LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - We all have those places where we just don't feel quite comfortable: a parking garage, dark street, maybe a stairwell. Thousands of women turn to secret weapons, or everyday-looking items, with not so everyday-implications, to give them an extra sense of security. We're working for you, putting them to the test to see if they're worth your hard-earned money and your trust.
At the Brad Haynes Martial Arts Academy in Clarksville, the students are fit and ready to fight to defend themselves if necessary
"To have that mindset of I'm going home," said owner Brad Haynes. "That's the first thing whether it be, if they want my wallet, just give them my wallet or whether it's going to be something where I have to physically defend myself."
While we all may not be martial arts masters, a quick search of the internet turns up a ton of products that promise to give us the edge over a potential attacker.
University of Louisville police officer Aaron Graham said he teaches students the best defense is to avoid getting into risky situations in the first place.
"If you get involved in a situation where you're going to have to defend yourself, you want to get away as fast as possible," Graham said. "Most of it is being aware of your surroundings."
Graham helped us test some of the more popular protection products to see if they'd really work if the unthinkable were to happen.
We started with a benign-looking ball cap that actually contains a pocket of metal beads.
"If this is on your head and you can remember that it is on your head at that time, what this is going to serve as is a distraction technique," said Graham.
Graham added, that's the main problem: remembering and practicing. If you can, he said, "I would give it a thumbs up purely as a distraction. It's not going to be a weapon whatsoever."
That's not the case with the hairbrush, which turns into a shank.
"Yes, it's going to inflict a lot of damage," said Graham.
He said most of us are not going to carry a hairbrush where we could get to it quickly enough if we need it. Plus, it's hard to use.
"If you get frightened, if you get nervous, are you going to be able to get that out?" he questioned of removing the brush cover. "I would give it a thumbs down."
Where and how we carry the Pocket Shark pen also concerns him. It can be used as a kubotan, a sort of striking weapon.
Graham explained that it's "something that you would use to gain that distance and separation from you and any attacker."
Like many of the other protection products, Graham is concerned whether it will be handily available when we need it.
"I would give it a sideways thumb," he said.
Graham was a little more enthusiastic about a G. E. doorstop alarm.
"It's a cheap home security system," he said. "It's a way of waking you up."
The noise alone, Graham said, might stop someone in their tracks, "and it will give you the opportunity to get away and try to get some type of help. I would say thumbs up for this for what it's actually intended. It's not a self-defense item but it is some sort of deterrent that may help you get away."
Graham's favorite product: old-fashioned pepper spray.
"It is beneficial," he said. "It is something that we can say, yes you can carry because it is going to help you."
It's actually the one he'd pick for his wife and daughter if he were picking a product, but he said the people at Brad Haynes Martial Arts Academy may be in the best position to protect themselves, using the weapons we were born with -- our voices, hands and feet.
"First thing I would teach them is some very simple moves because in times of stress, you're going to fall back on what you already know," said Graham.
"Physical skills, they're in your head, they're in your hands and feet and so you know them," Haynes said.