Personal Safety Training

Empowering Women

Through Personal Safety Training

By Kelly Koepke

In 1993, Trish Hoffman fled her Scottsdale life after two years of being stalked by an ex-boyfriend. She did everything right: filed dozens of police reports, three restraining orders and moved three times. But despite her efforts, he kept finding her. After a particularly scary incident where she and a friend were threatened with bodily injury, the police suggested she leave town. She packed up her car and headed to Albuquerque.

Being able to protect oneself doesn’t matter what age or size you are. Trish Hoffman

After a successful 23-year career with the Albuquerque Police Department, Trish is now on a mission to teach women (and men) to avoid potentially dangerous situations, and defend themselves if they can’t. During her time as a police officer, she saw a lot of bad things happen and witnessed their aftermath. What she discovered is that she liked community service, and liked teaching the self-defense classes she developed for the community. So when she retired from APD in 2017, she put her experience to work by opening Women Against Crime.

Women Against Crime provides training that helps women learn how to recognize possible threats and defend themselves. “My long-term goal is to take WAC global and connect and empower women not just in New Mexico. It’s definitely a calling,” she says. The WAC website also offers free guides for preventing burglary in your home or car, safety tips for online dating, and other resources for those interested in improving their awareness and defenses.

As a police officer in the Duke City, Trish created the self-defense courses that make the core of Women Against Crime in the early 2000s. Their focus is to build confidence and reduce fear in women to help prevent them becoming targets of crime and, if they are, to be proactive in defending themselves during an attack. The free community classes often had a waiting list.

Now in business for herself, Trish offers self-defense sessions to groups of 10 or more. She also provides a personal protective device meant to be held in the hand to anyone she meets. She gave out a handful of the pink and blue devices that look like cats’ faces with pointy ears to the clerks at the coffee shop during our interview. As a local celebrity recognized from her time as APD spokesperson, Trish is often interviewed by the media, especially after an incident makes the newspapers or television.

According to Cityrating.com and the Albuquerque Police Department, the crime rate in Albuquerque is trending downward. However, both violent and property crime rates are almost twice the national average.

“Everything is about attitude,” Trish says about self defense. “There is a perception that Albuquerque is a violent city with a lot of stranger-on-stranger crime, but most crime is drug- or domestic- violence related. Still, we all put ourselves in vulnerable positions two to six times a day. These are the times we’re in between — walking from our homes to our cars, from our cars to the grocery store or office building. Or when we’re out walking or exercising alone. It’s these times that we need to be aware and have a plan.”

Situational awareness and being prepared are key components of Women Against Crime’s two-hour training classes, and a focus of Trish’s speaking engagements and corporate sessions. She says that being proactive about one’s own safety can deter or help avoid being a target.

Instructor Trish Hoffman gives instruction to Renay Moya on what to do if you are attacked from behind.

“Put your phone away, take your earbuds out, and hold your keys or a personal defense device in your weak hand. Keep your head on a swivel and look around, with shoulders back and a confident walk. That signals you’re someone to be taken seriously. The average dirt bag expects no resistance at all, or for you to go into panic mode. Do resist. Don’t panic. Scream and be loud. Kick and fight!” she says.

WAC’s classes also offer practice in physical techniques like choke-hold releases, wrist releases, and elbow and heel strikes. Trish often sees shy women whose timid body language blossoms into confidence by the end of a class. Being able to protect oneself doesn’t matter what age or size you are, either. “My goal in each class is really to empower one person. That’s the whole reason I do this. We’re all in charge of our own personal safety, and the class gives people the confidence to get them started on that path,” she says.

When she’s not building her business, Trish is active in her church and as a hospice volunteer. She’s committed to the local community, too. “I got some advice when I retired to move away from Albuquerque. And I did go away for six weeks just to check it out. But Albuquerque is my community. I’ve been here a long time and it’s my home.”

For more information, to schedule a class, tips on personal safety, or to inquire about having Trish speak to your group, visit Women Against Crime at www.womenagainstcrime.com.

My goal in each class is really to empower one person.Trish Hoffman

Steps to Safety

Be Aware.
Scanning your surroundings, even when in your own driveway or walking from your car to work or a store, can head off trouble before it even starts. Keep your head on a swivel and look around at all times. Avoid problems when you can.

Use Your Voice.
The difference between someone yelling, “Get back!” or “Leave me alone!” and someone not doing those things is vital. Practice your yell in front of a mirror so that being loud becomes second nature.

Learn One Technique and Make It Second Nature.
The difference between someone yelling, “Get back!” or “Leave me alone!” and someone not doing those things is vital. Practice your yell in front of a mirror so that being loud becomes second nature.

Take Your Confidence Forward.
Set the tone by projecting confidence in your walk with shoulders back and hands free. Most criminals are looking for someone distracted or otherwise occupied, or who looks timid and unable to resist. Don’t be that person.