I wanted to share something with you.
I got moved into temporary accommodation recently. The temporary flat is in a rotten location. My parking space is a long walk to the front door, which involves me walking through a secluded, dark alleyway and then through a dark car park. There are regularly groups of young men hanging around, smoking drugs etc. It's got quite a threatening feel to it and generally not a nice area.
One night recently, I parked up and started my walk to my front door at around 10pm. When I turned to go down the alleyway, there was a group of 5 men, all with their hoods up, just hanging around there. They all stopped whatever they were doing to look at me as I approached. Obviously, it immediately felt like a threatening situation, but I didn't have much choice but to pass if I wanted to go home. When I got to them, one of them said to me "alright, love?" Which I ignored. He then asked me for the time. I thought back to your women's self defense class on "normal male behaviour" so as to identify "abnormal male behaviour". I found it difficult to believe that not one of the group had a phone between them to tell the time, so I found this very uncomfortable and I was alert immediately to the fact they wanted me to either get my phone out to tell them the time or take my eyes off them to look at a watch.
I wanted to let you know that what you had said to me was going through my mind. I was thinking about what you told me about "not looking like a victim" with the way you hold yourself and display your behaviour. I stood tall, looked each of them in the eye in turn and spoke loudly and confidently. I even put on my toughest Essex accent!! I replied "nah mate. I don't" . Thankfully, nothing happened and I got to my flat safely.
I wanted to let you know that had I not come to your class, I definitely would not have acted that way. I would have probably been compliant and looked in my bag for my phone to give him the time or quietly put my head down, not looked at any of them and hoped nothing bad happened - all of which I now know from your class to be the worst things I could do.
Perhaps these men never posed any risk to me at all and perhaps the "threatening" feel was completely imagined on my part - maybe they genuinely did want the time???!! Quite honestly, I'm very glad I didn't have to find out! All I know is that the training you gave me during the women's self defense classes made me feel confident enough to look each of those men in the eye and confident enough to decline their request for me to divert my attention away from them on to a phone or watch.
I just wanted to say the biggest thank you and the rest of the Stay Safe UK team for that for giving me that confidence.