Training Success Story: Quick Decisions In A College Dorm


This past semester (Spring 2018) I had the pleasure of teaching Women’s Self Defense to approximately 80 female students at The Ohio State University.  During their credited class, they learned basic personal defense skills, both mental/psychological and physical techniques.  Quite a few of these young ladies had little to no experience in learning anything of this nature, so I started their training at a very basic level.

I hope that the information I’m giving my students is being received and will stick with them.  I also hope that my students never find themselves in a situation where their personal defense skills are needed, but I know that is most likely not going to be the case.  They may not find themselves in a full blown five-alarm life threatening situation, but a more likely scenario is that they will be forced into using basic personal defense decision making skills that could keep a bad situation from turning into a tragic one.

This just happened to be the case with one of my students. Spring semester had ended, and summer break had begun for most. In this case, there were a handful of students who had remained in one of the school dormitories, either not exiting for summer yet or had enrolled in summer semester classes and were staying.  My student was one of the ones who had remained in the dorm.

As she exited her room and entered the hallway, she encountered a squatter who had made his way into the dorm sometime overnight.  Her immediate reaction was to not engage with the squatter, find the rest of the students who were in the area, get them out of the building and call for assistance.  The end result was the squatter taking off with some of their belongings and cash, and the young ladies filing a police report.

My student did the absolute right thing, even though some of you may think this was a pretty benign situation.  But think about this: Was the squatter a sexual deviant wanting to do harm to the female students?  Was he a drug addict and not in his right mind?  Was he in a psychological state where his needs would override the safety of others? Or was he just looking for a place to crash for the night – illegally.  The answer is that it really doesn’t matter. With any of those things being the possibility, my student did the right thing in getting out of the building and making sure others in immediate danger were also safe.

Did she have to physically fight anyone? Did she need to grab an improvised weapon and use it?  No.  The situation hadn’t gotten to that extreme, but it was still a critical thinking moment where steps were needed to ensure a safe outcome for all involved.  She even admitted that she wouldn’t have recognized the situation for what it could be, and wouldn’t have had the courage to get others out of the situation had she even recognized the potential danger had she not been taught to observe her surroundings and take the appropriate action.  She used to be a very trusting person. She may have thought nothing about seeing someone in her hallway who didn’t belong there. She may have decided to engage in conversation with that person. And she may have found herself in a decidedly different scenario where physical skills would have been necessary.  All speculation, but the old adage rings true – better safe than sorry.

I’m sure there are people out there who are thinking I’m cold and uncaring for not taking the side of the squatter who just wanted a place to sleep.  And I really don’t care. That person was trespassing, and there was no way for the females in the dorm – IN THEIR HOME – to know whether this trespasser could become a physical threat.  Bottom line is that he didn’t belong there and he shouldn’t have been there.  In the end, all he was able to get away with was personal belongings (due to the quick thinking of my student), but that makes him a thief and a deviant.  Where it could have led no one knows, but I for one am glad the females didn’t stick around to find out.

Stay Safe –


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