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by Michele Shackelford, staff writer
While this show is fiction, the statistic is real. According to RAINN.org (Rape Abuse and Incest National Network) a woman in America is sexually assaulted at least once every two and a half minutes: 200,780 in 2004-05. One in six American women are victims of sexual assault; 44 percent of them are under age 18 and 80 percent are under 30.

Add these to domestic abuse statistics: one woman is battered every 15 seconds, and domestic violence is the number one cause of emergency room visits by women.

These statistics are making women more aware of the need to protect themselves from attackers and generating a growing self-defense market providing protective devises to women. These include such useful gadgets as stun guns, tear gas, pepper spray, and personal alarms. While some of these products are standards and have proven to be very effective, there are some new and useful variations.

A stun gun is a hand-held, battery-powered device that is used to electrically shock an attacker. It sends an electric charge through two prongs that must be in direct contact with an attacker.

According to Milestone Safety Products, which manufactures the devices, the shock is disabling, causing an attacker to loose control of muscle movement and balance, and to become disorientated. The entire process takes only a few seconds and can be very painful; it can also disable an attacker for up to 30 minutes, long enough to run away, get help, or call the police.

Tear gas and pepper spray are two other forms of self- defense products that comes in various shapes and sizes, but they are not legal in Hawai‘i. They may come in a simple packaging as a can, or they may be shaped as lipstick to fit innocuously in a purse.

Personal alarms are a small devices that emit a loud, siren-like sound when activated. They can be easily held, attached to a belt, or carried in a purse and are usually activated by simply pushing a button or pulling a string.

In addition to calling public attention, personal alarms startle an attacker, and giving potential victims time to run away. And they cannot be used against the victim, which is an advantage over the others devices.


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