Nesbit, MS (WMC) - Think Wolverine from the X-Men movies. Or, more appropriately, Wolverina.
The Tiger Lady, $29 per claw, is barely two ounces. It fits in a coat, pant pocket, or purse. When you squeeze it, claws pop out. Marketed to women, the Tiger Lady is designed to be a close-quarters self-defense option that enables a victim to scratch, claw and collect DNA from her attacker.
"At least this way, you're going to get some DNA for the police to go by (if the attacker escapes or can't be identified)," said Stephanie Herrada.
Herrada, 51, was sexually assaulted at 13 by her best friend's stepfather.
"I tried my hardest to fight, but I was really small," she said. "He was very over-powering, so I felt quite helpless, because I didn't know what was going on." Herrada's attacker was charged, but never convicted. She said her feeling of helplessness lingered until her attacker died 19 years after the assault. "That's when I let it all go and decided I wasn't going to be a victim anymore," she said.
She earned her handgun carry permit (she's a crack-shot with a .380). She regularly hones her shooting skills. But the Tiger Lady intrigued her as a secondary self-defense weapon to support her handgun. "I'm always looking for different options," she said. "And the Tiger Lady may be good for a girl who's not old enough for a handgun carry permit or for someone who's not comfortable with guns."
Self-defense experts Robby and Kristina Beard of USA Karate help Herrada test the Tiger Lady on fabric designed to imitate human skin. Robby Beard said by the look of the cuts and damage to the fabric, the Tiger Lady will definitely collect DNA from an attacker. "But it's just not going to incapacitate them from attacking you," Beard said. "It'll cause pain, but not a lot of damage, and that may embolden an attacker to continue the attack. I like the fact that you can take this weapon to places you can't take a traditional firearm -- the fact that you can carry it into hospitals, different workplaces, college campuses. But if it doesn't stop an attacker, the attacker could actually take this weapon and use it against (the victim)."
Both Herrada and Kristina Beard thought the claws, however sharp, were too short and easily dulled. "I just think the claws could be a little bit longer," Herrada said. Beard said, "If they could be a little bit longer, I think they would be more beneficial."
The Tiger Lady may be beneficial to some women. "Maybe some young teenage girls who aren't allowed to carry pepper spray or a handgun," Herrada said.
But for now, the former teenage assault victim-turned-confident middle-aged personal protection advocate will stick to her guns.