Two West Michigan women take steps to help others with self-defense

Posted at 10:04 AM, May 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-12 10:36:06-04

GRAND HAVEN, Mich.-- Two West Michigan women have made it their mission to empower other women by taking control of their self-defense.

From concealed-carry purses to striking tools, Damsel in Defense aims to equip and educate women with the tools they need to stay safe. The faith-based company launched in 2011.

Ann Parsons is what's called a "Damsel Pro." But she's more than a sales rep, she's a survivor.

"During my childhood I was a victim of an assault, and that prompted me to want to empower other women," Parsons explained.

While meeting with community leaders, neighborhood watch groups, even Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, she's putting the power back into the hands of victims with tools ranging from auto emergency road kits, mobile alarms and concealed-carry purses. “They all have double-zip so you can unzip if you're left- or right-handed. It has a holster that’s removable and Velcros inside,” she explained.

"In the last five years, especially, I've seen a huge increase in the number of women seeking classes in training," said Cat, a certified firearms instructor and owner of Applied Firearms Defense Skills. She is in a unique position. She teaches alongside her daughter, Whitney Timmer, out of Silver Bullet Firearms in Wyoming.

"At this club, it’s all about rights with responsibility.”

Their classes are open to everyone but feel the all-female courses are very popular.

“I think it’s a big deal to have females seeing other females in this kind of, usually a mans world, and that, yes, you can do it," Timmer said.

"Coming into a gun club has to be a scary experience," explained Cat.

"They [women] think they’ll be talked down to and patronized. But at this club, that’s not going to happen.”

Friends Sara Dipadova and Jennifer Miller have taken Cat and Whitney's classes. “I wanted more of a women's perspective," said Dipadova.

“We’re a little more aware of whats going on around us,” Miller added.

The friends say that as mothers they also wanted to be able to protect their families. It's that urge to protect that got Cat started in shooting classes years ago.

“We were robbed at my home, and, as a single mom at the time, that was scary," Cat explained. "I wasn’t sure, as in, what do I want to do, continue to be scared and a victim or do something about it? I chose the latter.”

All of these women, each armed with their own reasons of self-protection, while working to encourage others to be proactive about their safety too.