Damsels in Defense
Damsel in Defense is modeled after the in-home kitchen and jewelry parties that have been popular for years, but the products pack a punch. With the mission of equipping, empowering and educating women, Damsel Pros host parties all over the country to sell products including stun guns, pepper sprays, alarms and more.
Damsel in Defense was started in late 2011 by two Idaho women who had been sexually assaulted. “They didn’t want to carry guns because they had kids, but there really wasn’t much out there,” says Damsel Pro Sherry Iverson. But the need certainly exists: One in five women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime, and the odds are four times higher for college-age girls.
Pepper sprays start at $10 and the button glows in the dark, making it easy to find on a nightstand or in a purse. Some fit onto a keychain. The spray itself is dyed, so the person who is sprayed can be identified by police under an ultraviolet light. Stun guns range in price from $40 to $60 and come in pink and black, carrying anywhere from 950,000 to 7.5 million volts. The Hot Lips is shaped like a lipstick, while Call Me Crazy looks like a cell phone; the rectangular Tiny Takedown and Pack A Punch fit nicely into one’s hand. All have built-in flashlights.
Kelsey Burke, 19, bought a stun gun, pepper spray and kubotan at a recent party. “I don’t know self-defense, and this is a quick and easy way to defend yourself,” she says. Anna Champe, a mother of two, also bought a stun gun. “This isn’t like, ‘This is gonna sting a little.’ You’re in big trouble, Bub,” Champe says. “I’m a little worried about the increase in general overall assaults in our neighborhoods. I’d never given it a second thought before, but I’ve had my house and car broken into recently.”
Megan Frost, who sells Damsel in Defense products, works in the court system and is all too aware of rising crime statistics. “I’m not opposed to people carrying concealed weapons, but I don’t feel like I personally want that responsibility,” Frost says. “Here’s something I can carry that’s non-lethal, and it’s not going to hurt kids like a gun would.”
Parties also include plenty of safety tips, including not talking on your cell phone or texting while walking through a parking lot. “We’re really oblivious — we think we’re paying attention, but we’re not,” says Iverson. “You have your arms full of bags and a purse and kids, and you get caught off guard.”
Damsel Pro Vieva Lathrop recently did a party at the hospital where her 22-year-old daughter works, and was heartened when 45 people showed up. “I just love how women are feeling empowered by this,” Lathrop says.
People need to be 18 or older to carry pepper spray or a stun gun, or age 16 with written parent permission, and it is a felony to use them on someone in a non-emergency situation. Damsel in Defense donates part of its profits to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.
Frost loves knowing that she’s reclaimed her power. “I refuse to not enjoy life and do the things I love to do because of fear,” she says. “I’m not into vigilante justice, but as a woman with young kids, I feel like a target. We’ve been in parking lots and been approached by some shady characters, and now I feel a little better protected. My goal is that the next time a person goes to pickpocket or mug someone, that person turns around and stun-guns them or pepper sprays them. They’ll think twice about victimizing people.” •