The Realm of the


Woman With An Attitude

by Galia Berry

©1996, All Rights Reserved

Three years ago, my son became an innocent victim of a vicious crime. Fortunately, he recovered fully. But my life was forever changed.

I needed a way to deal with the anger I felt that was a result of his being victimized. I desperately wanted to understand our judicial system gone haywire, which allows repeat offenders to prey upon innocents again and again.

I began visiting our courthouse, sitting for several days in various courtrooms, both juvenile and adult criminal court. I got to know which judges, state's attorneys, and public defenders were most effective, and which were inept or, typically, "burned out" due to case overload. I watched the bewilderment of victims, feeling so sure that their attackers would be punished, only to be disillusioned and devastated by lenient or non-exisiting sentencing of criminals.

I became a witness advocate, helping to guide innocent victims of violent crime through the judicial process. I made contact with the bureaucracy, ensuring that the families would know exactly when the criminal would appear before the court, whether for an indictment, arraignment, or trial. I ensured that groups of people - - friends, neighbors, businessmen - - would be sitting in that courtroom, to let the criminal, the judge, and the attorneys know that we were watching, and we weren't going to let them get away with the minimum. I had my life threatened by one perpetrator as a result of my interaction.

As a result of my involvement with the court system, I realized that the judicial system was no longer able to protect me after a crime took place, since more often than not, the criminal would be back on the street within a very short time. And the police could not realistically be there for me every moment of every day, so it would only be luck if they were around when a crime took place against my person.

I knew nothing about guns. I tried checking out books from the library which would give both pros and cons of gun ownership. My library carried firearms handbooks that had technical information that was meaningless to me, although there were plenty of "politically correct" anti-gun books there for me to read.

But somehow the idea of buying a gun out of panic didn't appeal to me; I felt that I would probably make the wrong choice of firearm, and my lack of confidence would actually be dangerous. I enrolled in an NRA Personal Protection course, and then a Basic Marksmanship course. It was not a be-all or end-all, but provided me the tools and beginning skills to make a rational choice. That choice was to purchase a gun, and maintain my shooting skills by practicing regularly.

As I became more involved with shooting, I realized just how little I knew. I decided to enroll in the "Cadillac" of shooting courses, Lethal Force Institute, given by Massad Ayoob. It was a ladies-only course, given in conjunction with Tugs 'N Thugs. It was a life-changing experience for me. There were many survivors there of rape, assault, and wife battering. Their stories will always haunt me.

I have become frustrated with many women's sense of utter powerlessness. If I learned anything at the above courses, it is that you don't have to become a victim, but first, you must refuse to become one.

Many women aren't emotionally ready to even think about handgun ownership, but they are anxious to know what their options are when it comes to being less vulnerable to the predators out there. I can't change what happened to a woman in the past, but with knowlege, awareness, the proper tools and skills, a woman can change her status from that of a "victim" into a "survivor."


more about the women's self-defense course I attended

Guns & CPR

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