My family and friends will tell you I have an unusual preoccupation with safeguarding against personal attacks. Perhaps because my husband has been deployed so frequently, leaving me in charge of our home and family’s security, or maybe because I watch too much television, for some reason I am constantly on the lookout for potential threats and coming up with plans to combat them.
Consequently, I’ve done a lot of research on self-defense techniques so that I can protect myself and my family in the event of an attack. I won’t frighten you with statistics since my hope is that you will never be a target. I do hope you will arm yourself with this information on how to ensure you don’t become a victim though since it will only take a few minutes to read.
Don’t be an easy target
The best self defense strategy is to avoid being attacked at all. Just as you shouldn’t leave your keys in your unlocked car in a parking lot to make it easy for a thief to steal your car, you shouldn’t make yourself an easy target for a mugger or rapist. Here are some things you can do to make yourself an unattractive target:
- Walk confidently, be aware of your surroundings, look people in the eye.
- Don’t be flashy with your money or belongings.
- Despite your desire to get more exercise, skip the stairs if you are alone, especially at night.
- Don’t wear headphones so that you can hear what is going on around you.
Don’t dawdle in your car
When you get into your car and fiddle with your purse or phone, it is easy for someone to hop in your passenger seat. When you are in a parking lot and get to your car either get in and leave right away or at least lock your doors once you are in if you need to put receipts or money away or make a call
Give yourself a chance to get away
As a woman, the chance that your attacker will be larger and stronger than you are pretty high. Rather than try to engage in hand-to-hand combat, do what you can to give you the best chance to escape.
- Don’t hand over your item, toss it away from you. If the assailant asks for your purse, jewelry or wallet, throw it far away from you so that as he (or she) goes after the item you can run in the opposite direction.
- Yell! If there are people within earshot, scream your head off. This will scare your attacker away because he/she will not want to be caught.
- If your attacker’s intention appears to be violence or abduction, do what you can to disarm him/her. The more quickly you can react, the better because the attacker will be expecting you to freeze from fear rather than fight back initially. Target vulnerable body parts:
- Eyes – Gouge the eyes with your fingers or car keys.
- Nose – Drive your palm upward into the nose. Even if you don’t break the nose, it will cause a temporary blinding pain that will allow you to time to run.
- Throat – A karate chop to the Adam’s apple will choke your assailant for a brief period of time, in which you can be running away.
- Groin – If you see a shot, take it, preferably with a swift kick or knee. This move should double him over long enough for you to get to safety.
- Knees – If you can get a good kick to one or both of your attacker’s knees, you should be able to disable him temporarily.
- Use the hardest parts of your body to attack your assailant:
Do not leave the original scene.
If your attacker tries to get you to leave the scene where he/she originally approaches you, do whatever you can to prevent him/her from taking you to a new location. The new location will be a place he/she is sure no one will be available to help you so your chances of getting to safety will be significantly diminished.
- If the attacker tries to get you to drive to a different location, crash the car. A crash will attract other people, hopefully driving the perpetrator to flee from the scene. It also gives you the opportunity to take your attacker by surprise so that you can get away.
- If your attacker has a gun and threatens to shoot you if you don’t do what he/she says, run away (preferably in a zig zag pattern). You only have a 4% chance of being hit at all and odds are far lower that it will hit a major organ.
Although carrying a weapon may give you a sense of security, think hard before deciding to do so. Remember, if you have a weapon there is a chance that your larger, stronger assailant will be able to take it away from you and use it against you. Also, if you attempt to use a weapon but don’t hit your target precisely, you will accomplish nothing more than angering your attacker and escalating the level of violence.
If, despite these considerations, you still want to obtain a weapon, please make sure you practice with it before you begin carrying it. You should be familiar with how the weapon works, know exactly how close to your attacker you should be in order to use it effectively, and be aware of how much (or how little) the weapon will disable an attacker. Pepper spray, for example, does not work the way that it is often depicted in movies. You must be fairly precise with the stream and it can sometimes take several seconds for it to take effect.
One final consideration when deciding whether or not to carry a self-defense weapon is legal compliance. Laws vary from state to state as to which items are legal to carry and whether or not concealed carry permits are required. Before purchasing a stun gun or pepper spray to carry with you, make sure you won’t be breaking the law.
Don’t be viewed as a victim.
If the unthinkable happens and you are taken against your will, do what you can to humanize yourself in the eyes of your attacker. Studies show that it is difficult for many assailants to commit violence against victims who they view as people. Do not grovel, beg or become hysterical. This behavior makes it easier for the attacker to view you as a weak animal. Try not to cry. Talk about your family and try to form some sort of bond with your attacker.
I sincerely hope that you will never need this advice. If someone ever does target you, I hope that this knowledge will help you survive the incident unharmed.