create distance between yourself and whoever is giving a bad vibe.
Sgt. Eblan discussed firearms, different kinds of incapacitating sprays, and how any weapon in your possession can be used against you if gotten into the wrong hands. Anything you have can be used as defense: fingernails, hairspray, keys, and a pen.
Attack a person’s centerline – eyes, throat, and groin — if you must take action, because they are made of soft tissue and are very sensitive. If you hit a person’s throat, you interrupt his oxygen flow, and hit the spine through the front. The weakest parts of a person’s body are the eyes, so throwing dirt, sand or cigarette ashes at them will disturb their vision.
“I want you to see the signs, listen to your instincts, and know you have to do something,” Sgt. Eblan says. “You need to get to other people, create distance, deny privacy, and attract attention.”
To learn more about self-defense or request another Street Smarts: Reducing Your Odds class, contact Sgt. Gary Eblan at EblanG.BPD@CityofBoston.gov.