It’s a sad fact of the world we live in that women need to be more aware of self defense tactics than men. In a perfect world, articles like this one wouldn’t have to exists; and in a more fair world the title would be “5 Self Defence Tips All People Should Know” but the statistics show us that our world isn’t always fair. In 2005, 92% of all sexual assault victims in the United States were female according to the Women’s Self Defense Institute. More than one million women are stalked each year in the US compared to nearly 400,000 men. Obviously it makes sense for everyone to be aware of techniques they can use to stay safe when travelling alone at night, but due to the increased risk of attacks on females there is an even greater need for women to be alert and informed. With that in mind, let’s get into the list:
1. Use Your Senses
The best way to stay safe is to avoid a confrontation altogether. Criminals do not see all people as equally likely targets, they identify those who will give them the least trouble and the best chance to escape. Consequently, your best self defence strategy is to not be an easy target. Walk tall with good posture and be aware of your surroundings. Don’t wear headphones, your ears are a valuable resource in knowing what is going on around you especially after dark. Keep your head up and watch where you are going. The sooner you can react to a potential situation the better off you will be.
2. Dress for Success
If you plan on walking home alone or expect to be in some other similarly risky situation, wear clothing that will allow you full mobility. Stash a pair of running shoes at a friend’s house, in someone’s car, or carry them with you. Avoid tight fitting clothes that will restrict your movement. Part of avoiding a confrontation might be the ability to run away from a potential threat, and you don’t want heels and a skirt to get in your way.
3. Stay Visible
Be conscious of the route you choose to get home. If there are busier streets with better lighting that add ten minutes to your walk but will keep you safe, take them. Criminals tend to stick to areas where there are fewer people for a reason and it pays to avoid them. Also, be aware of how you are walking. Take a wide path around corners to avoid being surprised.
4. Have a Toolkit
Carry items that will help you out if you end up in a bad situation. At the very least, a whistle will alert other people around you that something is wrong and at best it may scare away any potential attacker. Also consider carrying weapon, but be aware of the fact that any weapon you carry has the potential to be used against you. If you live in a place that allows them, personal pepper spray canisters are a great option. Just make sure you know how to use them. A well placed shot of pepper spray in the face of an attacker can give you the time you need to get away.
5. Know How to Fight Back
When prevention and your toolkit fail you, be prepared and know how to fight back. There is also no such thing as fighting dirty when your safety is on the line. Direct any punches you throw at your attackers face. If they come at you with their hands outstretched grab a thumb for finger and bend it like a Christmas wishbone. If they get closer than that, grab their shoulders and hit them in the groin with your knee as hard as you can. Other sensitive areas are the shin and the eyes. Focusing in the right targets and landing one good shot can give you the window you need to get to safety. Look into taking a self defence class offered in your area.
Featured photo credit: PictureYouth via flickr.com