5 Self-Defense Skills Every Woman Should Know
The threat of a potential attack is likely not on the forefront of your mind as you run errands, jog around the neighborhood or pump gas before your commute to work. While you don’t need to be paranoid or on high alert at all times, it’s worth knowing that estimated one in four women experience some type of violence or harassment in her lifetime.
Considering the prevalence of this issue, all women must be aware of their surroundings and develop techniques to stay safe if the worst-case scenario becomes a reality. The following defensive strategies will empower you to protect yourself and fend off an attacker.
Be Confident in Your Verbal and Non-Verbal Cues
Both your tone of voice and body language send messages to a would-be assailant on the prowl for weak, vulnerable targets. If a suspicious looking figure approaches you or attempts to engage in conversation, don’t react with fear. Choose a posture that communicates strength—but keep it non-confrontational, as you don’t want the other person to sense that you recognize their intent. Respond to their questions calmly and assertively to offset intimidation tactics.
Maintain a Safe Distance from a Perceived Threat
When it comes to physical defense, it’s important to create a reactionary gap of about six feet between you and the aggressor. This creates a protective personal space that gives you enough room to anticipate threatening movements and execute a counterattack if needed.
When possible, situate yourself behind some type of barrier like a trashcan, vehicle or shrub, which forces the other person to change direction. It also lengthens the amount of time you have to react and fight back.
Keep the Maneuvers Basic and Simple to Execute
Don’t underestimate the element of surprise—when the attacker is not expecting you to know self-defense, their guard lowers, offering you the opportunity to assume an aggressive stance and claim the upper-hand.
However, increased adrenaline can impede fine motor skills, so avoid precise, complicated actions. The idea is to throw an assailant off-balance without exerting much effort.
To do this, use your fingers, knees and palms to make contact with sensitive areas like the face or genitals.
Learn How to Properly Use Mace or Pepper Spray
Pepper spray is nearly the perfect self defense product, in both price and effectiveness: “Mace works by incapacitating an aggressive attacker—rendering them temporarily blind and swollen—for up to an hour. Mace spray is a perfect non-lethal defense product to keep on hand because it’s as effective as it is inexpensive,” explain personal security experts.
This pocket-sized tool contains a potent formula of tear gas and pepper solution, causing a burning sensation to temporarily immobilize the aggressor. When using it, angle the canister upright, aim for the eyes, and then activate from 10 to 12 feet away in quick bursts.
Turn an Ordinary Object into an Effective Weapon
Before leaving home, stock your purse with a few sharp, compact items like a comb, pen, nail file, scissors and car keys, all of which can be used as weapons to disarm or even injure the assailant. Keep these objects accessible so you can grab them quickly to make a forceful jab at vulnerable body parts. While the other person is debilitated, take advantage of this window to escape and notify law enforcement of the wounded attacker’s location as soon as possible.
While it’s natural to assume you’ll never face a physical act of violence, the reality is that these incidents occur more often than not in our culture. Arming yourself with the skills and knowledge to fight back could mean the difference between survival and becoming another statistic. Don’t gamble with those unpredictable odds—learn to protect yourself and empower other women to follow suit.
BIO: Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than ten years and is currently a full-time blogger. She is also an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition specialist, and the owner of her own personal training business, Honest Body Fitness. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for health articles, new workouts and more.