How to be a Self-Rescuing Princess: Part 2

Greetings fellow princesses! Welcome to Part II of the Self-Rescuing Princess series. Earlier this week we learned about ways a self-rescuing princess can avoid situations a nefarious villain may use as an excuse to victimize her.

Now most of the stuff in Rule #1 is stuff your grandmother taught you. Grandma wasn’t an idiot! But modern princesses are not content to sit home and let an evil villain dictate where she can and cannot go. After all, you have a kingdom to run! So today’s post will build upon those lessons to help you be more self-aware when you go out into the big wide world.

Here are the steps to become a Self-Rescuing Princess:

  1. Avoid trouble;
  2. Beware of transition spaces;
  3. Always carry an equalizer;
  4. Take a women’s self-defense class;
  5. Practice your new skills;
  6. Overcome your fear of firearms;
  7. Lobby for permanent social change.

Today we’ll cover Step Two of becoming a self-rescuing princess:

Rule #2: Beware ‘transition spaces.’

Sometimes, a princess has no choice but to tour the kingdom. Many of us know that a safe neighborhood is, well, safe, and that a bad neighborhood is dangerous and to be on high alert. But did you know most princesses get attacked in transition spaces? These are places between one relatively safe area to another relatively safe area, where the number of people around us who can help us suddenly diminishes.

Examples of ‘transition spaces’ are stairwells, elevators, parking garages, parking lots, the edge of parks or other public venues where the crowd suddenly thins out, gas stations, subway stations, bus stops, the hallway to your apartment complex or house, and a plethora of other places where your guard may be down, but an attacker can lay in wait.

Today we’ll talk about cultivating SITUATIONAL AWARENESS, a necessary skill in avoiding attack.

*Image credit: DepositPhotos

1. Always choose a throne that enables you to watch what is going on in the larger room.

In these days of suicide bombers and armed robberies, even a ‘safe’ venue can sometimes turn deadly. Whenever you go someplace where lots of people gather, always choose a throne that will enable you to watch what is going on in the larger room.

In a restaurant, this means choosing a throne where you can continuously scan the room, preferably in a corner with your back against the wall. This doesn’t mean you have to be paranoid as you talk to your fellow princesses. Just periodically scan the room, especially the exits, including the door to the kitchen, and the cash register. Who is that person who just walked in? Do they look dodgy? When you’re talking with your fellow princesses, just keep an eye on who else comes in. Don’t just bury your nose in your cell phone and answer text messages from retainers. Be aware…

In church, sports stadium or theater, this may mean taking a seat in the balcony or outer aisle so you can move quickly if something unsafe should happen. If you can’t escape, where can you duck for cover? Be aware…

Now what do you do if you can’t find an ideal seat? Just be aware of what’s going on around you. A quick-witted princess spots trouble as it’s still unwinding. A few seconds in reaction time may mean the difference between escape, or a bad guy walking off with your pretty crown.

2. Always know where the exits are.

Sometimes a self-rescuing princess will need to beat a hasty retreat. Whenever you move into an unfamiliar space, watch for the EXIT signs. How far aware are they? What obstacles stand between you and the exit? If there’s not an exit, is there a window large enough to crawl out of? If a mass shooter comes in, or if the power suddenly goes out, or the clock strikes midnight, or a mentally unbalanced warlock comes in and starts manhandling your loyal retainers, how quickly can you beat a quick retreat?

Most deaths in public fires occur, not because people burn to death, but because people instinctively stampede towards the front entrance instead of taking one of the open and clearly marked alternative exits. And in a mass shooter situation, people who bolt for the nearest exit are far less likely to be killed than people who hunker down and take cover.

A smart princess is just like a magician. Abracadabra! She knows how to disappear…


*Image credit: deposit photos

3. Be aware when you move from a safe area into a more vulnerable one.

Most princesses know to be on high alert when we walk through a shady neighborhood. So who’s a bad guy to rob if naïve princesses don’t regularly stumble into his lair? Nefarious villains like to lay in wait in ‘transition spaces,’ those neutral spaces between one safe venue and another.

What are examples of transition spaces where you need to be on high alert? The edge of a park or other venue, where the adoring crowd begins to thin out, public transportation, moving through the lobby or hall of somebody else’s castle, stepping into an elevator, in a parking lot just before you get into your coach, and when you are fumbling with your keys to get into your castle are all high-risk areas where the bad guy knows you are distracted.

Before you enter an elevator, assess who is in the elevator first. If somebody creepy enters, consider getting out.

As you move past buildings, stay away from shadowed entrances or places a highwayman can jump out at you from around a corner or between the cars.

Don’t stare at your cell phone as you move from one safe space to another. Be alert. Scan the surroundings for other people or shadows. Are you alone? Does that person walking towards you look dodgy? Don’t fumble through your purse, searching for your shopping list. If you need to dig out your keys, do it before you move into the transition space, while you are still in a safe space, get into your castle or car immediately and lock the door! Never get into your coach and start checking your messages. Lock the door first, and don’t open it if somebody pounds on your window.

Here’s a realistic demonstration by The Pretty Loaded about how easily an attacker can grab you in a parking lot and how to avoid them.

Tip: hold one of your keys between your thumb and index finger as you move through a transitional space so you can use it as a weapon. We’ll cover more about ‘found weapons’ in Rule #3 of this series, ‘use an equalizer.’

Like seating in a restaurant, forethought can often alleviate trouble. If you park your car in a parking lot or garage, park underneath a street light or as close as you can to a safer space. If you get onto a subway train or bus during an off-peak time, move up so you are seated immediately behind the driver. The goal is to move from one safe space to another as quickly as possible.

Here’s another excellent video with live video footage of a real-life ambush of a woman walking, along with an expert analysis of how it could have been avoided.

4. Make eye contact.

In a series of interviews of criminals who committed violent crimes, time and again they admitted they profiled victims who appeared to be distracted. When somebody moves towards you, always make eye contact and let them know you see them. You can give a friendly, princess-like smile, or simply give them a polite nod (the Queen of England has this down to an art form). You don’t have to be friendly, but simply acknowledge their presence. ‘I see you…’ Criminals prefer to attack a princess who is unaware.


*image credit: Finnish Police training video, “Use The Force against attackers”

5. Tell them to ‘back off.’

What do you do when your regal gaze isn’t a deterrent? If somebody continues to move towards you in a threatening manner, listen to your instincts. Don’t slough it off or let political correctness force you to overcome that small, quiet voice which wants you to survive. Is that man eyeballing you a little too intensely? Don’t like the way that person keeps following you? Is that man who just stepped out of the bushes coming at you a little too intentionally? Is that ‘nice’ person who keeps asking lots of questions setting off the wrong kind of alarms?

In these days of political correctness, well-meaning people have taught polite princesses to silence our inner survival instincts. While it’s unfortunate to believe ‘X-race  in my kingdom are troublemakers,’ it’s even more foolish to ignore quantifiable crime statistics which indicate one particular type of person may be more inclined to commit crime than another. Always listen to your gut! Often, subconsciously, we pick up on deceptive body language that our ‘polite’ conscious mind refuses to acknowledge. Criminals often ‘interview’ a potential victim before they attack. It your gut whispers ‘danger’ it is probably right.

Who are the thugs in your kingdom? Do they look a certain way? Walk a certain way? Dress a certain way? Talk a certain way? Do they wear tattoos or a certain hairstyle or clothing? Gangs, especially, tend to display their thuggery by openly wearing certain brands or colors of clothing. It’s one thing to be fair when conducting a job interview to dispense your queenly duties or helping a retainer, another entirely to remain deliberately clueless when walking through a transition space and your stereotypical thug crashes out of the shadows and makes a beeline for your royal self.

If the person continues toward you in a manner you consider threatening, raise your hands and shout ‘back off’ in your firmest, most assertive royal voice. You are under NO obligation to ‘be nice’ to a potential assailant! Smart princesses realize that, to rule a kingdom, sometimes you just have to be mean!

This Finnish anti-rape video has been mocked as ineffective because it’s the only technique Finnish law allows (i.e., you can go to jail for carrying pepper spray), but insofar as basic technique for dealing with a garden-variety jerk, the woman does a good job of demonstrating an INITIAL response.

Back Off Video –

Yeah … if the guy’s determined that’s not going to do much. But it’s a start. For a run-of-the-mill creeper scoping out an easy target, this communicates you aren’t easy. We’ll cover what to do if he doesn’t back off in later segments of the Self-Rescuing Princess series.


Image credit: Article: Own Your Ground: SA, proxemics and personal security

6. Be aware of your Zone of Safety.

Most princesses become uncomfortable when a man moves into close proximity to our royal persona. But were you aware there’s a continuum of areas you should always be scanning? Most of us become nervous when a scary looking roughneck moves into our personal space, but zone of safety works in a continuum. Especially when you are in a space where, not only do you fear getting grabbed, but possibly a gunman, or even a drunk driver or suicide bomber, may move close enough to hurt you.

Basically you have four zones of safety:

Intimate space – this is within 1.5 feet / 1 meter of your body, about the distance of your hoop skirt. This person is a serious threat and already too close for you to proactively act.

Personal space – this is where somebody is within your royal sword reach, usually within .5 to 1.2 meters / 18″ to 4 feet of where you are standing. This person is already too close should they choose to become a threat for you to react.

Social space – this is how far people who trust one another normally stand while talking, holding court, or doing tasks together, normally within 1.2 to 3.6 meters (4-12 feet). They can close that distance quickly, but you may have a millisecond to react.

Public space – this is when you have the best opportunity to assess whether somebody is a threat. Normally within 3.6 to 7.0 meters (12-25 feet). You may have several seconds to react if a bad guy suddenly turns threatening.

Now in a crowded city, subway station, or other venue, a princess may find people pushing into her personal space which is why we often find our selves tense and physically exhausted after being forced into a crowd. Many of us have been trained to turn off that survival instinct. When commuting to work, we may not have a choice. But do not turn off that small, quiet voice. Always be aware when somebody moves towards you so you have time to react.

This tutorial on Zones of Safety is from a military point of view, but an excellent writeup on the subject, with pictures and videos.

7. Retreat!

A smart princess’ first line of defense should always be to retreat! If possible, move back into a safe space where the presence of other people will discourage the attacker. This isn’t foolproof. ‘Bystander effect’ is where people stand around, catching violence on their camera phones but not actually doing anything to help.

If they want to steal your purse or wallet, throw it several feet away from you, and when he goes to pick it up, run like hell. Even if you’re a princess with a blackbelt, nothing you carry with you is worth the risk of being seriously injured or killed.

“He that fights and runs away,
May turn and fight another day;
But he that is in battle slain,
Will never rise to fight again.”


8. Never, ever go with an attacker.

If you go with an attacker, you have a statistically higher chance of being raped, brutalized, tortured, ransomed and killed. That is why he’s trying to get you away from other people. Fight for your life while you still have a chance to summon help because, once he has you where he wants you, you are done.

*Image credit: DHS "Run, Hide, Fight"
Run, hide, fight

9. In an active shooter situation, your first line of defense is to get away!

When police analyzed the kill pattern of the Columbine School Massacre, they discovered body counts were highest where students obeyed the teacher’s advice to ‘duck and cover’ instead of evacuating the building. Since then, police departments around the country have begun to roll out ‘evacuation drills’ instead of the old duck-and-cover training. But many princesses have been brainwashed by 12 years of primary school to duck-and-cover. That advice can get a princess killed!

Since I’ve never been in an active shooter situation myself, I shall defer to the experts and suggest you watch this video by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security about what to do. It’s in many languages. Share it with your family members who might not speak English as their first language.

English – RUN. HIDE. FIGHT.® Surviving an Active Shooter Event 

Español – Correr. Esconderse. Lucha. Edición Española

Francés – Ejecutar. Hide. Lucha. Sobrevivir a Shooter Evento Activo – Francés

Portuguese – Execute. Esconder. Luta. Sobrevivendo à Shooter Evento Ativo – Português

Chinese – 运行。隐藏。战斗。幸存的主动射击事件 – 中国

Vietnamese – Chạy. Ẩn. Chiến đấu. Sống sót Active Shooter Sự kiện – Việt

Self-Rescuing Princess Summary: Part 2 – Beware Transition Spaces

It isn’t easy being a self-rescuing princess. In Part I, we learned how the advice our grandmothers always gave us to avoid trouble is a good first-step to becoming a self-rescuing princess. Today we learned to take it to the next step. We’ve gone from a prim and proper princess, cautious to go out into the whole wide world, to a self-rescuing princess who is aware of the risks and proactive about recognizing a potential threat when she tours her kingdom.

Watch the videos and articles I linked to. Really. You’ll learn some really cool stuff. Learn to spot the bad guys coming and get a rough idea about how you can extricate yourself from a situation before it turns bad.

Stay tuned for Part Three of the Self-Rescuing Princess series: Equalizers

So what do you do if the situation does turn bad? And the  nefarious villain is bigger, stronger, or scarier than you are? Come back in a few days when I post Part III of the Self-Rescuing Princess Series: Always Carry an Equalizer.

  1. Avoid trouble;
  2. Beware of transition spaces;
  3. Always carry an equalizer;
  4. Take a women’s self-defense class;
  5. Practice your new skills;
  6. Overcome your fear of firearms;
  7. Lobby for permanent social change.

Be epic!
Anna Erishkigal


P.S. – read about my latest self-rescuing princess, Eisa McCarthy, a sixteen-year-old Muslim-American girl trapped in post-apocalyptic, ISIS-controlled Washington DC. Inspired by the real-life Yazidi and Kurdish women in Iraq and Syria. Watch her go from burqa to soldier.





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*All images self-taken photos, from U.S. government websites, or adapted from a licensed image purchased from DepositPhotos. Full list of image credit licensing available upon a written request sent via USPS certified mail with a postage prepaid return envelope. No emails please … my spam filter eats it.