Latest Community Conversation will focus on empowerment and safety

Jun 24, 2020

The sign at the Ninilchik Fairgrounds still prompts passersby for information on the disappearance of Anesha "Duffy" Murnane in June 2020.
Credit Jay Barrett/KBBI

In the months following the disappearance of a 38-year-old Homer woman from the streets of downtown last October, a series of community conversations have been held to help the public deal with the shock and aftermath. Friends of Anesha “Duffy” Murnane have scheduled another conversation for Thursday, this one focused on safety and self-defense.
    Christina Whiting is one of the organizers of the conversation.
    “It seems to me, this is just me, that there's a lot of fear. There's a lot of confusion. There's a lot of anger. There's a lot of things we can't control right now, all these things, which also play into a community member going missing, but it just kind of was like, like a springboard and just the timing seems like let's just keep it going,” Whiting said. “We did a couple of conversations and we were okay, 'maybe that's enough.' But, I think there's a lot of triggers for people right now, they may or may not even be aware of it.”
    The class is led by a former FBI agent who now teaches Empowered Mindset Self Defense seminars nationwide. Stacey Mitry compares her philosophy to how we learn as kindergarteners to proceed in a school fire drill.
    “That is a safety plan that we have taught our children. So why not have an additional safety plan of ‘how do I keep myself safe when I'm out and about?’ And it becomes second nature. Like I said, I don't have go to the mall and be paranoid that someone could be following me, or I should always walk with my back to the wall or clutch my purse so tight, right,” Mirtry said. “That doesn't feel good. Right? We want to be able to just move through life with our heads up with confidence and knowing that we can handle a situation if it came our way.”
    Conducting the course over Zoom forces Mitry to concentrate more on the philosophy of situational awareness, she says, and she encourages the young people to bring questions, but also their own potential answers.
    “I just did a class with, I had 27 moms and 27 12-year-olds on Zoom, and the girls would unmute and say things like, 'Well, what, what could I do if this?' And I said, ‘Well, what could you do? You tell me.’ If you turn it back around, oftentimes they know, or they have got a great answer. And because they thought of it even better, because they're going to remember, ‘Hey, I thought of that because I know I can do that,’” Mitry said. “So it's just returning that power back to whether it's a child or an adult. But if I can think through things and I'm just giving you the base of it, right, here's some situations, what would you do? Let's talk through some scenarios and then practice them.”
    Whiting says everyone in the community is welcome to attend the Empowered Mindset Self Defense class community conversation.
    “I think that's really important to, you know, whether you knew her family or don't, I mean, you certainly probably know her now because you've heard stories about her,” Whiting said. “She could have been your daughter, your sister, your mother, your aunt, your neighbor, your coworker, your friend, like she really kind of personifies anybody in the community, male or female.”
    The Empowered Mindset Self Defense community conversation is Thursday at 5:30 p.m. and will be conducted over Zoom. To receive the link by email, register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/110212338070 or contact Tela O'donnell at telaodonnell@gmail.com or 907-399-9854.