A defining moment is a moment in time that changes you; something that you never forget. September 11, 2001 was a defining moment in history as the Twin Towers in New York City. It was a time when people were glued to the media coverage as people in the country felt vulnerable about what could happen next.
It was also a moment of realization for Vicki Kawelmacher in which she made the decision to take her safety to the next level. She makes it very clear that she values her family, her personal well-being, and her freedom. In a series of events that included the attempted kidnapping of her 10-year-old daughter and a brutal home robbery involving her 28-year-old son, Kawelmacher further realized that everyone needs to learn how to prevent an attack or at least know when to defend oneself when it happens.
“I almost lost two of my children to evil. I’m done, I’m over it,” Kawelmacher says. As owner of the Women’s Shooting Academy in Reno, she recently founded Help Me Help Her (HMHH), a nonprofit organization meant to inspire women to live more mindful, confident lives.
Hosting its initial women’s self-defense class at Scheels on Sept. 11, HMHH educated women on how to change their behavior to be more vigilant in their surroundings and prepared for an attack. In a society where 3,000 rapes are reported on college campuses per year, one in four women are raped, and 97 percent of rapists never spend a day in jail, HMHH is committed to empowering women to never become a victim.
“We take personal safety seriously, and will do whatever it takes to make sure this doesn’t happen to someone else,” says Kawelmacher. “You are loved, valued and you are worth protecting. My goal for you is that you minimize your chances for becoming a statistic,” she says to the roomful of women.
The scary part is that it could happen to anywhere, anyone, at any time in your own home, office, or running trail. Not too long ago at the Sparks Marina in broad daylight, a man asked an office worker if he could use the phone at a real estate business. As the last one there for the day, the man ended up cornering her in the office and brutally attacking her. She was knocked unconscious and in intensive care for a week. Before she faded out completely, an off-duty police officer heard her screams, knocked down the door and saved her life.
“The safety message is a hard sell unless or until…” Kawelmacher said. That attack prompted all of the women in the Sparks Marina office to attend a self-defense seminar.
“On any given day any one of us women could be hurt,” Kawelmacher says. She stated that in many situations when an attack occurs, no one is around to protect you so you have to be able to do it for yourself.
“The greatest gift you can give those who love you is when you can prove that you can take care of yourself. If no one has ever done it before, let me be the first one to give you permission to fight for your life,” says
Kawelmacher. “The more options and choices you have, the better chance of your survival.”
In the seminar, HMHH shared the different stages of an attack, zones in which women are most likely to be victimized, awareness in one’s personal and public environment, and how a woman can use her body when that’s the only thing she has to defend herself.
Kawelmacher is also launching the “I Am Her” campaign in which HMHH is collecting stories that could help impact another woman. Kawelmacher encourages any woman who wants to share their story to reach out to the organization.
After the seminar, Lake Tahoe resident Savanah McDaniel says, “It reinforced a lot of what I already knew but the truth of it is that you have to conduct yourself in such a way that you are your own best option of getting out of a potential situation,” says attendee Savanah McDaniel. “And the bigger message is how to prevent getting in that situation.
Vicki didn’t sugarcoat things- she always came back to what are you going to do to protect yourself. Even if you feel like something like this is not for you, you still should [take a self-defense course] for everyone who loves you and cares.”
The next HMHH “Warrior in Every Woman” seminar will be held on Jan. 15 at Scheels.
For more information or to get involved with HMHH, visit www.helpmehelpher.org.