A group of dedicated VPD female officers have been increasing women’s safety and giving back to the community, as part of the VPD Women’s Personal Safety Team since 2013. Their goal is to educate, inspire, and empower women to take ownership of their personal safety.
Their workshops teach tactics designed to be easily learned and remembered by women with no prior training in case they are ever faced with a situation of unavoidable violence.
Trigger warning: This video contains content that some may find disturbing or upsetting. Viewer discretion is advised.
Upcoming 2022 workshops
Workshops begin at 6:00 p.m. and generally last two hours. They are open to women, minimum age of 16 years.
Mount Pleasant Community Centre
Personal safety tips
- Awareness is your first line for personal safety, which begins long before any actual physical contact. Be aware of yourself, your surroundings.
An attacker’s primary strategy is to use the advantage of surprise. They are adept at choosing targets who appear to be unaware of what is going on around them. If you are aware of your surroundings, you can spot suspicious circumstances or people. It provides time for you to plan your reaction.
- Intuition or “gut instinct” is something everyone has experienced – the feeling that something isn’t quite right, but you’re not sure why. It’s important to pay attention and trust this feeling. Use it to your full advantage and avoid any person or situation which does not “feel” safe. Your instincts are probably right.
- Prevention is taking measures to make yourself less of a target. We look both ways before crossing the street because we don’t blindly trust that the drivers will see us and stop. We take ownership of our personal safety by using tactics that will keep us safe, much like ensuring the road way is clear of threats before stepping off the curb. When it comes to avoiding or minimizing situations where we may be subjected to violence, we need to learn and employ tactics that will help keep us safe.
- Fighting back may be necessary in situations of unavoidable violence. You have the right to fight back as hard as necessary to protect yourself and get away safely.The important thing about fighting back is that it must be done effectively. Struggling and scratching is fighting back, but it won’t be effective in a violent encounter where the assailant’s primary focus is to seriously hurt you or worse.
Check out your local community resources for courses in self-protection.
“The VPD Women’s Personal Safety Team team did a phenomenal job with their workshop, particularly in light of the added challenge of having to deliver such hands-on material in a virtual setting. As someone who has taken a variety of self-defence courses in the past, I can attest that this one stood out from the first minute.
Most other workshops often present techniques in such a complex manner that in a real-life fight-or-flight situation the instructions would be nearly impossible to reproduce. The Vancouver Police Department’s workshop, however, focused on a few effective escape mechanisms with easy-to-remember names that could certainly be recalled should a situation ever call for them.
Another piece that was brilliantly incorporated into this workshop was how to recognize the signs of domestic violence early on in a relationship so women can safely remove themselves from this kind of relationship before the verbal and physical abuse begins. For that component alone, I wish all women had the chance to take this workshop and stop this issue in its tracks.
The ‘mindset’ component was yet another critical element that is missing in most other workshops. Knowing that you’re legally allowed to injure the attacker, and the boundaries related to that, is important information that women do not have the luxury to think about when the need arises. The VDP also opened our eyes to a few additional dangers and how to navigate these (e.g. by indicating where the cameras in taxis are located and how to ask for them to be visible at all times). The fact that the officers provided exact sentences that can be said in threatening situations is yet another aspect that should not be underestimated.
As a woman, I cannot stress enough how valuable this workshop is. Despite knowing that this team has limitations in its capacity, I wish that millions of women will have the chance to learn these lessons to live a little safer, until society has caught on with teaching men how to respect boundaries and women.”