Cen­tre­ville mom aims to em­power, ed­u­cate women

Record Observer - - News - By HAN­NAH COMBS hcombs@kibay­times.com

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.

HAN­NAH COMBS

Left, Abi­gail Bran­non-Hor­ney with her mom and Dam­sel in De­fense con­sul­tant Bianca Bran­non-Hor­ney.

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