Pepper Spray - Bad or Good?


After three years or so of being in school, I considered that my senior year I should have pepper spray with me for my own protection. Why I waited so long or why I didn’t buy one freshman year you may ask? I didn’t think that I needed one. Let me explain.

The summer before freshman year, my father sat down with and told me that I should have some sort of “weapon” to protect myself. He offered buying a taser or a small pocket knife. I understood why he wanted me to have something to protect myself – unfortunately a surprising amount of girls experience some sort of sexual harassment while being in school and since I am five hours away he is scared he wouldn't make it to campus in time to help me. But my own naïve mind said that shouldn’t matter to me because those stories usually happen at parties and I don’t party. So I pushed it off and just used the old techniques that I was taught in school: the buddy system, if you’re walking alone at night call someone, or hold your key in your pocket so that way if someone tries to jump you, then you can attack.

Sophomore year was the same thing. Since I lived in the suites, I felt like I was super protected with their security system. Sophomore year I did start going out more and if I was going to drink I monitored my drinking, and made sure that I got the cup myself – just in case someone tried to drug me. I made sure that I was never alone and I made sure that I walked back home with someone I knew. But junior year something happened – I educated myself about what sexual assault really is. Now let me clarify: I knew girls don’t just get raped at parties, but I felt like most of the campus reports happen at parties or they were under the influence of something. That doesn’t make their assault anymore real, but it did narrow my perspective of rape and college (I was naïve).

Junior year, I started to intern at the Public Defender’s office and I started to hear all the cases that were getting pulled. A lot of the rape crimes were happening in parking lots, in their own rooms and then when a good friend of mine got raped herself (I will spare the details since she did not give me permission to tell her story), I decided that I needed to protect myself. So the summer of senior year, I decided it would be a smart idea to buy a pepper spray. I was at my local post office and saw it hanging behind the counter. I asked the clerk for it and before she rang up my spray, she went off on a whole lecture on how to keep a pepper spray on your person. But something that stuck with me is that if I were to ever get pulled over. I am to let the police officer know I have a pepper spray and hand it to him until his business is done with me. I was in shock because something that was meant to be for my protection is actually giving me more trouble to purchase and keep.

It wasn’t after my purchase that I noticed how much trouble it was to keep one. I put the pepper spray on my key chain – most for those to see it and not bother me. But if I were to go into stores, many would ask if I hide it or when I got to work up here in the courthouse, I have to hand over my keys until my shift is over because apparently it will cause harm to someone. I was getting upset because something that was meant to protect me was causing me more problems than I needed. Now, I just leave it at home or sometimes I will just leave it in my book bag or sometimes my purse. But don’t get me wrong, I truly believe that all girls should have a pepper spray or something to protect them. Unfortunately, we live in a world where us girls have to defend ourselves rather than teach men how to not hurt girls. But until that changes, be prepared ladies!