Private Investigations and Personal Security/Personal Protection?


Hi there Ms. Bates,

I work third shift by myself at a hotel, and while there are CCTVs, that's about it, in way of protection, and it takes police 20 minutes to get to our hotel. Tonight I had a guest threaten me, and I realized very quickly how vulnerable I was.

I have looked at tasers vs stun-guns vs cattle prods in the past, due to the fact that I walk to work (at 10pm and then home at 7 am#, and have had a few very large dogs charge me. Usually yelling and flailing at them have deterred them, but I had contemplated something with a bit more kick, if that ever did not work.

After the events of tonight, I'm curious as to what you might suggest. Please, feel free to recommend anything, it doesn't have to be an electrical device. I'm just not aware of anything else that would disable an attacker, be it animal or human. My only requirements are that it be easy to use, unlikely to accidentally go off #I live in worry that if I got a taser, I'd accidentally shock myself by bumping it against something! >.<), and be effective.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration,


You are certainly wise to be concerned about your safety, since you have potentially both 4 legged and 2 legged problems to worry about.  There are lots of things I'm going to suggest - you should pick more than one that will work for you.

Have you ever taken a self-defense course? In most places around the country, you can find good programs (not martial arts) that teach you how to fight against a mock assailant who is wearing protective padded gear so he can be kicked and hit full force.  For this sort of unarmed physical fighting, try to find a course that is about 20 hours long, not a single day or evening.  One such program, Impact, has a decades long history of students who proved capable of defending themselves.  Check out the chapter list at  If there is none where you live, call the closest and ask if they can recommend an instructor in your area.  A newer group is Rape Aggression Defense (RAD), which is popular on many campuses (  Another good resource is the Association for Women's Self Defense Advancement, ; they have a database of self-defense instructors around the country.  A good self-defense class will give you a lot of information and skill regarding how to deal with potentially dangerous situations successfully.  You will be amazed at what you can learn!

If tasers are legal where you live, that might be a good thing to get.  They aren't legal where I am, so I don't have direct experience, but I think they have safeties that prevent them from going off when you do not intend to use them.  They act at a distance (unlike a stun gun which must be pressed directly into someone who is already close enough to grab you).

Pepper spray is also a great deterrent.  It works on animals and people.   It is an extremely effective tool for many situations, and it is an excellent tactic to have your hand already on it, unobtrusively in your purse or pocket, whenever you are around someone who makes you the least bit uneasy, or whenever you are going to or from your car or home.  If you get one in the 5-10% OC range, that will be effective; higher is not necessarily better.

One of the great things about pepper spray is that, though it hurts and often makes people cry, choke, cough, and squeeze their eyes closed, when properly used it does no permanent damage.  Pepper spray should be sprayed directly at the face of your assailant, as you want to get it into the eyes, nose, and mouth, and onto the sensitive skin of the face.

Another important consideration with pepper spray is the size of the can.  If you have the smallest size, the one designed to fit on a keychain (the bottom is about the size of a dime), it might not have enough oomph to adequately take care of your problem, especially if more than one person needs to be sprayed.  A 2 oz can (the bottom is about the size of a quarter) is better.  It still fits easily in your hand and in most pockets, but it isn't so likely to fizzle out when you need it most.

Yet another OC question is, what type of spray pattern does your nozzle make?  Most are a fairly wide cone-shaped spray, like some of the aerosol products you use at home.  Some are called foggers, which make even wider dispersion of the material, and that might be less appropriate for use in a building.  Other options are a stream (which must be aimed more carefully than a spray, but which doesn't contaminate the surrounding area as much) and foam (which sticks to the person it is sprayed on, and also minimizes contamination of the room).

Pepper spray can be purchased at police supply stores, gun shops, and stores that specialize in safety products.  There are also a great many places available on the Internet.  You should be able to get what you need for under $25.  Some of the major brands are American Defense, BodyGuard, Cap Stun, Fox, Guardian, Punch, Sabre Defense, Def-Tec, Pepper Gard, and Federal Labs.

Of course, if you do have to spray anyone, you should report the incident to the police immediately.  Hopefully, they will be able to respond and take care of the person you sprayed before he recovers from the spray.

Also, a cell phone with 911 or your local emergency number programmed into your speed dial is also a good thing to have with you at all times.

I hope this helps you feel more confident when going to and from your job.  Good luck, and stay safe,   - Lyn  

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Lyn Bates


Are you being stalked? I can help evaluate the amount of danger you are in, and can provide very specific suggestions for increasing your safety, and for managing your situation. As a founding member and the current Vice President of AWARE (a volunteer, nonprofit organization), I have helped thousands of women learn to protect themselves from crimes ranging from minor harassment to serious assault. I am currently writing a book on safety for stalking victims. I have lectured at annual training meetings of the American Society of Law Enforcement Training, Women in Federal Law Enforcement, the International Women Police Association, the American Society of Criminology, and the American Women`s Self-Defense Association. In 1997, the American Tactical Shooting Association gave me their annual Tactical Advocate Award for teaching and writing.

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