Centreville mom aims to empower, educate women
CENTREVILLE — Centreville resident and mom Bianca Brannon-Horney is on a mission to educate and empower women through her new business, Damsel in Defense. Brannon Horney has a daughter, Abigail, who is a senior at Kent Island High School and will be attending college next fall. Brannon-Horney said when she heard yet another story six months ago on the news about campus rape she knew she needed to do something to educate and prepare her daughter before sending her away to college.
“I wanted to make sure my daughter was equipped in every way,” said Brannon-Horney. “Being her role model, I also realized I needed to set the example and take responsibility for my own safety as well.”
Brannon-Horney decided to contact her aunt, Cheryl Lacy, a representative for Damsel in Defense and find out what tools were available to equip herself and her daughter.
Damsel in Defense is a nationally known company founded in 2011 by Mindy Lin and Bethany Hughes. Both women were victims of sexual abuse, one as a child and one as an adult. When the two women met at a moms group and realized they had similar experiences, they decided to join efforts and make a difference by equipping, empowering and educating women to reduce their risk of becoming victims of violence.
Since joining the company, Brannon-Horney has embraced Damsel in Defense’s philosophy, “Equip. Empower. Educate.” The products she carries include stun guns, pepper spray, batons and emergency flashlights complete with alarm and a window punch. Those tools are what Brannon-Horney likes to call the “muscle of the company.” Just as importantly, though, she says is the company’s program, Safe Hearts. Safe Hearts is a series of storybooks and educational materials gives parents and guardians an opportunity to have “essential kid-versations” with their children about “stranger danger” and sexual predators.
Brannon-Horney said she believes it is important to have these discussions with children and other women. Often, she said, women look after the needs of others, before thinking to take care of themselves. When talking to prospective customers, Brannon-Horney said she asks them are they prepared to defend themselves, most of the time she said the answer is no.
Statistically, Brannon-Horney said, women believe they can talk their way out of a situation, “Women who used non violent methods of resistance such as begging and pleading were still raped 96 percent of the time. Women who yelled and screamed were raped 50 persent of the time.”
The odds increase dramatically when a woman is armed with some type of defense, either a method of self-defense or escape, or utilizing a weapon, she said.
“Women who ran or used physical resistance were raped 15 percent of the time. Women who used a weapon were raped only 1 percent of the time.”
Brannon-Horney said she would like to encourage women not to be an easy victim for a would be attacker, “Don’t be a Damsel in Distress, be a Damsel in Defense.” About Damsel in Defense Damsel in Defense has a team of over 17,000 representatives across they country. They contribute to organizations including R.A.I.N.N., Wipe Every Tear, The Women’s and Children’s Alliance and have established their own “Damsel House” for women and children who have been victims of sex trafficking. The Boise, Idaho based company just received the “Rising Star Award” out of all start-up Direct Sales Companies and may be found online at www. damselindefense.net.
Left, Abigail Brannon-Horney with her mom and Damsel in Defense consultant Bianca Brannon-Horney.