Founded by Steven Dana, Protection From Abuse provides security services, safety guidance and self-defense training to help hundreds of women each year gain confidence and feel safer in their communities. Learn more about Steven and the work his organization does.
NAME & ORGANIZATION:
Steven J. Dana, Founder & CEO, Protection From Abuse
AREAS OF SPECIALTY:
Close Protection, Victim-Witness Protection, Risk Management, Threat Assessment & Threat Management, Safety Planning, Tactical Driving, and Women’s Safety and Self-Defense.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE TRAINING SPACE AND WHAT EXCITES YOU ABOUT IT?
PROTECTION FROM ABUSE guides hundreds of women each year on critical safety issues affecting their very life and health. However, there is a considerable gap between receiving guidance and someone’s ability to reliably execute upon that guidance. Therefore, it became critical for my organization to enter the training space to bridge that gap, and as all things concerning the Organization, I lead from the front. It excites me to know that a single safety tip or strategy can be the tool in a someone’s personal toolbox that might one day save their life or help them avoid victimization.
WHAT IS YOUR “WHY?” BEHIND YOUR WORK?
I abhor the dynamics and inequities of predatory violence which involves the predator having some unfair advantage over their victim. Predatory violence violates the very fabric of a civilized society and is an attack upon human dignity from which many never fully recover. I like to say: I protect people because I can — and if you can, you should.
I started my Women’s Safety TV blog, podcast and community-based safety workshops after many hours sitting in court listening to court case after court case of horrible victimization. I hear things that no human should experience. So, I created Women’s Safety TV as a means to scale my knowledge beyond my immediate client to teach as many women as possible how to be safer in their communities and intimate relationships.
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO START YOUR ORGANIZATION?
I was never enamored with protecting the wealthy or the privileged, or as I like to say – babysitting. In late 2015, I was looking for my “next chapter” when I learned of a small program run by a professional colleague on the celebrity protection circuit named Elijah Shaw from Chicago. His agency was escorting victims of domestic violence to and from court and this was the kernel of inspiration for Protection From Abuse. Thousands of women in the United States are murdered each year by intimate and former intimate partners, and many tens of thousands more are stalked, harassed, assaulted, terrorized and re-victimized. By contrast, an assassination or even an attempted assassination upon an Executive, Celebrity, High Net Worth Person, or Dignitary is exceedingly rare. So I took our entire tradecraft and suite of services typically reserved for the wealthy and privileged and made them available for free to those who needed it the most and who could least afford such services.
CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR ORGANIZATION?
Fast forward and PROTECTION FROM ABUSE is now a federal grant recipient with growing public support that provides Risk Assessment, Threat Assessment & Management, Risk Management, Safety-Planning, limited Victim-Witness Protection, and Technical Surveillance Counter Measures to victim-survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, stalking and other violent crime. And thanks to our partnership with TASER Self-Defense, we will now provide eligible survivors of abuse and violent crime with TASER Pulse devices to further empower them to take charge of their safety.
CAN YOU TELL US HOW YOUR WORK HAS MADE A DIFFERENCE FOR THOSE WHO FACE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
Each week, I receive messages from former clients thanking us for our assistance. And, although we are routinely credited with “saving lives” and “rescuing” people, I prefer to think that people rescue themselves and that we are just providing the guidance and support to do so. Since 2016, we have successfully guided and provided services to thousands of victims escaping the horror that is violence and abuse. I am proud to say that many of our former clients are the organization’s biggest promoters and many even donate to support our programs.
WHAT IS A USEFUL TIP OR LESSON IN SELF-DEFENSE TRAINING THAT YOU’D LIKE MORE INDIVIDUALS TO BE AWARE OF?
First, strong situational awareness skills are your most valuable tool in your self-defense toolbox and without it, your other tools can be rendered useless. We “win” every fight we detect and avoid. And, make no mistake about it – if you are targeted for violence, you are in a “fight” for your life or your health and you cannot afford to lose either.
Next, should we find ourselves in that “fight” we don’t want to engage in a “fair” fight. And, in my opinion, if you’re fighting only with your God-given physical capabilities (like what is taught in most “self-defense classes), you are fighting ”fair“ whether you engage in so-called “dirty” self-defense tactics or not. There is no better way to reliably increase your chances to win and survive that attack than by having an effective weapon and the training to use it. Effective weapons like firearms and TASER devices are the best equalizers of the inherent and often insurmountable physical and tactical advantages typically enjoyed by a predator.
WEAPONS CAN BE A CONTROVERSIAL TOPIC IN THE DOMESTIC ABUSE LANDSCAPE. WHY DO YOU FEEL TASER DEVICES ARE AN APPROPRIATE OPTION?
Weapons of any type are certainly problematic to introduce into an active intimate relationship experiencing the dynamics of domestic abuse. For instance, we know that the presence of a firearm in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%*. In addition, there have been numerous instances where victims have been charged with and convicted of serious crimes for defending themselves against an abuser. Accordingly, introducing any weapons of any kind into the volatile dynamics of an abusive relationship is fraught with peril. In these instances, I believe the only viable “self-defense” option is for the victim to safely leave the relationship under the guidance of professionals and with the support of various organizations, like Protection From Abuse, who provide services to assist victims to safely leave.
However, when victim-survivors leave the relationship and separate from their abuser and are no longer engaged in an intimate relationship with their abuser, they certainly shouldn’t forfeit the most basic right guaranteed to us all – the right to defend yourself from serious injury or death. And, for those survivors who remain under threat of serious violence from their abuser, TASER devices are a fantastic self-defense option because they are less-lethal, and because of their ability to cause neuromuscular incapacitation – making TASER solutions not only a “safe” option, but an effective one.
WHY DO YOU RECOMMEND TASER PRODUCTS FOR SELF-DEFENSE?
First, because a TASER device is a less-lethal weapon, it can reduce your personal exposure to potentially severe legal penalties (and the tremendous expense of defending yourself in court) if you have failed or are alleged to have failed to act within your state’s laws concerning self-defense and use-of-force. The TASER device is likely to reduce any potential criminal and civil exposure for unintended outcomes when using force.
Next, many states do not permit its citizens to carry or possess firearms outside of the home. In these states, a TASER device is the next best option because of its unique ability to induce neuromuscular incapacitation upon an attacker, in addition to the tremendous benefit of its 15-foot range. The ability to engage and neutralize an attacker at a distance is always preferable to any close-quarters engagement, where the risk of injury and death increase dramatically.
Finally, many people – women in particular, are just uncomfortable with firearms. And, at the end of the day, the best weapon is the one you will actually carry and feel confident using when needed. Lastly, lethal force and loss of life are unthinkable scenarios for many, and I believe TASER products are the best option for those who will not or cannot carry a firearm.
* Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1447915/
To learn more about Protection From Abuse, visit protectionfromabuse.org or follow on Facebook.