Self Protection Tips
Courtesy of Metro Nashville, Tennessee Police Department
Self-protection (self-defence) is more than learning a few simple yells or carrying a spray to ward off attackers. It is a habit of mind. Self-protection is the way you think, dress, and walk. You have a traffic light in your head that tells you stuff all the time. When something doesn't seem just right about that guy -- listen to that yellow light in your head. A Narcotics officer, for example, learns to listen to their 'gut' feelings (so should you). Self Protection is a study in options: whether to reduce risks, talk, run or fight. People who tell you what you should have done … they weren't there; were they?
Realise what your risks are by using risk reduction tests. You have probably thwarted attacks in the past and just didn't realise it. Many robberies and assaults are unsuccessful. You may be a survivor of a street attack already so you did a lot correctly or you wouldn't be here to read this page. It is not the victim's fault that the door was unlocked or that the victim didn't fight the attacker with the gun, it is the fault of the 'low life' criminal who attacked.
What do you do when you face a beating, a robbery or a rape? We will discuss those below.
· Groin grabs are what people think of when they think of women's self defence. Grabbing or hitting a man in the testicles (up from the base) may work fine but use multiple techniques. You may not think you could hurt a large, muscular attacker … but you can. Everyone has weak points. The eyes are vulnerable to finger jabs or improvised weapons like pens, pencils or the like.
In rear attacks the victim should turn their chin toward the elbow of the attacker and force it down to relieve pressure against the windpipe. The victim should lock the chin down and try to keep the attacker's forearm from pressing hard enough against the SIDE of the neck that unconsciousness could occur. Then the eyes should be attacked over the shoulder, groin grabbed, or top of the instep stomped with the heel.
· Rear groin grabs are often used to make an attacker loosen a physical hold on a victim but the victim should then stomp hard on the top of the attacker's instep with their heel (don't rake the side of your shoe down the front of their foot as this will lessen the damaging impact of the stomp). Then hit back hard with the elbows to the solar plexus or over shoulder to the attacker's face. You want to make it so they can't run after you, can't breathe, or can't see to run after you.
An attacker in the room with you may think you are still asleep so you need to roll to the side of the bed (feigning sleep) and attempt to get the covers off your legs (or where you can throw them off). If surprised in bed you should try to jab to the eyes if you decide to fight. Notice I use the term fight and not resist. People who fight using a combination of yelling, running, and physical techniques get away from attackers much more often than people who offer no resistance. People who fight get injured (black eyes bruises, broken fingers and the like) more than people who don't resist. Fifty five (55%) of the people who offer no resistance get injured anyway. Are you willing to get a black eye or a broken arm to get away from an attacker? Would you be willing to lose an eye or a lung to get away? There are times when it is smarter to not resist. Not resisting may be a proper choice in a self-defence situation, remember, choosing not to fight is smart sometimes also. An attacker threatening your children, an attacker with a gun or knife may put you in a situation where you think it is safer to do what he says - that's okay. When you decide not to fight, get a good description. Deciding what to do your self is the key.
Improvised weapons are often used to supplement unarmed defence. A pen, fork, comb, or book jabbed into an attacker's face will often buy you time to get away. A women in West Nashville once escaped from someone who was giving her a ride back to her broken down car (didn't take her toward her car and wouldn't stop) by taking the gas she had purchased for her car and throwing it on the subject. She threatened to set him on fire if he didn't stop and let her out. It worked fine. Don't carry some silly spray or electronic shocker as a talisman to ward off evil though. People often ask where can they get expert information about the merits and practicality of protective devices like sprays and such. Some products are decent, many not (and as a cop for 20+ years I see a lot of hype, both ways).
You are most likely to be attacked during transitions where you are going from one place to another. "Transitions" occur when you go from your car to work or work to your home, walking to the parking lot, taking out the trash, or jogging down the road. Transitions may increase your risks but are necessary parts of life. Many people who have been attacked try to shut themselves in and avoid crowds or parties. There are risk reduction techniques that enumerate things/actions that decrease or increase risks. Walking with an umbrella, dog or small child decreases your risk of attack. Pairs (or more) are less likely to be attacked than solitary persons. Remember to look around you and walk with an alert, erect posture. People who look like good victims are good victims.
Take your car key out of your pocket or purse and put it under your index finger when you go from your office to your car. You need not fumble for your keys in the dark (taking your attention off your surroundings) and you can put your key immediately into a lock (so you are not fumbling at the door long). You can jab to the eyes or face with the key if attacked since you already have an improvised weapon in your hand.
If threatened by an attacker with a knife you must consider whether or not to fight. Obviously you should try to get away if you can but can you outrun your assailant depends a lot on how close you are, your shoes, your clothing, your physical stamina, terrain, etc. Never let anyone tell you what you should have done because this split second decision is up to you. It is better to have good facts (or good suppositions) on which to base your response. If escape is just a little bit away you may want to throw leaves, dirt or rocks into the attacker's face and kick his knee or groin (scary but might work). You might want to wrap your jacket around your arm and try to use that to temporarily fend him off as you yell for help "Help! Call the Police". Best may be to throw or toss your wallet or purse to the attacker's knife hand as you run away. Generally DO NOT SCREAM if he is holding you because the attacker may try to silence you. This is very true in a rural setting and less true in a highly urban setting due to the proximity of help. If you decide not to fight, get a good description.
When you are about to be hit, tuck your elbows in and take the force of the blow on your arms, not your chest. If you are about to be slapped, roll away from their blow while tucking your head down and lifting your shoulder. This absorbs most of the blow without your head taking abuse (your head will like you for it).
Remember that Self Protection is a habit of mind and you can reduce your risks; not eliminate them. You can be a victim but you can make choices and do things that can save your life. Think risk reduction and make yourself a poor target. Safety precautions for your home, at work or while traveling are very important. Judith Weiss, a self-defence instructor, has put together some excellent material on related self-protection topics.