Three Tools for Self Defense
If you are aware of your surroundings and make a conscious effort to avoid potentially dangerous situations, you can greatly increase your safety and reduce the likelihood of a personal assault.
The first step you must take in staying safe and defending yourself is to be aware and alert, paying attention to your surroundings. This lays the foundation for any action you must take. The first “tool” you must employ in self defense is your wits, making wise decisions and smart choices about where to go, what to wear, timing, and the company you keep. Thinking through scenarios and situations, rather than playing things by ear can help you be more prepared for any dangers that might arise.
Where to go – Avoid taking that unknown shortcut when you’re alone. Don’t knowingly put yourself at a disadvantage. Feel like checking out a new club or restaurant? Plan accordingly for crowds, parking, etc. What to wear – Will you be in a formal or informal setting? Indoors or outdoors? On level ground? Will you have pockets, or be carrying a purse or briefcase? Timing – When you’re running late, you may take shortcuts or cut corners on safety. Be aware! Do you have an intuitive or “gut” feeling telling you it’s time to leave the location or event? Listen to it! Avoid isolating yourself; walk out with friends or stay close to a group you know is safe. The company you keep – Consider your motivations in spending time with a person or group. Also consider their motivations for spending time with you, and how well you know them. This is especially applicable for teens, young adults and single women. Are these people you trust, or just familiar acquaintances?
The second self defense tool is your voice. Your voice may be used for many purposes: asking for help; telling a potential assailant you don’t want his help and to leave you alone; shouting to draw attention to yourself from people nearby who could assist; or calmly reasoning with an assailant to distract them, defuse or de-escalate the situation.
When using your wits to avoid or escape a situation and using your voice to resolve or de-escalate a threat doesn’t work, you must use the third and final tool in your self defense arsenal: your physical skills. Remember, your physical response may be anything from running away, to putting a barrier between yourself and an assailant, to hitting him or keeping him from striking you. Do whatever you have to do to defend yourself, and remember…just because you’re running – or fighting – doesn’t mean you can stop using your brains and your voice!
Continue trying to find a way out of the situation, drawing attention to yourself and getting help from others until you are safe and sound. Then call the police, and be sure to get medical attention if you’ve been in any kind of a physical altercation. Most people are not used to fighting, and the “adrenaline cocktail” your body is experiencing can mask potentially serious injuries.
Be aware and stay safe!