What Women Drivers Should Know About Verbal Encounters

We have been asked on a number of occasions what is the best way to handle verbal encounters with male drivers and warehouse staff.  Here are few suggestions from our Women’s Personal Safety and Defense classes.

Rule #1…   If you cannot control yourself … you cannot control situation.

  1. Lets face it, people say stupid things. Don’t react to casual comments.  The purpose of the comment was to get a reaction from you. Let casual comments slide and focus on responding vs. reacting.
  2. Don’t allow yourself to be baited into a verbal exchange with a potential heckler.  Control the encounter. Don’t become the victim.  Resist the urge to come back with a smart put down comment.  If you feel like you won, you actually lost.  If an encounter continues to escalate, establish eye contact and say “ Back off.  Be firm. Say it once and keep moving.
  3. Every encounter is different. Follow your instinct and don’t be embarrassed to take some direct action.  ALWAYS TRUST that small voice inside your head. If you feel something is wrong it probably is.
  4. The first 30 seconds of any confrontation sets the tone. If you look and act confident and prepared, you will avoid trouble most of the time.
  5. Never go with someone even if you are threaten with a weapon.  Your job is to spoil their plan. If they tell you to be quiet, yell Back Off at that the top of your lungs. Feel free to add other words for additional color. If they tell you to come with them and that you will not be hurt — run the other way. If you go with an attacker you have a 10% chance of surviving.
  6. Carry pepper spray. It is legal to possess and use in most states.  We recommend the use of a stream spray and aim for the eyes.  If you use it in a state that has legal restrictions, you typically may pay a small nuisance fine but potentially saved your life.
  7. If it gets physical. Never give up fighting.  Do as much damage as you can to sensitive targets such as eyes, ears, nose, knees, fingers and groin.

Consider taking a street proven self-defense program like Girls Strike Back that shows women how to use their most powerful weapons to protect against attack.

What is Trucker Therapy?

When I first started out as a mental health therapist, I found that I had several clients who were truckers.  Quickly, I realized that my clients were unable to keep appointments because they were out on the road.  Therapy was quickly ineffective for them.

I also had clients who would take weeks off work (usually unpaid, of course) so they were able to see me for weekly office visits.  This was also not very helpful to the client.

I knew there needed to be a more effective means to help the truckers.  After a great deal of thought, I remembered my skills of volunteering at a crisis hotline (more than 500 hours).  I started networking with the trucking community by leaving business cards at truck stops and through word of mouth.  Then, Twitter and Facebook started to become more popular.  Now, I’m proud to say that I talk with truckers every day who are seeking help, as well having casual conversations over Facebook and Twitter.

Not only do truckers suffer from having great difficulty accessing therapy and other healthcare, but there are many problems related to the profession itself.  For example, truckers have a high rate of depression related to the isolation of being out on the road for days and weeks on-end.  Because most people are social creatures, the isolation of driving a truck can really take a toll on one’s mental health.  Also, relationship problems are very frequent, as well.  It is very difficult to keep a relationship going when one is away from home for extended periods of time.  As there are more arguments and/or isolation with the trucker’s loved ones, life becomes more and more stressful.  Dispatchers, receivers, and all of the four wheelers on the road only compound the stress.

What is Trucker Therapy? Trucker Therapy uses phone and Skype so the trucker can stay on the road and improve themselves at the same time. Couples can also work on their relationship, either with teams or when the trucker is on the road and the other is at home.  For couples that are away from one another, I use conference calls and/or Skype. For those who are passing through, visits are also available in my Lafayette, Indiana office.  Anger, Stress, and Relationships are the primary focus of trucker therapy, but many other issues may be discussed.

Trucker Therapy is only part of what I do.  I also work in private practice where I see people in my office for anger management, anxiety, and couples therapy.  I am also active in the community by giving trainings to other healthcare providers and the general public on these topics.

Depression and Trucking

A lot of truckers really love their jobs and never think depression is a hazard of the job. However, there are quite a few truckers out there who get stuck in their daily routine and become more and more unhappy. The longer they are on the road, the less interaction they have with their family and friends.

After a while, the lack of contact leaves the driver feeling empty and isolated. The more empty and isolated a person is, the easier it is to cut off contact with the outside world. I’m sure you can see how depression causes isolation and more isolation causes more depression.

What is depression?

Remember, it is human to have feelings of sadness from time to time. Depression is when you have feelings of sadness and it interferes with something—job, family, not having enough energy to function, or being tired all the time, just to name a few. Since depression often runs in families, pay close attention to your family history if you find yourself feeling depressed.

What can be done about depression?

Many people instantly think of medication when they think of depression. Depending on the situation, an antidepressant may be appropriate. However, I want people to realize that by changing thoughts and behaviors, depression can often be reduced or eliminated. If a person often thinks negative thoughts, surrounds themselves with negative people, or isolates themselves, it is much easier to become depressed. Many people don’t realize that excessive drinking (more than 3 drinks per day) or other drug use often leads to depression or worsens existing depression.

These behaviors cause a person to be more depressed:

  • Isolation
  • Focusing on negatives
  • Considering self disabled
  • Focusing on anger
  • Substance abuse

These behaviors will help you to feel better:

  • Exercise
  • Hobbies
  • Talking with someone you trust about stress, depression, and other feelings
  • Journaling
  • Interacting with friends, family and other drivers
  • Taking a vacation!

Suicide

The ultimate consequence of depression is suicide. Usually, people commit or attempt suicide when they feel there is no hope of stopping the pain of depression or intense sadness. If someone reaches out to you in order to discuss their suicidal feelings, please take their concern seriously and talk with them. They usually need more of a listening ear, than a person to “fix” the problem. Listening is the best thing you can do. If you feel they are at risk of hurting themselves that day, see that they go to the nearest emergency room so they can get intensive services. If the suicidal person refuses help and you believe they are going to hurt themselves, call 9-1-1, so the police may help them get to the emergency room.

If you are suicidal and you are not willing to reach out to someone or go to the emergency room, these hotlines are available:

National Suicide Hotline (United States) at 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-273-TALK. Additional phone numbers can be located at Suicidehotlines.com.

If you have feelings of depression, sadness, or have some thoughts of hurting yourself, therapy often helps. Call a therapist or mental health center nearest you for an assessment. Once you are assessed, talk with your therapist to see if a referral for medication will be helpful.