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 being aware and alert, and 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, what time to leave, who to spend time with, etc. Thinking through scenarios and situations, rather than “flying by the seat of your pants” 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 that hot 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?
- What time to leave – 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 party? Listen to it! Keep from isolating yourself; walk out with friends or stay close to a group you know is safe.
- Who to spend time with – Consider your motivations in spending time with a person or group. Consider as well their motivations for spending time with you, and how well you know them. This is especially applicable for teens, young adults and single women.
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 others nearby; or calmly reasoning with an assailant to distract him, 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 you and an assailant to hitting him or blocking 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.