With all the other worries and planning involved, concerning yourself about safety while you travel is always important.
I remember stepping out of the airport in Italy–the country known for its artistic achievements on canvas, in sculptures, and in the kitchen–and with all my excitement and optimism, I was suddenly struck with fear. I was the picture of vulnerability: a foreign traveler, alone, attempting to maneuver the cobblestone walkways with my huge suitcase and arms full of bags, and almost definitely lost. Instinctively, I became more vigilant, held my belongings a little closer, a decidedly wore an expression that I was in complete control. And I was secretly thankful that I wore the silly money pouches–those flesh-toned fanny packs that you wear under your shirt. Exactly what you want to be caught wearing in the fashion capitol of the world.
When I went of to college, my dad encouraged me to get a rape whistle and carry mace. But you can’t travel with mace I’m pretty sure. I doubt your taser will make it through security either!
The sad fact is that it’s a dangerous world to be disabled. Increasingly so!! “People with disabilities are 50 percent more likely to be victims of violent crime, the U.S. Department of Justice reports.” Attackers go after those who appear to be easy targets. And with the economy, both the US and the UK have experienced increased violence against the disabled for the benefits they receive from the government. The media has increased coverage of people taking advantage of the system fraudulently, and the public has taken to the streets to harass the people who truly deserve their benefits.
It’s unfair, and with all the current talk about rape culture, I can’t help to draw a parallel; it seams like you are “asking for it” if you have a disability and chose go out in public. In fact, disabled victims often don’t report their attacks to the police, just like rape victims. So it’s up to you to ensure your own safety. But it’s not like you can go to any old self-defense or martial arts class–most instructors don’t know how to teach disabled pupils.
Not Me – “A non-profit organization with a mission to promote, advance, and unify self-defense education and training for at-risk populations”. The founder, Erik, is paraplegic and hold’s a second degree black belt. He does a lot in the online community and teaches people how to not be victims (which is where the name “Not Me” came from: I will not be a victim). Let Erik show you just how powerful you can be, even in a chair, in this news clip. Check out his essay on the topic and his blog to learn how to keep safe. I never dreamed that people would make fake profiles on Facebook to win the trust of disabled Facebook users–if it weren’t for his blog I still wouldn’t know about that dangerous trend. Not Me has in-person instruction in Massachusetts.
There’s also International Disabled Self Defense Association is a nonprofit started in 1996. They have an online store where you can purchase DVDs to learn self defense for a broad range of disabilities. Instructors can also purchase DVDs to learn how to adapt their material for disabled pupils. They also have a few physical locations (Maryland, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Illinois) BUT I can’t be certain that this site has been updated since 2003, when their copyright expired… I did some detective work and they do have a YouTube channel with a load of videos that could be a good place to start, but they haven’t uploaded anything in 2 years. So I think they are probably a good resource for those who want to learn a bit at home before deciding if they’d like to find an instructor in the real world.
In Los Angeles, disabled women and elderly can attend defense workshops at Peace Over Violence.
As you can see, this is a very disappointing turnout for resources. You can find plenty of video’s on YouTube of people who have found ways to teach self defense/martial arts to all sorts of disabilities. But it seems like they all fizzle out or serve a limited area. What you have to do is find a studio or instructor that is willing to work with you an experiment to find out what will work for you.
In our society, you are always “asking for it”. But you get to choose what “it” is! If you choose to ask an instructor to help you find a way to defend yourself, you are choosing not to be a victim. You are choosing “not me”.