CINCINNATI – Confidence. When it comes to self-defense, women ought to have it.
There’s also no one-size-fits-all solution to defending against an attack. A recent workshop, specifically targeted to female small-business owners in the Tri-State, proved just that. And the timing? Likely never better, said Tom Lunney, founder of American Small Business Centers in Cincinnati.
In light of recent, violent attacks across the country and around the world, more and more women are asking about ways to protect themselves, Lunney said. Many times, he added, they feel powerless or think they lack the necessary skills.
About 85 percent of the businesses ASBC aids – it provides training, education, certifications and more – are female-owned, another incentive for Lunney, who helped host the workshop this week at Red212, a brand agency in Madisonville. The event, pegged with the hashtag #beaninja, was an admittedly unique approach to the topic. Three different women. all business owners themselves, presented both non-lethal and lethal approaches, proving that there are options available, he said.
“The folks I work with and the women I talk to, they’re flat-out fearful,” Lunney said. “They want to know, ‘What can I do, what should I do to protect myself?’ There are so many very simple things you can do. This is just another tool in their toolbox.
“I equate it to having a spare tire,” he added. “They may never use it, but nobody will ever buy a car without one. Self-defense is more important than that, but it’s another way to think about it.”
Beth Bullock, one of those presenters, knows firsthand the role a lack of confidence can play. She was in an abusive marriage, and she attributes her struggles early in life to low self-esteem.
Not anymore. In February, she heard about a direct-sales company called Damsel in Defense, which markets a number of self-defense tools like stun guns, pepper sprays, even concealed carry handbags. She immediately jumped on board as an independent consultant.
Her message: education and empowerment.
“Everyone talks about concealed carry and carrying a gun, but that’s not an option for everybody,” Bullock said. “Even for those of us who do carry, we’re not going to be carrying all the time, everywhere we go; it’s not realistic. Whereas, with a stun gun or pepper spray, I can have that in my hand, I can have that on me all the time. And they’re very powerful. If I can equip somebody even with a pepper spray and teach them how to be confident and how to be prepared should something happen, that’s the whole basis.
“If I would have been more confident as a teenager, I would not have made the decisions I have made,” she added. “And there’s a lot of confidence-building that goes along with this, which, to me, is priceless.”
The other two workshop presenters, Jennifer McNutt and Davina Eccard, also had personal stories to share. Both left respective professional careers to start their own self-defense-inspired businesses. McNutt is a former IT project manager, and Eccard spent years in corporate America, including stints at Procter & Gamble, IBM and HP.
McNutt, today owner of Jennifer McNutt Training, now teaches private and group fitness classes like boxing, MMA and self-defense. While sessions are fitness based, they’re also real-world inspired.
She always had an interest in self-defense; as a kid, she said, she was bullied. She started training in her basement alone, but when she started formal instruction around 2009, she saw an aptitude, and two years ago decided to take the leap into teaching full-time.
“I don’t necessarily do this for the money; I left a very good job because this is a passion of mine,” McNutt said. “My main goal is for women to feel secure. They don’t have to be a victim, and, in a worst-case scenario, here are some tools they can use. If I fall down and I’m being attacked, how can I get up in a way that keeps me safe?
“This (workshop) is something that’s always needed,” she added. “If more events like this happen for women and/or children, there’s nothing but positive that can come from that.”
Eccard, who took to the podium last – with an opposite-end-of-the-spectrum option – co-owns Tactical Intelligence Group and recently opened the Tactical Training Center, an outdoor shooting facility in Cleves. The West Side site, while still under development, features six ranges and roughly 25 shooting stations. It’s also one of only five or so such facilities across the country open to civilians, she said.
TTC offers training courses for all levels, but classes are also self-defense based and carried out in a real-world practice environment – like live-actor training using non-lethal rounds. Eccard said her interest in the field spiked after moving to Over-the-Rhine in 2006, before its recent revitalization. She immediately wanted to learn everything she could about home defense, but, as a woman, she faced hurdles. She didn’t want to deter others in her position.
“The environment as a whole, and the industry itself, is not very welcoming to newcomers, particularly as a woman,” she said. “I felt like people talked down to me when I’d go into a gun shop, even when I had done my research. Although we are not a retail shop, we sell the training and services related to that.
“I just think it’s something vitally important,” she added. “There’s actually significantly more options for women today. It’s really nice to present a full spectrum, because you should never sell yourself short when it comes to defensive skills.”
Several dozen women attended the workshop event, and Lunny is planning a repeat, he said, possibly in October. He urged all who attended this go-round to “be confident.”
“You’re not helpless. You’re not a victim,” he said. “You can’t be in business and be a wuss. Take control. Take action. You all have a choice.”
Follow Liz Engel on Twitter: @_LizEngel