Erin O’Brien-Kerr

When it comes to keeping community members safe, the good people at Damsel in Defense (DiD) have your back. The company, which offers self-defense products, such as pepper spray, personal alarms, portable door locks and stun guns, was founded in 2011 in Idaho, and has found its footing in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

Local realtor Erin O’Brien-Kerr has been with the company since 2014. She is an independent Damsel pro director and holds safety seminars for students, seniors, men, women and anyone who could use a little extra protection in their day-to-day life. 

Given the statistics for attacks and assaults, she’s providing a necessary service to anyone who uses parking lots, restrooms or parking garages: 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted (1 in 6 being attacked before age 17), and 1 in 3 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

As the wife of a retired law enforcement officer and the mother of two girls, O’Brien-Kerr has always taught her daughters to keep their heads on a swivel when out in public. 

“The main thing that I promote is situational awareness,” said O’Brien-Kerr, who demonstrated her own grasp of the concept during a presentation at Cruise Coffee in Scotts Valley: As travelers disembarked from the stream of buses passing by the courtyard, O’Brien-Kerr never kept her back turned toward the travelers and was continuously displaying awareness of her surroundings.

She offers her safety seminars to all ages, but is most closely aligned with college students, realtors and senior citizens. She has spoken to sororities affiliated with San José State University and Santa Clara University and has found that the primary issue affecting students’ safety is their addiction to their Emotional Support Devices: cell phones.

Students who walk down the street with their faces buried in their cell phones are a prime target for those who would do them harm, and O’Brien-Kerr said that adding in the ubiquitous headphones and earbuds only amplifies the potential for an assault to occur. 

“The most important thing you can do to remain safe in public is to walk with your head high and your shoulders back. Demonstrating confidence, looking people in the eye and listening to your gut are all part of situational awareness, and are a deterrent to potential attacks,” she said.

In addition to the advice-laden presentations, O’Brien-Kerr also sells the various devices that Damsel in Defense offers to help increase personal safety.

“The first step to protecting yourself is to be prepared,” said O’Brien-Kerr, whose own purse features multiple DiD implements designed to incapacitate an attacker. 

While most of the devices sold by DiD are meant for ages 18-plus, O’Brien-Kerr says being aware of your surroundings is a lesson that should be taught at a young age, and being polite should be dismissed in favor of protecting oneself.

“If you’re using your internal awareness and preparedness, you’ll have a much better chance of not being a victim,” she said.

For information on DiD products, or to connect with O’Brien-Kerr, visit

Previous articleSan Lorenzo Valley High senior receives $20K scholarship
Next articleTherapyWorks | Importance of Workplace Wellness
Christina Wise covers politics, education, art & culture, and housing issues. She has a degree in Communication from San Diego State University, and has lived in the San Lorenzo Valley since 1996. She's a community advocate and a mother of two.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here