By Alison Myoraku
Special to the Almanac
Former stalking victim, and now empowered "Safety Chick," Kathleen Baty is scheduled to speak at Kepler's bookstore about her newest book, "College Safety 101," at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25.
"I cover the five essential keys to safety at these talks," says Ms. Baty, who adopted the "Safety Chick" handle after someone called her that. "Personal safety (intuition), getting to know your campus, partying and socializing, date rape drugs, and the social media."
Having personally experienced the terrors of stalking as a student at the University of California at Los Angeles, Ms. Baty directs her book talks to adolescent girls.
"My goal is to give girls street smarts before they have to learn them the hard way," she says.
The event is open to the public, with the purchase of the book or a $10 gift card to Kepler's. It's free to Kepler's members.
During her years at UCLA, where she studied acting and writing, and participated on the cheerleading squad, Ms. Baty fell victim to a stalker. He stalked her all through college, and beyond, until the situation escalated to a dangerous level in May 1990.
At this time, the stalker confronted her at her home in Menlo Park, armed with a gun, and tried to kidnap her.
"I jumped a fence, and luckily got away," she says. "It resulted in an 11-hour police stand-off, where the stalker was finally arrested."
Following this traumatizing event, she was asked by then-state senator Ed Royce, who is now in Congress, to testify in front of the California Senate, and to help him pass the nation's first anti-stalking law, later adopted by other states.
She obliged, and thanks to her practice in public speaking at UCLA, she was able to portray her feelings of living as a hunted animal for 15 years. She described the experience of sharing her thoughts as "a huge weight being lifted from [her shoulders."
"I thought of this as my way of getting my power back," she added.
The law "makes it a crime to engage in a pattern of behavior that harasses and/or threatens other people," according to the National Center for Victims of Crime.
Collaborating on the anti-stalking law was only the tip of the iceberg for her involvement in stalking prevention and advocacy for victims. Apart from appearing on nationally televised shows like the "Today" show and "America's Most Wanted," she has joined the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and has trained law enforcement officers in intervention techniques.
At various conferences, she noticed that the messages about stalking and personal safety were "negative, daunting, and sort of like watching a car wreck." In short, frightening.
"I think women and teenage girls respond to positive things," she said. "I write in a fun, catch-phrase way so that my audiences will remember what they've read, which is the most important thing."
This writing technique is evident in her first book, "A Girl's Gotta Do What a Girl's Gotta Do: The Ultimate Guide to Living Safe and Smart," published in 2003. The upbeat tone advises girls about safety in an accessible way, not through fear.
In mid-August, she plans to reunite with Rep. Royce, R-Fullerton, at the National Association of Threat Assessment Professionals conference in Anaheim, where the two will be keynote speakers.
Fans of the "Safety Chick" may see another book on the shelves soon. She has considered writing a book about "Safety Dudes," partially inspired by her three sons.
● Go to safetychick.com for more information about Kathleen Baty and her work.
● go to tinyurl.com/Baty-163 for more information on the Kepler's event.
At a conference for the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Kathleen Baty encountered a message that she now passionately advocates. In a class led by two female police chiefs from the University of Wisconsin and University of California at Davis, the topic of discussion was what to do in the event of a school shooting.
Here, the two women explained their OUT strategy, or five pieces of advice: Get Out (move out of harm's way). Call Out (dial 911). Hide Out (find a safe place to hide). Keep Out (make sure the shooter is denied entry). And Take Out (fight!).