Keeping Our Daughters Safe: Six Questions for Sally Cadoux of Athena Personal Safety

Sally Cadoux, the founder of Athena Personal Safety in Westport, CT, has one of those handshakes that says: “I’m a super friendly person, but I could throw a mean strike to the carotid if I had to.” She’s warm and engaging and on a mission to provide perhaps the most critical aspect of wellness there is: personal safety.

EZ: Can you explain how personal safety fits into the overall definition of wellness?

SC: Personal safety awareness impacts and enhances the quality of our wellbeing in every way, from our confidence to our productivity, self-esteem, courage and wisdom.

Athena Personal Safety aims to redefine “wellness” by giving women concrete and practical Personal Safety Training. Our programs contain integral components that are vital to our overall wellness; self defense techniques, breath control, and most importantly, mind-body awareness. We provide a comprehensive program that not only enhances life-saving skills, but also the ability to set healthier boundaries, manage stress, make decisions, gain confidence and take charge of conflicts when personal safety is at risk.

EZ: Who is your target audience and why?

SC: Although violence and abuse can happen to anyone at any time, women are at far greater risk of experiencing sexual assault in their lifetime. The Athena Warrior training educates and inspires women of all ages to live courageously by being present, socially conscious, and knowledgeable about self-care. By preparing women with the strength, techniques and confidence they need to become resilient and live fearlessly, they will be more apt to take responsibility for themselves and others around them.

EZ: What’s your background and how did you come to create Athena Personal Safety?

SC: I’m a Self Defense Instructor, Martial Artist, Yoga Practitioner and Fitness Trainer with more than 20 years of experience. I launched Athena Personal Safety to empower women of all ages to embrace their well being through personal safety education. I devoted the last several years to developing a modern-day approach to personal safety, supported by awareness and prevention strategies. Athena’s method integrates “The Power of Presence” in our everyday lives to help identify, assess, reduce, and react to today’s threats. I deeply understand the challenges and joys that come with living genuinely and with purpose. While balancing the demands of managing a family of eight, my home and my husband’s architecture firm, I found little time for my own self-care. I noticed I had a decreased attention span, general malaise and a short fuse. So I decided it was time to reset my own path to health and wellness and made it a personal and professional goal to establish myself as a role model for women today.

Moving through our daily tasks with little attention to or notice of what’s happening around us create a greater chance of risk or harm to yourself and those you love. Once you acknowledge awareness and the power of presence, you naturally experience increased self-confidence, which in turn reduces your risk of being victimized.

EZ: What are the most critical takeaways you want your clients to leave your course with?

SC: I want them to:

  • Set solid boundaries
  • Trust their intuition
  • Gain strength and confidence
  • Learn how to prevent and become more aware of dangerous situations
  • Learn stress management methods
  • Increase their self empowerment and leadership skills
  • Learn self defense techniques

EZ: It’s a terrible question to have to ask, but one we now face: Do you train people in how to respond when there is an active shooter? Are there guidelines or tips that can maximize your chance of surviving an incident like the recent events in Orlando and Turkey?

SC: The recent tragic events in Orlando and Turkey are unbearably difficult to translate. My best response to these appalling confrontations is to remind everyone that being aware and being prepared can support your survival outcome. Although the victims could not have foreseen the threats, there are personal safety observations that can account for saving lives. The Athena Mantra is “if it doesn’t feel right, it’s not right.” It’s about trusting your intuition and acting accordingly. Although no one knows what the victims of these tragedies felt or thought up until the horrendous moment, perhaps doing exactly that saved someone. My favorite awareness tip is very simple and should be practiced every day: Upon entering any establishment, look for the exits, count them, make a mental note of where you are in relation to them. In the event of an emergency or threat, you can quickly assess which outlet will get you to safety the quickest. There are numerous tragedies where people ran for the door that they entered through, not realizing there were other, safer means to exit. Situational and environmental awareness is about being present and mindful.

EZ: Do you address on-campus safety, and if so, what are the biggest issues related to personal safety for college students?

SC: Absolutely! Our program for young women transitioning to new living environments is based on Prevention and Confidence building. It introduces core principles of personal safety and effective self-defense techniques. We empower students to take better care of themselves, to set solid boundaries, to listen and trust their intuition, and successfully respond to bystanders at risk.

College students tend to be overwhelmed with their new living environment, new freedoms, new friends, and experimenting with substances that impair judgment. In essence they’re moving at warp speed. They let their guard down, so to speak, and unknowingly find themselves in unsavory or risky situations. The “it won’t happen to me” mentality is, unfortunately, the common thread in stories of survivors of sexual and verbal abuse on campus. Through the Athena training, we impart the “Sisterhood of Safety,” advocating safety, support, inclusion, non-judgment action and awareness. We want our clients to live courageously, become resilient and live fearlessly.

CoreMotion will be partnering with Sally on a series of workshops aimed at empowering young women in transition (for example, those going off to college, the Peace Corps, a job in a new city or boarding school), to stay safe. Call (203) 292-5073 for more information or email me at elise@coremotionstudios.com.

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