Most women have been given some basic self-defense tips — hold your car key between your fingers when you walk to your car at night, for instance — but few women are properly equipped to defend themselves if attacked.
Christy Dove wants to change that.
Dove is a director for Damsel in Defense, a company that aims to equip, empower and educate women with tools and confidence to keep themselves safe.
“It was started by two moms in Idaho, Mindy Lin and Bethany Hughes, who were two stay-at-home moms (who) needed more income,” Dove said. “When they had gone off to college, their dads had given them these big pepper sprays, and they wanted something sassy and fun that can still protect people. So they started Damsel.”
Damsel hostesses or directors, like Dove, sell products such as pepper sprays, stun guns and door alarms, plus emergency car kits and much more. Dove also hosts parties called “Empower Hours,” during which she spends 60 minutes at a local business and teaches women about the products and how to use them.
“It’s an hour that can save a life,” she said.
The mission of the business is more than sales, she said. It instills women with the confidence they need to defend themselves.
“It’s about situational awareness,” she said. “Teaching people to get their head out of their cellphone and pay attention.”
Dove said she started with Damsel in Defense about a year and a half ago after seeing a catalogue.
“I just saw a catalogue,” she said. “I didn’t see the actual products or anything, but I looked at it having never been in direct sales or being interested in parties or anything like that. But I knew these products were things my friends needed.”
Some of the more popular products include the pepper sprays, particularly the “Hot Lil’ Hand” spray, which clips onto a fingerless, non-slip glove designed for walkers and runners.
“My friends get up and run at 5 o’clock in the morning,” Dove said. “Having one thing in their hand could prevent something from happening.”
The “Perfect Pepper” includes a disable pin, meaning the spray will be disabled if an attacker pulls it out of the woman’s hand to use on her. All the pepper sprays are 18 percent capsaicin, which Dove said is one of the hottest on the market.
She reminds women to “spray and run” not to admire their handiwork, because the spray could blow in their eyes as well.
The stun guns come in multiple sizes, including one designed to look like a point-and-shoot camera called the “Gotcha” stun gun. She teaches women that stun guns can also be effective at frightening off an attacker, because of the loud sound they make.
Dove said nationally, Damsel uses a portion of its proceeds to support local, national and international charities.
“One of the international charities is Wipe Every Tear, which is the Philippines’ sex trafficking organization, trying to rescue these people out of the sex trade,” she said. “In Cambodia, we have what’s called the Damsel House. So once they are rescued, they bring them in these homes, get them counseling, self-defense and get them back out into society. That’s a big part of the mission.”
Locally, directors can also choose an organization to support each month. Dove said this month, she and the 40 damsels working below her chose to support the Piedmont Rape Crisis Center in Winder.
“They were the choice charity this month,” she said. “So at the end of the month, Damsel will donate a portion of the sales to that. Here in Gainesville, I’m looking to find a charity that we can donate to. So it’s not all about the commission. It’s about much, much more.”