On a mission for personal safety

Michelle Lloyd Eastridge

A scary situation in college ignited Melissa Blackmon’s passion for personal safety. With her company, Damsel in Defense, Blackmon hosts parties, talks, and seminars to share her products and wisdom with women throughout our region.
A scary situation in college ignited Melissa Blackmon’s passion for personal safety. With her company, Damsel in Defense, Blackmon hosts parties, talks, and seminars to share her products and wisdom with women throughout our region.

Melissa Rufener Blackmon, 43 of East Charlotte, has a team of 23 Damsel in Defense pros helping local women and men with personal defense. The company has over 8500 damsels across the US and is still growing amazingly. Keep reading to see how Damsel in Defense can help you!

Q. What exactly is Damsel in Defense?

A. Damsel in Defense is a company with a mission: to equip, empower, and educate women about safety. We have a whole line of defense products including alarms, car items, pepper sprays, stun guns, Digital Damsel (a service that cleans up and protects your computer, and does identity theft protection, social media monitoring, and crime awareness for your area), and more.

The company also supports many causes including (which helps girls in the Philippines escape the sex trade) and RAINN (Rape Abuse Incest National Network), both of which receive a portion of all sales. We also have a unique charity that we focus on each month.

Many of us also work closely with domestic violence prevention and treatment organizations. We help shed light on the issues regarding women and violence, and help women begin to have the discussions that can not only heal them, but also change the statistics of these crimes.

Q. How were you introduced to Damsel in Defense?

A. A friend of mine from college joined Damsel about 6 months before me, and knew it would be something that I would be extremely passionate about. I joined that day without ever having seen a party, event, or any of the products.

Q. What made you decide to become a Independent Damsel Pro?

A. I've been passionate about safety for a long time. I went to a very small, predominately women's college in Pennsylvania. While there, a serial rapist began stalking us. He broke into our house repeatedly and took items from us. My roommate surprised him one day and was the only one who had ever seen his face. They used us as bait until they caught him about a month and a half later.

That was a long time for us to be afraid, and we had nothing to protect ourselves with. Even afterwards, I lived in fear for a long time, and it changed how I lived. I wouldn't live alone, wouldn't come home after dark, didn't sleep well at night.

Being able to empower women to protect themselves and having products that they can use to stay safe is my passion!!

Three GAGs

Q. What all do you do?

A. I do free home parties and shows (everything from drinks and PJs with the girls to formal brunches), Empower Hours at businesses (which is a quick rundown of the products, education, and services), events such as Spring Flings, talks for large or small groups (women's groups, mom's groups, church groups, newcomer groups), one-on-one demonstrations, and basically everything in between!

Q. What is your favorite part about the company?

There are so many great aspect of the company. First, I enjoy that I can be proud of what I do, I can see the changes I make in people's lives. My kids can see the importance of what I do and have also learned at a young age what they can do to stay safe. People contact me and let me know how they use the products and education, and how glad they were that they had a way to keep something bad from happening.

Additionally, I love that the founders are real people – they are moms who wanted to make a change in the world and set out to do it. I got to meet them last year, and they were so down to earth and genuine.

This company is not about "just a paycheck" or about "trying to get someone to buy something". They are focused on education and empowerment and safety comes first. To me, that is amazing.

I also enjoy that I get to help women heal. At almost every event or party, a stranger comes up and tells me about an experience in their life that a lot of times they've never told anyone else. They've carried it around like a weight, and I can help them ease that burden. The amount of times I've held a stranger's hand and cried with them makes me more determined every day to reach more people.

Finally, education is so important to me. So many women will talk about shoes, men, food....but never safety. I get to change that!

Q. What are some of the Damsel in Defense products?

A. Some of my favorites include:

Personal Alarms - great for your key chain, but also great for kids backpacks. A necessity when kids start going into restrooms by themselves!

Road Trip tool – this device has an emergency beacon, flashlight, seat belt cutter, and glass breaker all in one

Pepper sprays - including one that comes in a glove so that you can't drop it while running, etc.

Secret Safe -for your beach bag, gym bag, motel room, dorm room

Striking Tool - for your key chain and one that comes in a glove

Door Alarm -for dorm rooms, motel rooms, etc.

Stun Guns - each has a powerful flashlight and disable pin so they can't be used against you. Even the sound they emit is a powerful deterrent to people and animals.

Many of the items "seem" scary to people until they see them and hold them, which is why we do home parties and events. We also now have a service - Digital Damsel. It protects your electronic devises and your family from digital crimes.

Our newest release is a line for men - they wanted in on the fun too.

Q. What is a must have item?

A. I think the "must haves" are different for each person. The Road Trip tool should be in every vehicle for emergencies, of course. But I think having a stun gun with you is just as important.

I've gotten a flat tire on a road trip in the middle of nowhere, and had my daughter in the car. How do you protect both of you? I've also had people approach my vehicle in a dark parking lot, been chased by a loose dog on a walk, and had strange people come to my door at home. My stun gun solved each of those very quickly, and I didn't have to actually stun anyone. The sound alone gets the point across very quickly.

But you also have to know what someone is comfortable with, and how they react in situations. If they are not a fighter, then a striking tool will probably not be very effective for them. An alarm would be a better choice.

Q. What does a party entail?

A. A party can be anything the hostess would like it to be. It can be a big event, with games and food, etc., or it can be a half hour informal "before heading out for the night" kind of thing, or anything in between.

I talk to the hostess beforehand and get an idea of what she's looking for, and then create the party that she'd like.

Q. What is an empower hour?

A. An Empower Hour is a shortened version of a home or office party. It's a brief rundown of products, a brief discussion about safety tips....all in an hour!

Q. How can others get involved?

A. Anyone looking to get involved with hosting or joining can contact me directly. We are always looking for more team members that are passionate about safety and would like to join our Mission! I'd be happy to talk more about what we do, or provide any information that people need.

A few questions that people ask me:

Is it just for women? - No, we have a line for men and even have a handful of "Damsel Dudes" across the country. Originally, the products were made for women - because women have a lower chance of finding items that they are comfortable with, and that come in colors and designs that they liked. Also, at events and parties, some women were more comfortable discussing past situations without men around. It's all up to the group or individual!

Are we anti-gun? No! Many of us are ex police or military, and some of us own guns. It's about layering protection and not just relying on one type. There are many laws about where and when you are allowed to use a gun to defend yourself, and many repercussions from using one. Our products and education give you more options!

Are our products legal? Yes, we live in an open carry state. There are a few states that regulate what and how to carry self defense products. And although you can pack any of our items in a suitcase to travel, you'll want to look up regulations on where you are going to see what they are.

Are Stun Guns lethal? To the average person no. They dump an amount of electricity into the person's body (6 or 7.5 million volts) and cause mental confusion, muscle impairment, etc. This allows you the time to get away from a situation.

What is the difference between Pepper Spray and Mace? Mace is a chemical compound that is created by man. It can rely on pain to work. Pepper Spray is derived from actual peppers, so even if a person is impaired or angry the pepper still causes the eyes to water and swell, the nose to run, breathing to become labored, etc.

You can find more information at: 704-770-1038